By Dean P. Turnbloom
1888. 600 year old vampire, Baron Barlucci is in England seeking an eminent scientist in the hopes the doctor can cure his vampirism. Meanwhile, Barlucci is disposing of the victims of his bloodlust in a heinous manner, confounding the police. He is also falling in love with the beautiful daughter of friend Sir Charles of Scotland Yard. Inspector Abberline, investigating the series of murders in Whitechapel, is urged to contact outside counsel, namely in the form of private detective Sherlock Holmes. Holmes and Watson, upon returning from a case involving artist Van Gogh latch onto a case of an Italian immigrant falsely accused of murdering a young girl while aboard ship. Soon after, they receive the details of the Whitechapel murders. As more bodies appear and the papers start referring to the killer as the Ripper, Holmes, Watson, and Abberline move ever closer to discovering the killer. Barlucci, however, struggles against his ever growing need for blood while succumbing to love. It’s a race against time for both parties.
For a book with Sherlock Holmes in the title, the eminent detective is seen only once in the first 100 pages, and only to let the reader know he wasn’t going to be around until later. I know it’s common to build up the crime(s) and the clues before introducing the detective, but this is Holmes. Also, I was a bit disappointed because the villain is known right from the beginning. I didn’t get a chance to look at the clues and guess along with Holmes. Writing another version of the Jack the Ripper incidents is nothing new.
Sherlock Holmes: British detective with a fondness for pipes, cocaine, and logical deduction
John Watson: Doctor and assistant to Holmes, chronicler of Holmes’ cases, often suffers twinges from war wound from his time in Afghanistan
Antonio Barlucci: Italian Baron, vampire, turned in the 13th Century, has amassed a fortune throughout the centuries, villa in Milan and a residence in England, carries a sword cane, six feet tall, wavy black hair, would like to be cured of his vampirism, likes opera, tutored in Latin, Greek, and French, former Templar
Garrett: loner, nose broken multiple times, frequenter of dockside bars, wife and daughter died during childbirth, prominent facial scar, longshoreman
Carlino Gaetano: Italian, father a fisherman, running away to England to start a life of his own
Barlucci is an interesting character. He enlists the aid of a scientist to cure him yet he isn’t averse to using people to continue to survive. Of course, there are the obligatory deductions and explanations from Holmes as well as his proficiency at disuguise. Some nice background for some of the characters, including Barlucci and the Scotland Yard investigator.
Turnbloom does a fair job of presenting the flavor of 19th Century speaking and language. Dialogue fits the characters and there isn’t any confusion to voices.
Chapters are headed by specific dates. Fairly quick scenes, doesn’t drag. Unlike many stories with Holmes, this isn’t presented as a mystery chronicled by Watson. Good use of descriptions and detail, especially regarding Scotland Yard. However, I didn’t get a ‘feel’ for London or even Paris at the beginning. A couple of repetitious phrases that may be overused. Watson calling Holmes, “Old boy.” The romantic exchanges between Barlucci and his amore and each calling the other ‘my love’ was a little much. I didn’t think this pastiche lived up to the quality of others.