Author: Loren Estleman

Publisher: Titan Books; Reprint edition

ISBN-10: 1781161429

ISBN-13: 978-1781161425

Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula is one of 16 previously published titles assembled by Titan Books under the umbrella of "The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes." Authors for the series of pastiches include Fred Saberhagen, Sam Siciliano, Daniel Stashower, Richard L. Boyer, Barrie Roberts, and the master of mash-ups, Philip José Farmer.

In the case of Holmes vs. Dracula, or to use Dr. Watson's title, "The Adventure Of The Sanguinary Count," the writer was Loren Estleman who was also responsible for Dr. Jekell and Mr. Holmes. His combining the denizens of Baker Street with the vampire from Transylvania was first published in 1978, reprinted in 2000, and reprinted yet again by Titan in 2012.

And why not? As the story is set in 1890 and draws much from Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, Dracula, there's nothing here that would require any updating. Readers who like Victorian-set detective stories, no matter who the writer might be, can enjoy such yarns now just as much as those who might have encountered them years ago.

Admittedly, it helps to be familiar with Stoker's story as so many events and characters are drawn directly from that novel. True, Estleman summarizes and paraphrases many of the incidents Stoker created, but if this is the first time you've heard of the "Bloofer Lady," Dracula's hiding coffins around England, and the efforts of the Van Helsing company, you won't get lost in the plot. Estleman spends little time with Stoker's supporting characters, with only one scene for Mina Harker and one meeting between the Alpha males of Holmes and Dr. Van Helsing.

What Estleman does is spin a "previously untold" sub-plot to the Stoker story in which Holmes and Watson duel with Dracula in scenes that would have fit in between chapters in the original novel. In particular, Holmes and Watson must rescue Mrs. Watson from the Count when he kidnaps her to get Holmes to drop his chase. In the end, Holmes and his "Boswell" rescue the lady and thwart Dracula's attempt to sail to America. After that, Holmes steps aside to let Van Helsing and his troop pursue the Count just as recounted in Stoker's account.

As with any writer attempting to capture the spirit and flavor of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a reader's pleasure will largely be determined by the new writer's ability to capture the cadence and style of "Watson," find clever ways to have Holmes show off his observational skills, and take us to the England of hansom cabs and the Baker Street Irregulars. Estleman is successful in all these aspects, as well as squeezing in faces and references from stories from the original canon. What more can you ask?

It's all in good fun with no serious attempt at doing anything serious. If you like Sherlock Holmes stories and don't mind the "mash-ups" of so many later writers, this is diverting entertainment.

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