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Dr Jekyll and Mr Holmes

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Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1980
(price: 1.25; 256 pages)
first published 1979

dedication: To Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson - one thrill in return for many.

The blurb on the back:

'It is a business most dark and sinister, and before it is finished, I fear that more than one life may be ruined...'
Sherlock Holmes was right, as the savage murder of Sir Danvers Carew later proved. With Dr John H Watson, Holmes had already encountered the evil young hedonist Edward Hyde and knew he was strangely connected with Henry Jekyll, the wealthy, respectable London doctor. It was not until the Queen herself requested it, however, that Holmes was officially on the case, the blackest mystery of his career! Although Robert Louis Stevenson published his tale of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as fiction, the hideous facts were true insofar as Stevenson knew them. Here, finally is the entire firsthand account of that devilish crime as recorded by Dr Watson, with an explanation of why Holmes's personal involvement had to be kept secret - until now...

'A highly successful combination of the Holmesian and the horrifying' - Cincinnati Post

The last two decades of Queen Victoria's reign were spectacular ones for popular literature: Conan Doyle was laying the groundwork for detective fiction, of course, and HG Wells was doing the same for science fiction, while Robert Louis Stevenson was raising the adventure story to undreamt-of levels of artistic achievement. And the horror tradition, which had been in recession since Sheridan LeFanu's heyday, made an unexpected return, possibly in response to the Whitechapel murders of Jack the Ripper, the traces of which can be felt in the key texts of the era: Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, Dorian Gray and Dracula.

Estleman, having already made a success of reworking Dracula in Sherlock's image, turned his attention to Jekyll & Hyde, and again emerged triumphant in both artistic and commercial terms. An excellent piece, it does just what it says on the cover.

Just a couple of minor points: out of interest, my copy includes an extra set of pages, comprising a repeat of the final three chapters. If anyone's got these missing, do let me know. And secondly: that's a bloody awful cover.

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sherlock holmes