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