Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dracula Returns

Remember Ironside, television's wheelchair-bound detective played by Raymond Burr? When DRACULA RETURNS (1973), by Robert Lory, was published, one reviewer not unfairly compared the protagonist, Professor Damien Harmon, to Ironside. A former New York police officer, Harmon was severely injured on duty and discharged from the force. Now he and his assistant, Cameron Sanchez, specialize in matters of the occult. They get possession of the coffin of Count Dracula (whom we saw being staked in the prologue) and revive the master vampire. Dracula also has a sidekick, ancient but sexy cat-shapeshifter Ktara, whose life is tied to the Count's. She approaches Professor Harmon with the offer of a supernatural force (Dracula) to help him fight evil, in exchange for his agreement to revive the vampire and thus prolong her own existence. Harmon maintains control over Dracula with a clever device implanted in the vampire's heart, a sliver of wood attached to a mechanism the professor operates by telekinesis. He nourishes the Count on synthetic blood and keeps him unconscious except when needed to carry out various missions of vigilante justice.

DRACULA RETURNS and the rest of Lory's multi-book series are primarily more occult thrillers than vampire stories. In the sequels, except for the second book, DRACULA'S GOLD, vampirism plays a minor role in the plot. They're adventure tales in which the instrument of Harmon's crusade against evil happens to be a vampire. The strangely-matched team confronts voodoo, demons, and other eldritch minions of darkness. The tension between the professor and his "tame" Dracula, complicated by the role of Ktara in the coercive relationship, adds interesting wrinkles to the quests in which the Count grudgingly cooperates. I remember these novels as fun reads, if not great literature, with an approach a little different from the many other spinoffs of Stoker's classic.

Margaret L. Carter
Carter's Crypt


Clay and Susan Griffith said...

I remember these books fondly. Actually still have copies of the first 2 or 3 in the series. I had different covers than the one you showed on the blog. I remember wanting more Dracula in the book. The story focused on other characters.

Anonymous said...

I remember Ironsides, but I can't believe I never heard of these books. I also wonder if the original copies might be worth some money.

SandyG265 said...

I read this series when it came out. They weren't bad stories but I wouldn't really call them vampire stories.

Margaret Carter said...

I felt the same way -- I wanted more Dracula.

I have all the books in the original paperbacks, so if they are worth more than face value, my heirs will be happy. :)