Skip to main content

Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty

Stoker's Manuscript is Royce Prouty's debut novel.  It was very good, and it has everything: a coded message in a literary classic, mystery, intrigue, history, an unusual old world setting, a 'treasure' hunt, a family history/tragedy shrouded in mystery PLUS VAMPIRES thrown in as a bonus.  Incidentally this was the last book I read... I think I finished it around the end of July, and I'm currently (still) between books because I haven't yet started a new one.  What's depressing is that I have a pile of good ones at home that look really promising, and I don't know which to read first is part of my problem.

Joseph Barkeley, a modestly successful purveyor of rare, collectible, and antique books in Chicago, is contacted out of the blue one day by an agent acting on behalf of an anonymous buyer who wishes to acquire a rare manuscript that's recently come up for sale in Philadelphia.  This is the eponymous manuscript of the book's title and, readers, if you are ever contacted by an agent acting on behalf of an anonymous buyer, you should hang up that phone and run for the hills because nothing good will come of that transaction.

Bram Stoker's original manuscript including the prologue and epilogue that were excluded from the second printing is the object of desire of the mysterious buyer who insists on complete anonymity and secrecy.  When Joseph traces the origins of the call back to Romania, the land of his birth, a land in which he and his brother spent some bleak years in an orphanage before being taken to live in a convent in Chicago, some warning bells go off. But apparently not loud enough for Joseph to hear even after his brother warns him that nothing good waits for him in Romania and that it is the one place to which he should not return.  But the commission offered on the manuscript is too lucrative to pass up, so Joseph agrees to the buyer's terms of contract.

When Joseph accompanies the manuscript's delivery to the buyer in Romania, he realizes too late the missteps he's taken when the buyer essentially holds him prisoner in the ancient castle he calls home.  In order to earn his freedom, Joseph must engage in a delicate balancing act in which he assists in decoding the instructions hidden in the excised prologue and epilogue.  The buyer believes these instructions will lead him to the burial sites of various members of his family--the family of the ancient, sinister Draculs.  Joseph quickly realizes he is engaged in a battle against an ancient foe and that the battle will have brutal costs to him and those he holds dear.

The moral of this story: when a client wants you to help him figure out where his dead relatives are buried so he can dig them up, TURN THE JOB DOWN.  It isn't worth the aggravation and danger to your life or your loved ones.  I highly recommend this book for fans of a good literary mystery and those who like vampire fiction.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


Carmen said…
Wow, Ms. Angie, this book sounds fascinating.
BTW, why don't you start to read from your pile with the shortest book, or thinner one, that's usually what I do when in that dilemma.

Popular posts from this blog

Broken by Karin Slaughter

Before I begin the formal review there are a few things I need to get off my chest in the wake of finishing this book; I'll do so without giving away too many (or any) spoilers.
The OUTRAGE!: the identity of Detective Lena Adams' new beau; the low depths to which Grant County's interim chief has sunk and brought the police force down with him; agent Will Trent's wife, Angie's, sixth sense/nasty habit of reappearing in his life just when he's slipping away from her. Thank God for small miracles though because while Angie was certainly referred to during the book, the broad didn't make an appearance. One sign that I've become way too invested in these characters is that I'd like to employ John Connolly's odd pair of assassins, Louis and Angel, to contract out a hit on Angie; do you think Karin Slaughter and John Connolly could work out a special cross over?
Hallelujah: Dr. Sara Linton and agent Will Trent are both back. There is no hallelujah for…

In The Woods by Tana French

"What I warn you to remember is that I am a detective. Our relationship with the truth is fundamental, but cracked, refracting confusingly like fragmented glass. It is the core of our careers, the endgame of every move we make, and we pursue it with strategies painstakingly constructed of lies ... and every variation on deception. The truth is the most desirable woman in the world and we are the most jealous lovers, reflexively denying anyone else the slightest glimpse of her. We betray her routinely ... This is my job ... What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this--two things: I crave truth. And I lie." opening lines of In The Woods chapter 1, pages 3-4
In The Woods by Tana French, an Irish writer, is an extremely well-written and well-crafted mystery novel. The downside is that this is French's debut novel, and her website (located at does not offer any insi…

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

When the end came, it seemed to do so completely out of the blue, and it wasn't until long afterward that I was able to see that there was a chain of events leading up to it. Some of those events had nothing to do with us, the Morrisons, but were solely the concern of the Pyes, who lived on a farm about a mile away and were our nearest neighbors." from page seven
I must confess that it took me longer than it really needed to in order to finish the novel Crow Lake by Mary Lawson. The entire story is building up to the big catastrophe that forever destroys all the hopes and dreams the Morrison clan ever dared to hope and dream for its future. In the eyes of the narrator, it is even worse than the tragedy of the car crash that claimed both parents' lives one evening on the heels of some good news the family has received and celebrated. Now you can see why I dreaded getting to the end of a book that drips in foreboding like nobody's business. What can be a worse tra…