Archive for the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ Tag

Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London: A Review   Leave a comment

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By C. Michael Forsyth

Years ago, in college, I was midway through the book Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula by Loren D. Estleman, when I enthusiastically told my roommate I was reading a novel about the pair butting heads.

“So am I,” he marveled, holding up his dog-eared paperback copy of The Holmes-Dracula Files by Fred Saberhagen. Two books on the same theme, by authors who took the premise in entirely different directions. It turns out the great detective has had multiple literary run-ins with the Lord of Darkness over the years. A clash of the contemporaries was inevitable. They are the two most enduring characters in fiction – one the epitome of Victorian rationality, the other the embodiment of its dark, sensual counterpart.

Purists object to any Holmes tale involving the supernatural, but the possibility of the hero venturing off his usual turf appeals to me. And the more, the merrier. I’d love to see a three-way mashup, where Sherlock and Tarzan team up to battle Dracula in Africa!

Dracula does not make an appearance in the entertaining graphic novel Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London, but the sleuth does face some equally implacable foes, principally the aristocratic vampire Lord Selymes.

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UPPERCRUST VAMPIRE Lord Selymes is the perfect host.

 

The story is set in 1891, during Sherlock’s hiatus after his supposed death fighting Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls. A rogue vampire has been viciously murdering prominent Englishman, for reasons unknown. Selymes, with the help of his legion of bloodsucking minions, coerces a reluctant Holmes into tracking the fiend down. The “stakes” are high. If the killing spree doesn’t stop, Queen Victoria – who tolerates vampires in her realm – will have no choice but to order their extermination.

The writer Sylvain Cordurie is faithful to Conan Doyle, when it comes to Holmes’ personality and methods. The detective relies on his powerful intellect to defeat his undead foes. In one clever move, he imbibes holy water to dispatch a vampire who makes the mistake of biting him. The detective’s expertise in chemistry also plays a critical role in the story.

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BOTTOMS UP: Holmes uses his brain to get the better of a bloodsucker.

 

Watson, as yet unaware that Holmes is alive, is not aboard for this adventure. The story is told as a memoir Holmes writes to his friend. The doctor’s absence is sorely felt; now I understand why Conan Doyle gave his cerebral hero a companion to begin with. Holmes, true to form, is emotionally detached throughout, whereas Watson’s reactions – terror, revulsion, disbelief – would have added another dimension to the tale. As it is, the book has a somewhat dispassionate tone. In fact, the writer doesn’t even include a moment in which the logical Holmes is shocked to learn of the existence of vampires. He’s pretty “sanguine” about the blood-drinkers, pardon the pun.

Irene Adler, the woman Sherlock became smitten with in A Scandal in Bohemia, does appear in vampire form – or rather her lookalike appears. You see, the real Irene apparently died two years earlier. Oh, I know what you’re thinking. SPOILER ALERT: The vampire is not Irene. The writer missed a golden opportunity here to offer Holmes an irresistible temptation.

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Sherlock’s only love interest IRENE ADLER is back — or is she?

 

The artist Laci does a crackerjack job depicting fog-enshrouded 19th century London, with attention to details of architecture and costume. Colorist Alex Gonzalbo’s use of a limited palette contributes to the grim atmosphere. I wasn’t crazy about how Holmes was drawn, however. His facial expression rarely changes, and while we know he is coldly logical, we want human reactions at critical points. I was also disappointed that Irene’s double is not more alluring. Irene had sex appeal to spare – shouldn’t a vampire version be more vampy?

I also have a beef with the dimensions. The book was originally published in France at 12.5 x 9 inches, but the  U.S. version put out by Dark Horse is reduced to a stingy 10 ½ x 7 inches. The panels look cramped, and some of the drama and beauty of the art is lost. I would have enjoyed the reading experience more in a larger format.

If you like stories that blend Conan Doyle and the paranormal, you might enjoy Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini in The Adventure of the Spook House, by C. Michael Forsyth.

HOUDINI Front Y

Houdini and Conan Doyle investigate a bizarre disappearance in new book.

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CHRISTOPHER LEE’S CIRCLE OF TERROR   Leave a comment

Horror Icon Christopher Lee turned 93 on May 27. And to celebrate the birthday of the screen legend, I offer you Christopher Lee’s Circle of Terror: a new pop culture game that could finally put a stake in the heart of Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Starting with Lee, you name an actor that played a role he also played. Then name an actor who shared a role with that actor. And so on, and so on, until the chain leads us right back to Christopher Lee. Let the games begin…

CHRISTOPHER LEE is best known for playing DRACULA, a role also played by...

CHRISTOPHER LEE is best known for playing DRACULA, a role also played by…

FRANK LANGELLA, who also played...

FRANK LANGELLA, who also played…

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON in

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON in “Frost/Nixon.” Tricky Dick was also played by

ANTHONY HOPKINS, who also played the role of vampire hunter...

