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Reviewed: Sherlock Holmes and the Plague of Dracula
It is often said that a good idea is worth repeating. However, I am fairly certain that the same notion does not apply to not so good ideas that have already been bludgeoned to death, such as pitting the Great Detective against either Jack the Ripper or, as we see here, that other great bogey- man of the Victorian age, Count Dracula. Still, one shouldn’t be overly surprised at another go-round of Holmes vs. Dracula since it is surely one of those all too tempting propositions for writers of pastiche, who are likely fueled by the happy and probably deluded notion that this time out they will be the one to get it right. While Stephen Seitz certainly brings a few new ideas to the table in SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE PLAGUE OF DRACULA, they aren’t necessarily good ones, nor are they particularly well told, but there are some moments of genuine, if extremely cheesy, fun to be had in this book.

Retaining the format of Bram Stoker’s novel, Seitz presents the book as a series of letters and personal journal entries, the bulk of which are Watson’s. This has the effect of giving us an unedited view of Watson’s inner workings, personal life and private thoughts that apparently include his fears about the disintegration of his marriage based on a suspicion that Mary Watson nee Morstan, is engaged in some sort of affair. Sadly this immediately breaks any illusion that this might feel like a Watsonian narrative and sets an uncomfortably tawdry tone to the proceedings.

In the first part,
Castle Dracula, Mina Murray draws Holmes and Watson into a search for her missing fiancé Jonathan Harker. Our duo head off to Transylvania, exchange some embarrassingly bad dialogue with cardboard cutout villagers and gypsies, make their way to Castle Dracula where Holmes has a near fatal, Hammer Films sort of encounter with the Count’s “Brides”, find little trace of Harker but do find documents that indicate Moriarty is working with Dracula to destabilize a bank, before escaping and making their way back to England.  Against all the evidence, being attacked, heavily bled, his remarkable recovery, etc…Holmes is not convinced of the existence of vampires!

The Plague of Dracula, begins with Watson’s attempts to find his missing wife who has fled to Mrs. Cecil Forrester’s home in Winchester, where it becomes apparent that she has fallen under the sway of Dracula. Holmes arrives, seemingly in the nick of time, but Dracula uses the life of Mary Watson as leverage, forcing Holmes to drop his investigation. On their way to investigate the Silver Blaze case, Holmes and Watson stop to visit the newly married Harkers, meet Van Helsing, and generally become embroiled with the Bloofer Lady aspects of Stoker’s novel, until Lord Godalming takes exception to Holmes’ interference and has him warned off by brother Mycroft. Still not admitting to the existence of vampires, Holmes instead believes all he has seen to be the result of clever stage trickery.

Finally, in
The Great Hiatus, we return to the Canonical events leading up to the Moriarty confrontation at Reichenbach, but with a few rather surprising and largely ridiculous twists, such as Holmes perhaps actually dying, and not just once either! How does it all work out? Not in a satisfying or particularly logical manner, but if you want details, I’m afraid you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Bottom line:  At best, an Ed Wood-like guilty pleasure that keeps you turning pages, despite the obvious and many failings, but still eventually leaves you with the vague feeling that you’ve been suckered again! At worst, well, that feeling that you have, in fact, actually been suckered again! For a far better Holmes/Dracula story, go hunt up a copy of Loren D. Estleman’s 1978 book, the creatively titled SHERLOCK HOLMES VS. DRACULA.
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Sherlock Holmes and the Plague of Dracula
Author: Stephen Seitz
First Published: 2006 - Mountainside Press
ISBN: 0-9708-6935-5 (Trade Paperback)
Price: $16.95 USD (trade paperback)
Reviewed by: Charles Prepolec

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