The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

My first Sherlock Holmes!  Completely inspired by my inhaling the BBC’s Sherlock and falling in love with Benedict Cumberbatch.  I immediately picked up the only Holmes story I owned and dug in, only slightly nervous about how well the older, original stories would hold up against the newer BBC version.  I know that’s not really fair since Holmes is a Doyle creation, but all my fears were shortly put to rest!

In The Hound, the Baskerville family has been plagued by a nasty legend involving an almost supernatural hound creature.  If at any time they find themselves out on the Devon moor alone at night, bad things are sure to happen!  When Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead just outside his estate’s gate, Sherlock Holmes and his trusty Watson are called in to investigate how Sir Charles met his mysterious end.  Can they figure out the culprit of these seemingly canine murders in time to save the new heir’s life?

Weak plot description, I know.  It’s just that I don’t want to give anything away since half the fun’s in guessing who (or what) dunnit.  I was really worried that Doyle’s original stories wouldn’t hold up well in the modernity of today’s mystery novels, but definitely not the case at all.  The language and prose are both beautiful and simplistic.  In many ways, the story felt incredibly fresh and contemporary, with only the slightly archaic mentions of carriages, cloaks, and telegrams.  But even these dated references didn’t ruin the vivacity of the story – instead they added a coziness and decidedly British feel that was entirely welcome.  I’m actually shocked at how talented a writer Doyle turned out to be – not sure why I should be shocked since his novels have held up so long.

What most surprised me was how little Sherlock Holmes was actually used in this particular story.  Watson definitely takes center stage and never comes off as bumbling (which modern adaptations can sometimes fall victim to).  I thoroughly enjoyed Watson and often never even missed Holmes, but was pleasantly surprised when he showed his lovably arrogant face again.  And Holmes seemed a bit softer and more jovial in Doyle’s text than in the updated scripts of the past few years.  Two very fantastic characters for the price of one!

Honestly, the only thing that holds me back from shouting the highest praise is the book’s inability to keep me guessing very long.  I knew who the killer was quite early on as I suspect most readers will discover as well.  The plot was just a bit too transparent.  Doyle might have had better success if he’d created more characters or suspects, but when the mystery takes place in a nearly deserted moor – things aren’t going to be too complicated.

I do highly recommend fitting some Sherlock Holmes in your busy reading schedules!  Delightful characters, quickly moving mysteries, and atmosphere in spades will keep you turning the pages.  Really want to find a great Holmes collection and read all his stories and novels.  If anyone has any suggestions of a particular volume, please let me know in the comments.  What are your favorite Holmes stories?  Have you seen Sherlock?  Is anyone watching Elementary and enjoying?

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A Classics Club selection!

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11 thoughts on “The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  1. My advice is simple: you should read all the books! I read through them in order last year and I really enjoyed seeing the characters develop as they go along. The short stories tend to be better than the novels, and I would recommend The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes as the best collection. The Casebook comes last and it’s slightly weaker than the others.
    One other fun thing is seeing what the developers of the TV Sherlock took from the original stories, because in every case, they only use the originals as a jumping off point.

  2. I love Sherlock – and I think it’s partly because it seems so true to ACD. Of course, looking at Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t hurt!

  3. I shamefully admit that I have only seen the two recent movie adaptations. I have yet to watch the two seasons of BBC series and Elementary. I own most of the books about Sherlock Holmes but have never read any. I gather this is a good place to start?

    • You must watch the BBC series!! As far as the reading goes, Hounds is the only thing I’ve read, but it does come a bit late in the life of Mr. Holmes. Many people prefer the short stories, but I don’t think it matters tremendously where you start!

  4. I have 2 volumes that purport to being the entire Sherlock Holmes collection, and they are sitting right next to me as I type, and I have never picked one up. You really make a great case for why I should get to these, and soon. They both sound like such likable and competent characters! Nice review today!

  5. Pingback: The Classics Club: Wherein I Cave and Join… | The Blog of Litwits

  6. My favorites are The Silver Blaze and The Valley of Fear. Holmes make some amazing deductions here.

    I love the BBC series. Benedict is great as Holmes. Can’t wait for the 3rd season.

    I found Elementary to be little unexciting for a Sherlock Holmes adaptation.

    • I didn’t get into Elementary at all even though I like Johnny Lee Miller. But after watching Ben Cumberbatch, there really is no comparison. I’ll definitely have to give your recommendations a try!

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