ANTHONY HOPKINS, who also played the role of vampire hunter…

Dr.  VAN HELSING, a role also played by the famous

Dr. VAN HELSING, a role also played by the famous

LAURENCE OLIVIER, who also donned blackface to play Shakespeare's

LAURENCE OLIVIER, who also donned blackface to play Shakespeare’s

OTHELLO. The Tragic Moor was also played on film by...

OTHELLO. The Tragic Moor was also played on film by…

ORSON WELLES, best known to radio fans as the voice of...

ORSON WELLES, best known to radio fans as the voice of…

THE SHADOW.  The cackling crime-fighter was played on film by...

THE SHADOW. The cackling crime-fighter was played on film by…

ALEC BALDWIN. Though that reboot tanked, he launched a successful franchise as...

ALEC BALDWIN. Though that reboot tanked, he launched a successful franchise as…

JACK RYAN in

JACK RYAN in “The Hunt for Red October.” The two-fisted intelligence analyst was most recently played by…

CHRISTOPHER PINE, who also stars in the rebooted Star Trek movies as ...

CHRISTOPHER PINE, who also stars in the rebooted Star Trek movies as …

CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK, a role of course originated by...

CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK, a role of course originated by…

WILLIAM SHATNER, who starred in a short-lived TV series as...

WILLIAM SHATNER, who starred in a short-lived TV series as…

ALEXANDER THE GREAT. And as odd casting as that sounds, equally odd for the role was Irish actor...

ALEXANDER THE GREAT. And as odd casting as that sounds, equally odd for the role was Irish actor…

COLIN FARRELL, who also starred in the remake of “Fright Night” as

JERRY DANDRIDGE. The sexy vampire next door was played in the original by...

JERRY DANDRIDGE. The sexy vampire next door was played in the original by…

CHRIS SARANDON, who went from evil to good as...

CHRIS SARANDON, who went from evil to good as…

JESUS in

JESUS in “The Day Christ Died.” The Messiah was also played by…

MAX VON SYDOW in

MAX VON SYDOW in “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” Max was less nice as James Bond’s archenemy…

ERNST BLOFELD in “Never Say Never Again.” The super-villain has been portrayed by many other actors including…

CHARLES GRAY, who also played the older, smarter brother of Sherlock Holmes...

CHARLES GRAY, who also played the older, smarter brother of Sherlock Holmes…

MYCROFT HOLMES in “The Seven-Percent Solution.” The part of Sherlock’s big brother was also played by none other than…

CHRISTOPHER LEE in

CHRISTOPHER LEE in “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.”

So there we have it: A perfect circle including 12 actors. Now it’s your turn. Pick any actor above as a starting point, create a Circle of Terror of your own and post it as a comment below.

Speaking of Lee’s portrayal of Mycroft Holmes, the actor has the rare distinction of having also portrayed Holmes himself, in “Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace” as well as Holmes’ most famous client Sir Henry in “Hound of the Baskervilles.” Sherlock Holmes fans around the world have been delighted to see the detective’s creator in a new thriller, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini in The Adventure of The Spook House.

The creator of Sherlock Holmes and the world's greatest magician probe a paranormal  mystery in new thriller.

The creator of Sherlock Holmes and the world’s greatest magician probe a paranormal mystery in new thriller.

Check out the book HERE.

Arthur Conan Doyle & Houdini Solve Paranormal Mystery in Novel   3 comments

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My latest novel has just been published! In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini in The Adventure of the Spook House, the two extraordinary men team up to solve a paranormal mystery.

A brief synopsis:

The year is 1922. A respected judge inexplicably vanishes in a decrepit mansion and two of the world’s most remarkable men are summoned to investigate: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, and Harry Houdini, the world’s greatest escape artist.

Aided by a beautiful young psychic, the unlikely partners probe a mystery that becomes murkier and more perilous at every turn and brings them face to face with evil incarnate. To solve the riddle of The Spook House—and to survive its dangers—they must call upon all of their extraordinary mental and physical powers. The story draws upon the real-life friendship of Conan Doyle and Houdini, two vastly different men brought together by their fascination with the paranormal.

