The White Worm
Siciliano's fourth novel takes Holmes and Vernier to the moors and coast of Yorkshire. The lovelorn Adam Selton has received a letter warning him to stay away from Diana Marsh because the red-headed female line of her family has long been accursed: the women are temptresses who can transform themselves into gigantic white serpents, or, to use the archaic term for serpentine dragons, "worms." A local Druidic cult has sprung up; strange monstrosities have been sighted in the woods at night; and livestock has gone missing. Diana's eccentric but beautiful aunt, Lady Arabella Verr, has recently arrived in the neighborhood and dominates her orphaned niece. Lady Verr has set her sights on their wealthy, but crazy new neighbor, the Byronic Edgar Caswall. When half-devoured bovine and human bodies begin to wash up ashore, Holmes must use all his skills to defeat a clever adversary and save Diana from becoming the next victim of the white worm.
The book was loosely inspired by Bram Stoker's problematic and bizarre final work, The Lair of the White Worm, but unlike Stoker's work, no gigantic white serpents were blown to bits and harmed in Siciliano's novel.
From the reviews:
Siciliano skillfully utilizes plot elements from an obscure Bram Stoker novel in his stellar fourth Sherlock Holmes pastiche (after 2013's The Grimswell Curse). Adam Selton, the young heir to a large estate, comes to Baker Street after getting a note warning him away from his fiancée, Diana Marsh; the letter was accompanied by a copy of the legend concerning her family curse, originated by a woman who had the ability to transform herself into a gigantic serpent. The family's lands at Diana's Grove in Whitby are rumored to be haunted by such a creature. Holmes and his friend and cousin, Dr. Henry Vernier, travel to the region, where they meet Diana and her aunt, Lady Verr, whose husband recently blew his brains out. Despite the incredible nature of the reports, they're lent credence when the half-devoured corpse of a missing cow is found floating at sea and the cousins spot a glowing green light in the grove. The explanation is ingenious and plausible. Siciliano again offers a Holmes who will be familiar to fans of the canon.
Publishers Weekly, February 22, 2016