The Hound of The Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes and trustworthy partner, Dr. Watson, investigate the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville on the moors of his estate in Devon.  When the footprints of a giant hound are discovered near the body, locals suspect that it is the work of a family curse that had also ended in tragedy for the family in an earlier generation.  Time is then of the essence because if an ancient curse is indeed at work, then Holmes and Watson have to get to the bottom of things before the latest of the Baskerville heirs falls victim.

I hadn’t read any Sherlock Holmes in a really long time, probably since middle school.  I remember loving the stories at the time, and loving the Holmes and Watson relationship.  So I was in for a bit of a shock about the nature of Holmes and that relationship as I picked up The Hound of the Baskervilles.  This story was a bit darker than the stories that I remember, with Holmes a more cynical character- his relationship with Watson more condescending and more manipulative than I remembered.  Not quite the lovable and focused detective I remembered, but definitely an interesting one.  I was pleased to read other stories to discover the Holmes that matched more carefully what I remembered.  The Hound of the Baskervilles marks a place in the Sherlockian canon where Holmes personality and eccentricities are often exaggerated, and not to his credit.

Holmes bad attitude notwithstanding, The Hound of Baskervilles has all the elements that you would expect from a rousing detective story, and has the key elements that you come to expect from a Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson story.  A mysterious guest arrives at Baker Street, Holmes deduces many things about him (out of apparently nothing), Watson is shocked, and Sherlock agrees to take the case – which only his expertise can solve.  This is one of the four novels that Doyle wrote about Sherlock Holmes and as a result you really get to know some of the suspects, most of the action is located in the Baskerville estate in Devon, and an interesting subplot supplements the main story.

It’s rare that I can pick out the murderer in a Holmes story, and this one was no different.  There is a supernatural element in the story and the closest that I came to knowing anything was figuring out whether I believed that element played a role in the murder.  I was happy to play the spectator and see how everything worked out.  The moor was a sinister and standout character in the story and I enjoyed the descriptions of its wild and dangerous beauty.  The suspects that I had to choose from had engaging backgrounds, and to my credit I am not sure that it was indeed possible for me to have known whodunnit until I found out at the very end.

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