“The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire” by Arthur Conan Doyle
Card picked: 10♥*
From: The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (I’d link to this story, but published in 1924, it isn’t yet in the public domain in the United States. Which is utterly ridiculous.)
* Every-so-often, I make a mistake in my Deal Me In list. This week ended up being one of those oftens. When I copy/pasted the table of contents listing for the Shirley Jackson stories I’m reading for hearts, “Dorothy and my Grandmother” was slated for the 9♥ and “And the Sailors” for the 10♥, but actually, that’s all the title of one story! So, I decided to have an extra wild card slot and filled it with a Sherlock Holmes story that was recently mentioned in my copy of Dracula.
“The Sussex Vampire” is generally considered one of the strongest of this collection. Case-book was the last collection of Holmes stories written by Doyle and, in fact, some of his last published fiction. Doyle was well-tired of Holmes at this point and probably low on ideas.
“The Sussex Vampire,” though, is a very quintessential Holmes story. We have a problem, one of seemingly supernatural—or at least very deviant—origin. A woman is accused of sucking the blood of her infant child. I kind of wonder if Doyle had this story rattling around as an idea for a while, but had earlier thought the concept a little too much.
As a reread, I sort of remembered the solution to this case and I could see all the pieces being put into place. There’s the drawing room consultation and the on-site visit and Holmes being very smart while everyone is frazzled. All these things, are very satisfying as a reader. Holmes does seem a little more sensitive to others in “Vampire,” but maybe I’m used to the very anti-social modern versions of Holmes.
This agency stands flat-footed upon the ground, and there it must remain. The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply.
I have to give props to Doyle for maintaining Holmes as a skeptical character while the author was far into his spiritualistic sojourn.