In the last Classics Club Spin I was fortunate enough for it to land on Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, a book I had not only read before but one that was fairly short too. I was pretty happy when I saw this was my read and it fitted in nicely with my reading schedule and I have finished it before I return to school.
The Hound of the Baskervilles sees the return of Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick Dr Watson. This was published after Conan Doyle had sent Holmes to his untimely death so can be seen as an attempt to submit to the braying public who clearly needed more Sherlock adventures in their lives. It is also one of the few Holmes novels, with the majority of the stories being in short story form. We begin at Holmes’ infamous address of 221B Baker Street and Dr Mortimer calls to discuss the recent death of his friend and neighbour, Sir Charles Baskerville. The Baskerville family have been haunted by a terrifying hound for generations and when Sir Charles is found terrified to death, everyone is convinced the hound is responsible. Dr Mortimer is worried that Sir Charles’ heir might meet the same fate, so he enlists the help of Holmes and Watson to solve this mystery. Watson sets off to Devon on his own to get to know the neighbours and more about this mysterious, supernatural beast.
Like the rest of the world I have been an avid viewer of the fantastic series starring Benedict Cumberbatch, but it has been a while since I read any Sherlock Holmes so it was great to reread one. I vaguely remembered the plot, but had forgotten how intricate and detailed Holmes’ thinking and logic are and the in depth descriptions Conan Doyle uses throughout. The detail and thought behind his plots is amazing; it’s almost hard to believe that Conan Doyle believed in fairies and the supernatural having created such a logical and scientifically minded detective.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is a brilliant read and I would say it is a great introduction to Holmes if you haven’t read any of the stories before. I love how the majority of the narrative takes the reader out of the grimy streets of London and to the windswept, misty and unknown landscape of Devon and the moors. The setting is what makes this novel so memorable. The backdrop of Dartmoor and how it is a landscape full of bogs, mires and ancient, abandoned buildings helps to create an eerie atmosphere throughout, one where you can really believe in the supernatural and this hound from hell that is terrorising the Baskerville family. It truly shows how nature can hold such mysteries and uncertainties. I can’t think of any criticisms for this book; Holmes comes across as arrogant at times, but then that is one of the key traits of his character that makes him so endearing and unique. Watson’s narrative allows the reader to feel truly involved in the investigation. We know everything he does and can share in his clues and his frustrations at Holmes’ superior knowledge and secret methods. It is a brilliant detective novel and I do love detective novels, so really it was everything I could have asked for in a read and I’m so glad the Spin landed on The Hound of the Baskervilles as it meant I reread it much sooner than I would have done without the Spin.