Wednesday 16 September 2009

Bram Stoker

I’ve never been a regular reader of vampire books or watcher of vampire films, but when I read Dracula for the first time about twelve years ago, I enjoyed it much more than I expected. The first half of the book in particular is very gripping. And, of course, it appealed to my sense of humour that the Count had a copy of The Law List in his library, and that the hero, Jonathan Harker, is a lawyer himself.

When I came to write the seventh Harry Devlin novel, First Cut is the Deepest, which involves the apparent serial killing of Liverpool lawyers, and the stalking of Harry himself, I used various quotes from Dracula and references to the story to give my tale further texture. It was a book I enjoyed writing, and it was well received at the time, so I am very sorry that it is currently not in print.

When I was in Oxford for the St Hilda’s week-end, I was sorry to see that Waterfield’s, a nice second hand bookshop on the High, is closing down. They were holding a book sale and I picked up several titles, including a shortish book about Stoker by Andrew Maunder.

I found it enjoyable and interesting. Stoker worked from time to time on the fringes of our genre, and he claimed a strong friendship with Arthur Conan Doyle. The Mystery of the Sea involves cryptography, and it’s a tad surprising that it’s so little known. And Stoker is one of those writers who has produced at least one completely unexpected title – Duties of the Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland. Bet that one never troubled the best-seller lists.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I didn't realize that Stoker and Conan Doyle were friends.

I enjoyed "Dracula" when I read it, too (it's been many years ago now.)

Mystery Writing is Murder

R/T said...

FYI, Penguin Classics (presumably aiming to cash in on the recent craze for vampire fiction) has reissued one of Stoker's obscure works, THE JEWEL OF THE SEVEN STARS. Full of exotic adventure (featuring mummies and relics) and a bit of the supernatural (which seems logical if you mummies bouncing around in the narrative), the work lacks vampires. So, if you are not thrilled by the recent vampire fad (a phenomenon that fails to impress me), but if you enjoy Stoker's writing, I think you might like THE JEWEL OF THE SEVEN SEAS, a novel of mysterious attacks, ancient forces, and all that goes along with "strange lands and strange times."

R/T said...

If I wrote THE JEWEL OF THE SEVEN SEAS, I had meant to write THE JEWEL OF SEVEN STARS. Please forgive the typo and mental gaff. My mind wanders and makes bizarre errors these days; perhaps I can blame it all on the 60s.

Martin Edwards said...

Elizabeth, I'm fascinated by the unexpected connections between people, and this one certainly intrigued me.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi R.T. - this is helpful, thanks, as the book is discussed in Maunder's study and it does sound to me to be worth a look, as does much of his other work. I'll look out for the Penguin edition.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I have a friend who re-reads Dracula every year!

Martin Edwards said...

Now that really is enthusiasm, Pamela! Mind you, it's a book definitely worth re-reading.

Anonymous said...

Bram Stoker wrote beautifully - and heroic lawyers, too! Glad to hear that more of his work is coming to light, although I'm sure your considered opinion of his work on the courts of Ireland is correct ...:-)!
Hm, interesting plot your 7th in the series; must read!

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Minnie. First Cut is a book I really enjoyed writing, although I didn't write another Harry Devlin for quite a long time afterwards,because I got involved with the Lakes books.