The Hound of the Baskervilles

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Fourth Tuesday Book Club

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most well-liked and well-known characters in literature. In fact, many readers assume that he was real, not a fictional being. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author and creator, would receive letters for Holmes requesting help in criminal investigations and in personal matters. He even received an offer of marriage, to which Holmes could not agree. Doyle was knighted for his writings but tired of Sherlock. He decided to kill him off in a dramatic story called “The Final Problem.” The fans went wild! He could not kill Holmes! Even the author’s mother got upset and told him it was a mistake. After eight years and much pressure from his fans, Doyle brought Holmes back in perhaps his greatest and most famous adventure, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Holmes and his friend, John Watson, who appeared to write most of the stories from his perspective, were asked to help Dr. Mortimer, a country physician. The doctor’s concern surrounded the apparent natural death of his friend, Sir Charles Baskerville. The hook that draws Holmes into the mystery is the curse of the Baskerville family. It involves a legendary hound that threatens to kill members of the family. The real hook, however, was the fact that the footprints of a “ gigantic hound” were found near the body of Sir Charles. Now his nephew, Henry, who is the only known heir to the Baskerville estate, is arriving to claim his inheritance.

The story moves from London to the rural setting of Dartmoor in Devon Shire, where the ghostly black dog haunts the moors. This adds to the suspense, with fog, prehistoric stone dwellings and bog, much like quicksand, drawing its victims down to a slow, horrible death. It is here that Sir Henry meets the neighbors and the staff at Baskerville Hall. Watson is sent by Holmes to accompany and protect Sir Henry from any danger. The howling of a hound, an escaped convict, and other unknowns on the Moor give Watson plenty of reason for concern. Holmes eventually arrives on the scene and, with Watson and other’s assistance, solves the mystery surrounding Baskerville Hall.

The story is based on an actual legend from the tale of a curse on squire Richard Cabell and a hellish hound. His tomb can be seen in the Devon town of Buckfastleigh. There were other stories of a supernatural dog, the Yeth Hound, with which Sir Conan Doyle may have been familiar. The name of the family was taken from the noble family of Baskerville who were friends of Doyle. They were from Wales and requested that the location be changed in the novel.

This classic tale of mystery is one of four novels written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and easily the most famous. It is a well-written and constructed book that shows off the author’s great story telling ability. This is one of the highest rated books by our club members thus far. We highly recommend it.

Key Ideas from different club members:
A good mystery; At first hard to get into; Not a page turner or spellbinding; Fantastic reading; First Holmes story that I’ve read- want to read more; Always lots of surprises; Love the way he figures out mysteries; Everything’s explained by end of book; Classic Holmes; I love Sherlock Holmes; Love the new PBS “Sherlock” show.

The Club Members rating this book:
Linda Bowman, Pat Gombita, Pat Kuna, Juanita Sanner, Lee Ann Schrock, Sharon Shaffer, Bill Simmons, Lynn Simmons, Helen Skalski, and Linda Troll

Club’s Average Rating: 4.3 of 5 Rating Range: 3 to 5

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