“…He said there were no traces upon the ground round the body. He did not observe any. But I did- some little distance off, but fresh and clear.”
“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!” *
Among all of the numerous fictional characters that have made their entrance into the world of stories, legends, and mysteries; few have been as popular or as well-remembered as Sherlock Holmes and his faithful counterpart Dr. John Watson. The eccentric, amateur detective and the loyal, retired army surgeon solve crimes of the most bizarre types in four novels and fifty-six short stories. The Hound of the Baskervilles-written by Arthur Conon Doyle- was first published in 1902 by George Newness, and it falls in the mystery\detective genre.
The story takes place in England in the late 19th century. Holmes and Watson are enjoying a leisurely morning in Baker Street when a young doctor comes to ask their opinion on a death that had recently happened at Devonshire, in Baskerville Hall. While most are convinced that the victim-Sir Charles Baskerville-died as the result of a heart attack, his doctor, Dr. James Mortimer, thinks otherwise. He tells Holmes and Watson of a strange tale that was handed down from generation to generation of the Baskervilles, a tale of a huge man-eating hound that was said to wander the moor at night. In recent years, this story was dismissed by most, but Sir Charles took it very seriously and refused to walk on the moor after sundown. In fact, he was becoming so nervous about the whole affair that Dr. Mortimer became very worried and was going to suggest a short holiday in town. The next night, Sir Charles was found lying dead on the outskirts of his estate. When the scene was examined, Dr. Mortimer found a footmark that alarmed him; the mark of the foot of a giant hound.
Holmes agrees to take up the case, sending Dr. Watson as his agent to Baskerville Hall with the young heir to the estate; Sir Henry Baskerville. While there, a series of events causes much unrest and anxiety to both Sir Henry and Dr. Watson. What do missing boots, strange messages, lights on the moor, secretive servants, and a long, haunting cry have to do with the mystery of the Hound of the Baskerville? Is it just a dirty trick, playing on superstition to scare the inhabitants of Baskerville, or is there some deeper, more sinister intent? Is there really a hound on the moor? And if there is; is it just an ordinary hound, or, as some suggest, is it some agent of the devil? What is the truth behind all of these seemingly unrelated incidents?
Arthur Conon Doyle uses excellent dialogue in his Sherlock Holmes novels. His use of detail is immense-as he wrote mysteries-but it never becomes dull or monotonous. His stories flow very well and there were no dull spots. This book was not a particularly easy read; I would say about medium-hard.
I would highly recommend this book for 12+. There are some mature themes and very mild language, and it can be quite chilling at times. It has excellent literature qualities, a thrilling story, and well-loved characters. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
*Excerpt taken from The Hound of the Baskervilles, written by Arthur Conon Doyle, published in 1902 by George Newness.
P.S. I am a self-acclaimed fan of Sherlock Holmes. Just F.Y.I. 😉