Monday, October 12, 2015

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

If you've never read any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic Sherlock Holmes stories a good place to begin is The Hound of the Baskervilles. It remains his most popular novel and the perfect book to curl up with on a cold winter's night.  

The Hound of the Baskervilles begins with Holmes and Watson in their London flat on Baker Street.  The time is the 1880's and Dr. James Mortimer comes to see Sherlock Holmes to find out what really happened to his friend Sir Charles Baskerville.  The death was ruled a heart attack but Dr. Mortimer has questions.  He tells Sherlock Holmes that in the months leading up to his death, Sir Charles worried about the Baskerville curse.

The curse began in the 1600's when Hugo Baskerville captured a young woman imprisoning her on his estate.  She escaped and Hugo and his friends raced after her with their hounds in hot pursuit.  The young woman fell to her death but Hugo was killed too, savagely attacked by a monstorous hound. Since that time bad luck has befallen the Baskerville descendents.  Dr. Mortimer wants Holmes to investigate since he is sure he saw footprints of a very large animal near the place where Sir Charles had his heart attack.  

Holmes is skeptical but decides to take the case particularly since Charles Baskerville was worried about his nephew Henry Baskerville's well being. Henry was next in line to inherit the Baskerville home and it turns out when Holmes and Watson meet Henry they find that someone is following him but who and why?  Sherlock with the help of Dr Watson solves the case and the resolution is satisfying and believable.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is narrated by Dr. John Watson and he is a great observer of all that is going on including the brilliant mind of his friend Sherlock Holmes.  As someone once wrote there's a timelessness about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories.  No matter what else is happening in the world we can open our book and suddenly its 1884 and Holmes and Watson are sitting at the breakfast table reading the newspaper trying to decide which case they'll take on next.  Some things never get old.

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