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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Hound of the Baskervilles (Aladdin Classics) » User review

"A devilish affair"

  • Mar 2, 2011
Rating:
+5
When Henry Baskerville, the last remaining scion of the family, travels from Canada to England to take up residence in Baskerville Hall after the puzzling violent death of his uncle, Sir Charles, he is immediately greeted with a string of baffling mysteries not the least of which is the legend of an enormous hound residing on the moors in Devon. Dr James Mortimer, family friend to the Baskervilles, engages Holmes and Watson to advise and protect Henry and to resolve the issue of the hound's existence once and for all. Not one to believe in supernatural phantoms such as this spectral hound from hell endowed with "blazing eyes and dripping jaws", Holmes dispatches Watson to scout out the terrain and place the neighbouring residents under the proverbial magnifying glass - Stapleton, the accomplished entomologist and his beautiful sister, Beryl, who attempts to warn off Henry from taking up residence in the hall; Frankland, a crotchety busybody with a telescope and his troubled daughter, Laura Lyons, recovering from an ill-advised marriage; and the Barrymores, long time butler and housekeeper to the Baskerville family, who are clearly carrying a disturbing secret of their own.

True to the well-established paradigm of the Holmes canon, Doyle allows Watson to tell the tale with a deliciously full serving of speculation, theorizing based on "incomplete data", emotion, gentlemanly bravado, flowery Victorian atmosphere, elegant dialogue, and extensive detail on the routine of daily living at the turn of the century such as communicating by telegram and traveling by coach. His development of the bleak, dark, gloomy atmosphere of the moor is masterful:

"Over the green squares of the fields and the low curve of a wood there rose in the distance a grey, melancholy hill, with a strange jagged summit, dim and vague in the distance, like some fantastic landscape in a dream."

An easy one evening read over the comfortable space of a couple of hours, The Hound of the Baskervilles moves swiftly from the traditional cozy opening of Holmes' Baker Street digs to a resounding climax that is packed with more excitement and action than almost any other story in the entire Holmes litany. Two thumbs up and a five star recommendation to readers of all ages!

Paul Weiss

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March 03, 2011
Nice review, Paul! I'm surprised I haven't made a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Sherlock Holmes badge yet. I'll have to get on that ASAP since you've written such an excellent review. Doyle would be proud!
March 03, 2011
Thanks, Adrianna.
March 05, 2011
Welcome! :D
 
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review by . April 16, 2011
He has many followers. From Marple to Millhone, from Rebus to Rockford, from Scarpetta to the Scooby Gang. When it comes to the sciences of investigation, detection and deduction, Sherlock Holmes is the original, and still the best.      In The Hound of the Baskervilles, we see the reason for this - both in his unforgettable presence, and his unfortunate absence.      We see in the first few pages how the presence of Holmes drives the story forward, unrelentingly …
About the reviewer
Paul Weiss ()
Ranked #16
   A modern day dilettante with widely varied eclectic interests. A dabbler in muchbut grandmaster of none - wilderness camping in all four seasons, hiking, canoeing, world travel,philately, … more
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We owe 1902'sThe Hound of the Baskervillesto Arthur Conan Doyle's good friend Fletcher "Bobbles" Robinson, who took him to visit some scary English moors and prehistoric ruins, and told him marvelous local legends about escaped prisoners and a 17th-century aristocrat who fell afoul of the family dog. Doyle transmogrified the legend: generations ago, a hound of hell tore out the throat of devilish Hugo Baskerville on the moonlit moor. Poor, accursed Baskerville Hall now has another mysterious death: that of Sir Charles Baskerville. Could the culprit somehow be mixed up with secretive servant Barrymore, history-obsessed Dr. Frankland, butterfly-chasing Stapleton, or Selden, the Notting Hill murderer at large? Someone's been signaling with candles from the mansion's windows. Nor can supernatural forces be ruled out. Can Dr. Watson--left alone by Sherlock Holmes to sleuth in fear for much of the novel--save the next Baskerville, Sir Henry, from the hound's fangs?

Many Holmes fans prefer Doyle's complete short stories, but their clockwork logic doesn't match the author's boast about this novel: it's "a real Creeper!" What distinguishes this particular Hound is its fulfillment of Doyle's great debt to Edgar Allan Poe--it's full of ancient woe, low moans, a Grimpen Mire that sucks ponies to Dostoyevskian deaths, and locals digging up Neolithic skulls without next-of-kins' consent. "The longer one stays here ...

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