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by Fred Saberhagen
Published by JSS Literary Productions
Copyright (c) 1978 Fred Saberhagen

Crime Makes Strange Partnerships -- And none stranger than that between Sherlock Holmes and Count Dracula.

Holmes confronts a pair of impossible problems: a ring of criminal masterminds threatening to loose thousands of plague infested rats into the streets of London and a bizarre killer who leaves a trail of bloodless corpses . . . and no other clues. . .

Dracula holds the key to both mysteries. Returned to London on a personal matter, the Count is quickly entangled in a web of evil that even his undead powers may not be enough to breach.

Here are the secrets of THE HOLMES-DRACULA FILE.

A brief excerpt taken from Chapter One:

There can be little doubt that if the cudgel descending on that old man's skull had been of lead or iron, rather than some stout timber of the English forest, not much would have come of the attempt--at least nothing worthy of your attention and mine at this late date. The street beside the East India docks was very nearly empty in the dawn, and to any assault with mere metal he would have responded vigorously, and then would have gone on his way to meet his love in Exeter, lighthearted with the sense of having done the metropolis of London a good turn en passant, ridding it of one or two of its more rascally inhabitants.

It is however an important fact of history--I do not exaggerate--that the force of that stealthy blow, delivered from behind by an assailant of breathtaking cunning, was borne in wood. The old man fell down senseless on the spot; he felt neither the slime of the street's stones nor the rough hands that lifted him and bore him off, their owners doubtless grumbling at his unexpected weight.

There was a great pain in the old man's head when he awoke, and he awoke to nothing better than a crippled awareness, bereft of useful memories. He was in a poor little bedchamber, quite strange to him. And when the old man tried to move, he found that his arms and legs were fettered with iron, held tight to the peculiar high, narrow bed or cot on which he lay. On making this discovery he began, as you may well imagine, very earnestly to consider his situation. But no, he could neither remember nor guess how he might have come to such a pass.

He had no more than shards of memory, all recent but quite incomplete: a sailing ship, a gangplank, the happy feel of solid land beneath his feet once more, the fog-wreathered dawn. . .the great pain in his head.

Now here he was locked to his bed, in a small room he did not know. The lone window was heavily blocked with blinds and curtains, but still admitted more light than he required to take stock of his surroundings. Above it on the stained ceiling a smear of reflected daylight quivered, signaling that water lay outside in the sun. On the far side of the room stood a high old chest of drawers in need of paint, holding on its top an unlit candle in a brass stick, a chipped wash-basin, and a pitcher. A stark chair of dark wood waited inhospitably beside the chest, and that completed the room's furnishings save for the bed itself, which seemed to be fashioned almost entirely of heavy metal.

It might be morning still, or afternoon. The Cockney cires of a coster, hawking vebetables, came from somewhere outside and below. The room, though small, was furnished with two doors, set in adjacent walls. One door was fettered by two closed padlocks, which were large and strong, and mounted upon separate heavy hasps. Little splinters of bright, raw wood about these showed that their installation had been recent. The other door was also closed, but had no lock at all, at least not on the old man's side.