Book Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles
This archived article was written by: Ashley Stilson
“There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you,” claims only consulting detective in the world. But even more stimulating than an impossible case for a detective, is an impossible mystery for a reader.
In Sir Arthur Conon Doyle’s “The Hound of Baskerville,” Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson find themselves in the darkening swamps of Dartmoor in Devon, England, chasing a beast that has sprung from the folds of nightmare.
The case begins in 221B Baker Street with a walking stick, a half-right deduction, and a legend. The tale describes an immoral Baskerville man who was chased into the darkness of the countryside mire by a demon hound.
The hound ripped out the man’s throat as payment for the man’s dark deeds. The hound was then cursed on the family of Baskerville until they atoned for their ancestor’s sins. But the hound has not been heard of since the first murder he committed on the moor.
Dr. James Mortimer has come to call Holmes’ attention to a more recent murder that borders on supernatural. Wealthy widower, Sir Charles Baskerville, was found dead on the grass of his estate. He died from fright, his face twisted in an expression of horror.
Evidence suggests that he had been running. Running as fast as he could. But there were no human footprints found around the body, only the imprints of a hound.
Now, Dr. Mortimer worries about the safety and sanity of Sir Henry Baskerville, the heir to the late Sir Charles. Intrigued, Holmes takes the case, but it seems trouble has followed Sir Henry even to Baker Street.
He shows Holmes and Watson a warning note consisting of cut out words from a newspaper. The note warns Sir Henry to keep away from the moor.
Not only was a note found, but Holmes and Watson chase after a man who had been following Sir Henry throughout London. The man escapes, and there is no stopping the mystery now.
Holmes claims he is too busy with other cases around London to travel to Dartmoor, but he sends Watson with Sir Henry back to Baskerville to protect the young heir and gather clues.
The Baskerville mansion lies on the outskirts of the Great Grimpen Moor where the hound killed the Baskerville ancestor.
In a series of telegrams, Watson describes the deepening case to Holmes, including an escaped convict, a candle in the window, and the howl of a hound that comes from the moor in the night.
As the number of possible victims and suspects grows, Watson is troubled by the continual absence of Holmes and the growing possibility that the beast he is following might not be entirely mortal.
This 100-year-old classic is the perfect detective mystery for any reader throughout the centuries. The tale of the hound provides suspenseful and gripping plot twists that will boggle the mind as once again Holmes proves his genius in the world of crime
More of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries include “A Study in Scarlet,” “The Sign of Four,” and “The Valley of Fear.” Similar detectives include Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot or the stories of American detective Ellery Queen.