Sometimes there’s a novel that you just know is a classic, regardless of reviews or era, the quality of the text, the story, and the development of the plot makes a book an instant hit, either with an individual or a group. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles is such a story. One of Doyle’s best, with vivid imagery, tense drama, and lively action, The Hound of the Baskervilles has something for everyone, and as such, is one of the most recognised book titles ever-behind perhaps The Bible in scale.
When I read the section detailing a man seen on a tor in a misty moor, I instantly (perhaps due to Sherlock bringing it to my attention) thought of the image Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, which is such a brilliant picture it could have been drawn to accompany the book. Similarly to Tess of the D’Urbervilles, it is a ‘proper classic’, over 100 years old and established in that right. A little shorter than some, but as mentioned above, the book is far from devoid of interesting material.
In one of the most memorable plots I’ve read, we see a family legend-the owner of the spooky Baskerville Hall, on a moor in Dartmoor, will be killed by a demonic hound due to the dastardly actions of a forefather Hugo Baskerville. It seems just that, a legend-until Sir Charles Baskerville is killed, with one solitary footprint near him-that of a hound. His heir Henry Baskerville inherits the estate, and employs Holmes and Watson to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Safe to say, Doyle gives the reader some beautiful descriptive prose-Doyle delights the reader with text that gives even those who have never been to Dartmoor a beautiful-yet eerie and creepy-image of the “lush grasses and more luxuriant vegetation”.
There is enough action for even the most diehard action fan, yet at the same time, the best is saved for the climatic last few pages. We gradually get a picture of the facts from Watson, but it takes a Holmesian genius to work out the mystery. Doyle expertly keeps the suspense throughout, and the plot twists like an eel in a bid for freedom.
It is almost-key word being almost-a break from Doyle’s crime formula, nearly veering into a Gothic setting-dark moors, a creepy old house with night wanderers-it’s a Gothic novelist’s dream-or nightmare.
Although I try and cover both sides of the coin, I genuinely cannot think of a flip side to this magnificent tale. It is a firm favourite of mine, and I cannot think what I would want improved, it is all perfect!
Publishing house-Penguin books (range of publishers)
“A man’s or a woman’s?”
Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and his voice sank almost to a whisper as he answered: “Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!”
Value for money-mostly very good, except for American hardback, on which a better offer could likely be found-★★★★½
Character development-everyone knows Sherlock Holmes and Watson, but both they and the supporting characters were expertly developed-★★★★★
Readability-thrilling page turner that left me desperate for more-★★★★★
Overall-a brilliant novel which has something for everyone, one of the great detective’s great stories-★★★★★ (100)