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Mystery Monday Review – The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

This novel stars the detective duo of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. The story uses country superstitions, a fiendish hound, and an old family curse. Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead with a rictus of terror on his face. And near the corpse, in one of the most famous lines in detective fiction, “… the footprints of a gigantic hound!”

Conan Doyle skillfully piles up weird little incidents that unnerve the heir to the vast estate, Henry Baskerville. Even the unflappable Holmes is concerned for the safety of Sir Henry. He sends Watson with the heir to his remote Dartmoor mansion. Watson therefore is particularly active in this story and tells his story in letters, diary extracts, and straight exposition.

On the up side, Conan Doyle skillfully describes dreary landscape in order to capture an overall grim tone. Turning a conventional Victorian creepy novel into a Sherlock Holmes tale the plot feel fresh. What Conan Doyle called “female interest” is fostered in the story, mainly due to indirectly describing the hard lot of women, married and not, at the hands of men. There are melodramatic passages but they are a lot of fun.

On the down side, there are is a plot hole so large that even Holmes himself acknowledges it in the reveal when, provoked by questions, he says, “It is a formidable difficulty, and I fear that you ask too much when you expect me to solve it.”





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