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

Nobody Does It Better

  • Apr 16, 2011
Rating:
+4
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 and entertainingly, as Holmes poses his cohort Dr. Watson with a question about an old cane left mysteriously in their Baker Street home office. Watson deduces an answer that delights Holmes - because it is "almost wholly wrong" - but pushed Holmes' own thoughts in the right direction. This is the epitome of Holmes as a character, like a Dr. House for the 19th Century: intelligent, cunning, excitable, egotistical, funny, determined, stubborn, with just enough mean spirit to keep it interesting.

Arthur Conan Doyle brings all these traits to bear in the mystery that unfolds from the old cane in the office - the fearful hound that seems to be hunting the Baskerville clan to extinction. Starting with the old family legend of Hugo Baskerville but straight into Holmes' present-day with the recent death of Sir Charles Baskerville under mysterious circumstances. The ancient hound is still said to be prowling the moor, and Sir Charles has seemingly died of pure terror, leaving Henry Baskerville the last surviving heir. Holmes' task is to solve the mystery of the hound and keep Henry alive, the tale of which is, as always told to us through the eyes and ears of Dr. Watson, Holmes' constant companion.

Which brings us to the only problem with Hound of the Baskervilles. For a time, about the middle third of the book, Holmes is absent from the story, and we are left to the narrative of Watson's own investigations into the matter. Watson is a fine and intelligent man, but he lacks the personality and ingenuity of Holmes. Simply put, without Sherlock Holmes front and center, the driving force and much of the fun of the story are gone with him. These chapters seem to drag slowly compared to to Holmes' breakneck pace. This uneven pacing is an unfortunate flaw in an otherwise flawless story.

But when Holmes makes his surprising return to the tale, he takes off at a gallop and never slows down until the end, leaving the reader gasping to catch up. The satisfying conclusion makes up considerably for the slower middle.

Truly, Doyle's tales of mystery are as much about the character of Sherlock Holmes as they are about his cases. He exerts his presence and his influence throughout the book, and steals the stage with every quip. As we see in Hound of the Baskervilles, without him, it's just a mystery. But with Holmes at the helm, it's more.

With Sherlock Holmes, it's an adventure.

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More Hound of the Baskervilles (Ala... reviews
review by . March 02, 2011
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 …
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Rich Stoehr ()
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I often hide behind a pithy Douglas Adams quote or maybe some song lyrics. I guess it makes sense that much of what I share is reviews of things I like (or don't).      People … 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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