Strange Practice

Vivian Shaw

Dr. Greta Helsing has the most unusual medical practice in modern London: most of her patients are dead. But if you are a banshee with laryngitis, a vampire with a head cold, or a mummy slowly succumbing to the ravages of time, who else are you going to call. Her family has had this practice for generations, and some of her family friends date back that long too. And she will need to learn to rely on those friends for help when a cult begins killing both her beloved monsters and humans across London.

So with her gang Edmund Ruthven (vampire), Sir Francis Varney (vampyre, with a ‘y’), Fastidocalon (ancient and inhuman, but not even Greta is quite sure what he is), August Cranswell (human, working at the British Museum), Greta finds herself unwilling drawn into both the serial killing the newspapers refer to as the Rosary Ripper, whose victims are found eyeless and naked with cheap rosaries stuffed in their mouths, and an attack on Varney by people dressed like monks, using garlic and a dagger poisoned specifically against the undead. And she can’t help but feel there is a connection between the two cases.

As the bodies pile up and Greta gets more involved in the cases, the danger ramps up for herself and her friends, becoming a race to solve the case or die trying. But whoever is behind this has been covering their tracks very well, and it doesn’t leave her, or the police, much to go on. Fortunately, Greta has some very talented and resourceful friends, because it will take all of their combined wits and courage to see this through. After all, it can be helpful to have friends who can become invisible or bend steel bars sometimes.

Through it all she has to maintain those friendships, run her business, and resist the powerful attraction she’s beginning to feel for one of her patients.

This is a good edge-of-your-seat mystery with likeable characters and unexpected twists and turns. This is the first Dr. Greta Helsing novel, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the author, Vivian Shaw, takes these characters next. The mix of action, locations, fantastic situations, mystery, and a hint of romance is a very pleasant combination.

Dethe Elza is a Digital Services Technician at the Brighouse Branch of the Richmond Public Library, where he helps kids learn to write their own computer games.