Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
Ballantine Books, 1901, 1902
Mystery; 173 pgs

Completed: 07/09/2007
Rating: * (Very Good)

First Sentence: Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table.

Reason for Reading: I initially came upon this particular title while searching for a book to fit into the 1900 category for the Reading Through the Decades Challenge. It sounded like it might be interesting, and knowing how I enjoy a good mystery, I figured it was about time I read something by the famous Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes after all is a mystery icon.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is my 8th selection for the Reading Through the Decades Challenge (or By the Decades Challenge), my 3rd selection for the Summer Mystery Reading Challenge, and my 1st for the Classics Challenge.

From the Publisher: Perhaps the most popular of all Sherlock Holmes stories, The Hound of the Baskervilles combines the traditional detective tale with elements of horror. When Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead on the wild Devon moorland with the footprints of a giant hound nearby, the blame is placed on a family curse-and it is up to Holmes and Watson to solve the mystery of the legend. Rationalism is pitted against the supernatural and good against evil, as Sherlock Holmes tries to defeat a foe almost his equal.

Comments: Sherlock Holmes is well known throughout the world as one of the finest literary detectives. His intelligence and skills in logic and observation surpass most, and he knows it. In fact, there was one part in the book where Holmes took offense to one of the characters referring to him as second best. Arrogance and a superiority complex are not qualities I tolerate well in significant characters in books, I'm afraid. Fortunately for Mr. Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle saw fit to have Dr. Watson as the narrator, therefore taking care of that little problem. Somewhat. My poor husband was worried as I read the first chapter that he was going to have to listen to my haranguing of the famous detective, which I had already begun to do. With a quick reminder to myself that if Watson, who was an intelligent man himself, was not insulted, I should not be. Hadn't I been forewarned that Sherlock Holmes thought a lot of himself? Of course, I had been. I had also been advised to take it with some humor, and so I did. Too, there was the consideration that the novel was written at the turn of the last century, over one hundred years ago.

With that behind me, I quickly lost myself in the mystery of The Hound of the Baskervilles, which I enjoyed immensely. The author laid out his story, leaving hardly a stone unturned. Sherlock Holmes is a whiz at putting the pieces of a puzzle together, even the little facts that may seem inconsequential at first. Dr. Watson himself is no slouch. He takes the lead throughout the book, even if the series is not named for him. It is he whom readers follow from London to Dartmoor to investigate the events at Baskerville Hall. It is from Dr. Watson's point of view that the story is told. While he may not be the one who figures everything out in the end, his findings and observations play a large part in Sherlock Holmes’ final wrap up of events.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is my first Sherlock Holmes novel and will not likely be my last. Even with my initial eye rolling at the character of Sherlock Holmes, I could not help but like him. He is not only smart and gifted, but there is some compassion beneath his rather logical and focused character. He is also a man of action, not just of thought. Dr. Watson provides good balance for the detective, being the more compassionate of the two. He takes notice of the beauty around him even when it does not have anything to do with the task at hand.

I cannot say I was surprised by much that occurred in the novel or by the outcome. The author left footprints all along the way so that the facts and details are all there for almost anyone who cannot help but add them up. The story itself was quite intriguing, just the same.

Favorite Part: I cannot tell you. It would ruin the effect.

Aside from that, I liked the setting of the novel. The author was able to give the moors a dark and foreboding feeling which was necessary for the story while at the same time capturing its beauty.

Note about the Author: If you would like to know more about the author, you can find a detailed biography here. The man led an extraordinary life. That alone makes me want to read some of his lesser known works.

Miscellaneous: Today is my dog’s anniversary with us. Six years ago today we brought him home from a local animal shelter. He had been a bit shy back then, taking his new surroundings in, unsure of what to expect. He settled in very quickly and soon gained his confidence. His initial shyness certainly wasn’t his natural state! He is actually very people-friendly and is a ball of energy that never rests. Except for now. He’s lying beside me, chewing a new rawhide bone at the moment.


  1. I loved Hound of The Baskervilles and I've read most Sherlock Holmes stories and enjoyed them. Holmes is definitely a flawed character - his ego being one of his biggest flaws and his dislike for women another, but the tales are enjoyable romps.

    Happy birthday to the pooch! My kitty went to the vet yesterday to cure his wanderlust. I can't wait to get him home.


  2. I read this years ago so it could do with a re-read at some point. I am glad you enjoyed it and will try some more. Everytime I get the Bakerloo tube line through Baker Street I smile to myself!

