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Saturday, 8 June 2013

Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle (England)

Title: The Hound of the Baskervilles
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Publication: ---
Original Publication: 1901/UK: George Newnes
ISBN #: ---
# of pages: 359
Rediscovered as a free download on my Kobo
Read in e-book format
Also available in paper format, audio CD

A fine silver banded walking stick is left in Sherlock Holmes’ office and when the owner, Dr. James Mortimer, returns to claim it, Holmes and his ever-present sidekick Dr. Watson learn about the curse of the Baskerville family. In the 1640’s, the evil Hugo Baskerville kidnapped a local young woman. She escaped, only to have Hugo chase her through the dangerous moors. When his drunken friends caught up, they found them both dead, and a huge black dog, with blazing eyes and dripping jaws, standing over them.  An account of the event was written down in 1742 by a later heir, also named Hugo, and passed down through the centuries. Now the current heir, Sir Charles Baskerville, has died suddenly and with no apparent foul play, however the paw print of a huge dog is found near the body. The next heir, nephew Henry, is returning from Canada and Mortimer fears he will be the next to die.
Although Holmes becomes intrigued by the mystery, he is not available to go to Devon and sends Watson on his own. Watson has a lot to consider. The Barrymores, long-time family servants, seem in a hurry to leave. Jack Stapleton and his sister Beryl have a complicated relationship, especially apparent when Sir Henry falls in love with Beryl. Could Selden, a dangerous escaped convict hunted by the police, be involved? And who is the mysterious L.L.? With reference to his diary and his recollections, Watson recounts the suspenseful events that lead to the unravelling of the mystery of the Hound.
Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie were among my earliest murder mystery readings and it was wonderful to re-experience this early entry in the genre.  Despite being written more than one hundred years’ ago, it is still a very readable tale. It was a bit disappointing that Holmes was absent in the first half of the story. Holmes’ and Watson’s discussion about what the walking stick tells them about the owner is one of the few times Holmes’ powers of deduction are demonstrated. He does show his usual flare in uncovering the culprit in the latter part though. Unlike “The Moonstone” written some 30 years earlier (see my review ), the writing here is crisp and to the point. There are not many twists in the storyline but the suspense builds steadily, with the foggy brooding moors always on the horizon, and as the end draws near, you do want to keep reading.     Rating: (^_°)   Intriguing

Notable sentence: Sherlock Holmes to Dr. Watson just before telling him how wrong Watson’s deductions are:  “It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it.”

Doyle was a Scottish physician best known for the 60 stories he wrote about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. He also wrote other short stories, three largely autobiographical novels, and several historical novels. His medical school mentor, Professor Dr. Joseph Bell, was renowned for his powers of observation and became the model for Holmes. Doyle had actually killed off Holmes in an earlier book so that he could concentrate on his spiritualism writings. Sir Henry’s pondering of whether the supernatural interfere in the affairs of mankind reflects Doyle’s own fascination with spiritualism. Doyle's séances to connect with dead relatives is difficult to equate with the creator of a very rational and logical Sherlock Holmes.


  1. I love all Holmes stories and reread them on a regular basis. Like you, I grew up on Christie and Conan-Doyle.

    1. I'm starting to reread these classics. I may even join the Christie challenge next year to give myself a push!

  2. Like many other readers, Sherlock Holmes was my introduction, as a young child, to the world of mystery fiction. I still re-read my Holmes - and my Christie as well. Thanks for the review!

    1. Oops, just noticed I did my usual trick of "commenting" instead of "replying" back in june. You're welcome! I see from your blog you are also a Nero Wolfe fan - another favourite of mine. Time for a re-read of those, I think.

  3. You're welcome! I see from your blog you're also a Nero Wolfe fan - another favourite of mine. Time for a re-read of those, I think.

  4. I like your comparison to Wilkie Collins. It is amazing how modern Conan Doyle can still feel! As you say, sharp and crisp style, intriguing characters, suspense. It's all there.

    1. Ah, I see you like the classics too!!! Who else have you enjoyed? You previously mentioned Wilkie Collins.