The book’s getting a great response. And folks from the many Sherlock Holmes societies and other fans of Conan Doyle are chafing at the bit to read it. Here’s what the first reviewer said:

“The Adventure of the Spook House is an exciting mystery full of twists, hair-breadth escapes and feats of derring-do. The author brings Conan Doyle and Houdini back to life as fully fleshed out characters who make splendid heroes. Thanks to Forsyth’s exhaustive research, the reader truly feels immersed in the 1920s. The novel captures the obsession with the supernatural that Conan Doyle shared with his friends like H.P. Lovecraft and my own great grand uncle Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula.”
—Dacre C. Stoker, co author Dracula the Un-Dead, Bram Stoker’s Lost Journal

I came up with the idea after stumbling across the intriguing fact that the two legendary figures were friends—and later bitter enemies—in real life. Writing the book took over a year of research, as I tried to capture the personalities of each historical figure as well as, of course, get the details about them and the time period right. I pored over their autobiographies, books on how Houdini managed his escapes and a huge volume of the more than 1,500 letters written by Conan Doyle’s letters. It really helped me to get a handle on how the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories thought and spoke.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, left, and Harry Houdini, were friends--and later enemies.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, left, and Harry Houdini, were friends–and later enemies.

I learned that each man was, in his own right, brilliant and remarkably athletic—perfectly suited for an adventure of this type. I would be hard pressed to think of a real-life writer and an entertainer who would make better heroes.

The official release date of the book is March 24, 2014 but advance copies of the paperback and Kindle editions are already available at Amazon.com. You can find all other eBook formats, including Nook, at Smashwords.com

ELEMENTARY MY DEAR COUNT DRACULA — The Horror Stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.   1 comment

Long before Boris Karloff appeared in "The Mummy," Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote of a tragic, immortal Egyptian obsessed with an ancient love.

By C. Michael Forsyth

Every reader knows of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as the creator of Sherlock Holmes. Fewer are aware that he also invented Professor Challenger, whose visit to a plateau frozen in prehistory in The Lost World was a forerunner to Jurassic Park.

But hardly anyone knows that Doyle also wrote many horror stories and was a brilliant master of the genre. A collection of these can be found in The Horror of the Heights & Other Strange Tales. And what a delightful treat these tales are!

I suppose one shouldn’t be surprised that the father of literature’s most enduring character would bring considerable creativity to bear. But it’s remarkable how Doyle invented many of the staples of supernatural fiction.

His story “The Great Keinplatz Experiment,” anticipates the many body-swapping movies Hollywood has churned out, like “Freaky Friday,” “18 Again,” “Prelude to a Kiss,” and Rob Schneider’s hilarious “The Hot Chick.”

AHEAD OF HIS TIME: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle could frighten readers as well as baffle them with mysteries,

His “Lot. 249” introduces the shambling, homicidal mummy that would decades later send chills up the spines of movie goers in The Mummy. Another story, “The Ring of Thoth,” precedes “The Mummy” ’s theme of an immortal Egyptian driven by love spanning the centuries.

The story “The Horror of the Heights,” is about an airplane menaced by a monster that dwells in the clouds. It would be echoed in the classic 1963 “Twilight Zone” episode in which William Shatner, recovering from a nervous breakdown, is the only passenger aboard a plane to see a mysterious creature tampering with the engine.

As a writer, I’m often frustrated at how often I’ll come up with what I believe to be an original idea for a supernatural story, only to discover that “The Twilight Zone” got there first. Well, again and again, Conan Doyle beats Rod Serling to the punch.

"STEWARDESS!" William Shatner discovers a new reason to take the bus in the classic Twilight Zone episode "Terror at 20,000 feet."

The most truly fascinating thing about these stories is that each includes a clearly outlined mechanism for the supernatural occurrence, lending the tales unusual realism.

Remember, Conan Doyle was an ardent believer in the occult. He vouched for mediums and ascribed to their pseudoscientific cosmology (ectoplasm, astral planes and the like). He believed in telepathy, psychometry, clairvoyance — and even fairies, championing those dubious “fairy photographs” as legitimate.

In most modern horror novels and movies, the supernatural element requires total suspension of disbelief. We are simply supposed to accept that there are vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies or whatever, with the why and how left unanswered.

In occult-expert Conan Doyle’s stories there is always a logical explanation for the supernatural events, no matter how fantastic. For example, in the body-switching story, the spooky fun starts when a professor and his assistant, sitting side by side, simultaneously attempt out-of-body projection.

And in “Horror of the Heights,” the denizens of the upper atmosphere are  life forms that one might reasonably believe could inhabit the sky — unlike the lumbering, Abominable Snowman-like “gremlin” of “The Twilight Zone” episode.

IT'S A WRAP! The 1932 movie "The Mummy" has a precursor in one of Conan Doyle's stories.

Beyond that, the twisty, sometimes grimly humorous stories deliver the requisite scares. There were none that I didn’t like. My favorite was “The Parasite,” in which a hypnotist’s parlor exhibition at a cocktail party leads to harrowing consequences for the subject. This tale features a storyline you definitely WON’T recognize from Hollywood movies. And it builds up to a nail-biting climax even Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t foresee.

Horror reaches new heights in collection of scary tales by the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth

If you only read ONE werewolf novel this week, make it Hour of the Beast by C. Michael Forsyth.

To check out HOUR OF THE BEAST, click HERE.

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