    Happy doggieversary.

  3. We felt the same pretty much. I'll eventually read some more Holmes, but I think I still like Poirot better.

  4. I really, really like your review style. I know I've said that before. :)

  5. Did you ever see the Sherlock Holmes dramatizations on PBS with Jeremy Brett? They do a good job (I think) of showing his personality "quirks."

    Give you your dog a pat from me!

  6. Your comment on the favorite part made me smile. Of course this means now I want to read it because I want to know! :)
    I haven't read any Sherlock Holmes. Oh and happy doggiversary :)

  7. Thanks for the great review! I'm almost convinced that I have to have it! Bookmooch, here I come!

  8. Happy doggiversary :)

    This one was recommended to me before, and it sounds like it would be a good introduction to mystery. Thanks for the great review!

  9. CJ - Thank you! My dog enjoyed his day, I think. He can't get enough of his new squeaky bone. I hope all went well with your kitty!

    I would rather a flawed character than a perfect one, so Holmes has that going for him. :-)

    Rhinoa - Thanks from my dog and I!

    I think I would get a big kick out of riding the tube through Baker Street.

    Michelle - Thank you!

    Eliabeth - Yes, we did! I agree too with you; I'm still partial to Poirot.

    Heather - Thanks, Heather. It's good to see you posting again. I've missed you!

    Bridget - No, I never did see the tv serial of Sherlock Holmes. I'll have to look into to it though. Maybe rent it through Netflix if it's available. Thanks for mentioning it!

    Iliana - It's terrible when my favorite part is too revealing because then I can't share it with anyone who hasn't read the book! Haha

    Thank you for doggiversary wishes!

    Andi - Thanks! I hope you will enjoy it, Andi. I don't think this one will put you to sleep.:-)

  10. Nymeth - Thank you!

    I hope you will like this one if you decide to try it!

  11. My favorite Sherlock Holmes mysteries are now the ones by Laurie R. King (starting with The Beekeeper's Apprentice). I do love the Doyles, of course, but she does such a great job - staying true to the original stories, but giving such depth and emotion to the characters. Plus they are solid mysteries with surprising twists and interesting historical details. You might enjoy them!

  12. Hmm, I've done so much blog-hopping that I can't remember who else just read a Sherlock Holmes. I've read exactly one and it was ages ago. Glad you enjoyed it. I really think it's about time to dig through the teenager's stockpile of Holmes books. I think he owns them all.

  13. Darla - I think I have a Laura King novel in my TBR collection that I won in a contest, but I'm not sure whether or not it's a Sherlock Holmes novel. I'll have to look and see. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Nancy - Elizabeth (Raidergirl3) read this one recently too. :-) If you do decide to read one of your son's Holmes' books, I hope you will enjoy it.

  14. I loved this book when I read it, oh so many years ago! My Grandma got me a whole collection of Holmes for Christmas one year. Agatha Christie is another favorite of mine!

    Great review, as usual!

  15. Someone once gave me a collection of ALL the Sherlock Holmes stories, as well as this novel, and though I hadn't thought I was interested, I ended up gobbling up all of it!

  16. I keep going back and forth between this one and Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS for the 1900's. Currently I'm on HofD. I'm really glad you enjoyed this though. Have you read HofD?

  17. Stephanie - I love Agatha Christie. I read a lot of her work when I was in high school and keep meaning to read more by her. I read one of her books last year and loved it--it reminded me of why she's one of my favorite mystery writers. :-)

    Dewey - I can see that happening! LOL

    Joy - I read Heart of Darkness years and years ago. I can't remember if it was for a college course or high school. I remember liking it, but it was very dark.

  18. Aha! Thanks. I can't keep my blogs straight. :)

  19. Yes, Holmes is a bit stuck on himelf. I'm glad to read that I'm not the only one who is tempted to "harangue" book characters.

  20. I read this for the Winter Classic Challenge and loved it. Holmes is so full of himself but still charming. Dr. Watson cracks me up. So glad you liked it.

  21. Nancy - Haha I know the feeling!

    Sherry - Yes, I talk to my books or the characters as I read sometimes. My husband never knows if I'm talking to him or my books! LOL

    Framed - It is quite good, isn't it? And, I agree, Holmes is charming even with his big ego. :-)

  22. I'm reading Arthur and George right now and I'm glad I just read The Hound

    I'm quite enthralled (and nearly finished). The Arthur is Arthur Conan Doyle and he is involved in a mystery. Serendipity.


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