The Pierced Heart

Lynn Shepherd. Delacorte, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-345-54543-5
Bram Stoker’s Dracula provides the template for Shepherd’s overly derivative third historical featuring private detective Charles Maddox (after 2013’s A Treacherous Likeness). In 1851, Maddox travels from England to Austria on behalf of the Bodleian Library’s curators to verify the bona fides of Baron Von Reisenberg, who has offered to make a substantial donation to the library. En route to the baron’s remote country home, a farmer makes the sign of the cross upon seeing Maddox, who then has visions of “black-pelted wolves” closing in on him. The nobleman turns out to resemble Stoker’s vampire count, and Maddox essentially reprises Jonathan Harker’s experiences before returning to London, where someone—or something—is killing women, draining them of their blood and leaving them with bite marks on the neck. First-rate prose makes up in part for an omniscient narrator who too often states the obvious (e.g., fried fish and sausages are the “Victorian equivalent of fast food”). Agent: Ben Mason, Fox Mason. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/11/2014
Release date: 10/21/2014
Genre: Fiction
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