Literary sleuth Charles Maddox takes on Dracula.
Charles has been hired by Oxford's Bodleian Library to vet the Baron Von Reisenberg, who’s offered the curators a princely sum for the upkeep of one of the library’s finest collections. The job seems like a sinecure, but at Castle Reisenberg, the baron’s remote Austrian home, Charles discovers that his host, a noted inventor, is involved in some very dodgy research. His curiosity soon gets him into trouble with the baron, who sets a dog on him and has him carried off to an insane asylum. Only an earlier chance meeting with a local doctor clears the way for his return to England, where his friend Sgt. Wheeler asks for his help with the case of a series of murdered prostitutes whose heads and hearts have been removed. The small holes Charles notices in their necks remind him all too vividly of his trip to Austria, where fear of vampires is widespread among the peasants. Meanwhile, in Whitby, the showman Professor de Caus has returned from abroad with his daughter Lucy, who he fears has gone mad after helping him with a smoke-and-mirrors show that claims to raise the dead. Lucy’s unexplainable powers have attracted the attention of the baron, who secretly removes her to London, which is crowded with foreigners visiting the Great Exhibition of 1851, a year when science is battling superstition. The police try to keep the murders secret, but when a reporter breaks the story, near riots ensue. Though Maddox is convinced that the baron is the culprit, proving it and finding Lucy prove to be the most difficult tasks of his career.
Another tour de force with a striking finale from Shepherd (A Fatal Likeness, 2013, etc.), who specializes in turning iconic novels into clever, complicated mysteries for her tormented hero to solve.