Review: The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula / Author: Loren D. Estleman / Publisher: Titan / Release Date: Out Now
The world's greatest detective pitted against the Prince of Darkness! Sounds like one helluva rumble, yes? So why does this book, dating from 1978 and now reissued by Titan, end up feeling like such a lightweight affair? Well, it's kind of elementary ...
You see, rather than serving up an entirely new Holmes-Dracula tale, Estleman has simply plonked his story down on top of Bram Stoker's. Thus we have Holmes brought in to investigate the case of a schooner mysteriously running aground, sans crew. Then fast-forward to a foggy sojourn on Hampstead Heath, during which he and Watson encounter a vampiric Lucy Westenra. And so on, until, in a change from Stoker's novel, Dracula kidnaps Mrs. Watson (which doesn't deter them one bit, leading you to think that he might have been better off grabbing Mrs. Hudson instead.)
This dovetailing of Holmes' investigation into the original narrative is nimbly done, but feels a bit pointless. It would be different if Estleman offered some subversive new take on these iconic characters, but he's content to pen a straight Victorian/Edwardian pastiche, with Dracula hissing and swirling his cape and Holmes being impossibly patronizing to poor Watson, turfing him unceremoniously into the waters of Whitby harbour at one point and offering him marital advice at another. Still, the tale rattles along like a hackney cab, and, while it might not do much for Dracula fans, it should certainly entertain Holmes addicts.