“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”
-Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles
Sherlock Holmes has become one of the most famous and influential characters in the history of world literature. In fifty-six short stories and four novels, he popularized the genre of detective fiction and inspired an entire television program. “Sherlock” became adapted into the English language to mean a detective or someone who is very shrewd. The Hound of the Baskervilles is probably Sherlock Holmes’s most famous story, novel or short story regardless. While the first Sherlockian book I reviewed, A Study in Scarlet, was divided into two sections — one detailing the solving of the mystery and the other detailing the background of the mystery (the latter section, incidentally, caused quite a controversy for its misrepresentations of Mormonism and Doyle’s lack of knowledge of American geography) — Doyle in The Hound of the Baskervilles focuses entirely on the mystery without digressing, whether to explain the background, or, à la Jules Verne and Herman Melville, elucidate the relevant context surrounding the storyline. This makes for an engrossingly suspenseful read.
The story begins when James Mortimer solicits Sherlock Holmes’s help to investigate the death of his friend, Sir Charles Baskerville. He was recently found dead in his estate, Baskerville Hall. Although the death was believed to be caused by a heart attack, Mortimer is suspicious, for Sir Charles died with a countenance of horror, and footprints of a “gigantic hound” was found near the body. Moreover, the Baskerville family has apparently been cursed since the English Civil War wherein a distant ancestor, Hugo Baskerville, sold his soul to the devil and was killed by a giant hound. Sir Charles believed in the curse, and was fleeing from something when he died. We follow Holmes as he investigates Sir Charles’s death.
Very suspenseful and enigmatic, we witness Holmes’s unorthodox and absolutely stunning methods for solving mysteries. Personally, it is Holmes’s usual shrewdness and knowledge of obscure yet effective ways of investigating crimes that have made his stories a major success. Although Holmes was heavily influenced by Dupin in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is often credited as one of the greatest detective fiction writers of all time, with The Hound of the Baskervilles being his bestselling Sherlockian story. Holmes’s shrewdness and unorthodox methods are juxtaposed with suspense, horror, and mystery — things which will certainly arrest the attention of anybody. And it’s because of those things that the book achieved immense success and the reader be delighted that they invested their time wisely in one of the most famous books ever written.
I would recommend this book to people who like Sherlock Holmes, mysteries, detectives, and British literature.