Yet another Titan Books Sherlock Holmes pastiche has been devoured. This time it is Seance For A Vampire by Fred Saberhagen, a prolific author of vampire genre novels. In this story Holmes joins forces with his distant cousin Vlad Drackula to investigate the ghastly goings on at the Altamont estate.
The year is 1903 and a 150 year grudge is being played out against the Altamonts, resulting from an ancestors betrayal and theft. The vampiric Count Kulakov is determined to get back what is his and, as you would expect where vampires are involved, he does it a most convoluted way.
As a book, Seance For A Vampire (originally released in 1994) starts off strongly but really starts to lose its way halfway through and in the end it was as if Saberhagen was trying to pad out the word count with pointless descriptions of rooms and buildings to justify his research, which appears thorough.
The narrative switches between Dracula and Watson and this is really pointless and only serves to confuse the reader who struggles to recall who is telling the story and the shifts are clunky when revealed. It has things like ‘I, Dracula…’ and ‘Now let Watson pick up the story…’ etc – one of the most frustrating elements is how Dracula introduces himself in the first person but then refers to himself in the third person in the narrative – this perspective shift is confusing for the reader.
In addition, the plot is poorly constructed and leaves many holes unfilled, and there are many devices which are used that add nothing to the overall experience. Ruthless editing would have helped here. The whole Russian rescue mission was twice as long as it needed to be and Watson’s descriptive text on the buildings of St. Petersberg was profoundly boring.
All in all, not the best release from Titan’s re-issuing project – that remains The Veiled Detective. 3/10.