“Originally serialized in the Strand Magazine, Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles follows the infamous Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson as they investigate the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville, whose body is found on the misty and desolate Devon moors. The locals blame his death on the legend of the fearsome phantom hound that they claim has haunted the Baskerville family for generations. Holmes’ detective skills are put to the test as he battles to discover the truth behind the legend and to solve one of the most macabre mysteries of his career.”
Written after The Final Problem, where author Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes, but set during the time when John Watson was still Sherlock’s flatmate, I must say that there’s a certain incongruity in the characterization of the detective between the earlier stories and the one the author presents in this novel. Though, it’s not that noticeable since Sherlock only becomes a major player in the latter half of the novel.
That said, it could also be because of this absence that I feel the Sherlock in this story is a little different than the one in A Scandal in Bohemia, and other early works.
With that said though, I did enjoy reading The Hound of the Baskervilles immensely, this being the first full-length Holmes novel I’ve read. All the others were short stories. This might also be a factor in my perceived incongruity.
But going back to the story; I really liked how Doyle weaved the mysteries in the novel to cause complications and red herrings within the main plot: which is with regards to the mystical hound that is, supposedly, on the hunt for the last of the Baskervilles: Henry. We have characters that, through human nature and their characterization, manages to confound the reader–as well as our fictional detective.
What’s more, because of the way Doyle introduces and writes said characters, you really do see how each one of them can end up being the culprit behind the hound. It’s a very smart novel in that it covers all the roads to the solution–even one that might take us to the realization that the hound is just a figment of imagination. And yet, at the end of it all, when Sherlock finally reveals who the criminal mastermind is, you find yourself going “of course it’s that person!”
The Hounds of Baskerville is a wonderful mystery novel that has its readers guessing to the last second. How I wish there are more novels like this–more contemporary novels, that is.