The Hound of the Baskervilles: A Review
Sherlock Holmes had seen it all. One murder after another, you name it, he's seen it stolen (and returned). Hundreds of cases solved, but of them all, this may very well be the most unusual, and fortunately for the reader, the most entertaining.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is the third book that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote concerning the famous consulting detective, published several years after he killed off Holmes in "the Final Problem," though it takes place before that story.
This book shows Sherlock, Dr. Watson, and Doyle himself all at the top of their game. Within its pages, Doyle has decided to try something a little new. Not only does the story involve a potentially supernatural threat (a family is cursed to be haunted/hunted by an actual "Hellhound," and murders are starting to pile up), but Holmes himself is in a relatively small percentage of the book. Instead, we are treated to Dr. Watson on his own, using the skills he has cultivated over so many years at Holmes' side to solve the multitude of mysteries that plague the countryside.
The point-of-view changes several times, from the typical writings of Watson's recounting, to actual letters written to Holmes reporting on discoveries he has made in the course of his own investigations. This mix of styles keeps the story moving quickly, and always kept me interested. Also, the decision to actually exclude Holmes from such a large portion of the story kept the suspense high; we know that while Watson is an extremely intelligent man, he has no abilities that are nigh-supernatural, and thus no safety net.
Lastly, Doyle did a masterful job interweaving disparate mysteries into a cohesive whole. The plot dips and turns, dropping a clue large enough for the reader to notice, but not necessarily able to connect to the proper mystery. The red herrings and false leads are well done, and in the end everything ties together quite nicely.
As of this point, I've read three of the four Holmes novels, and two of the short story collections, and the Hound of the Baskervilles is by far my favorite. The atmosphere is thick with a feeling of dread, the plot is fast and entertaining, and the mystery itself keeps you guessing but rewards the hopeful detective with the payoff. If you haven't read any of Sherlock Holmes, make this the one you read. You can't go wrong with it.
Note on Edition: I experienced the story as part of the "Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes" audio edition, purchased on Audible.com. The narrator was Charlton Griffin, who did an amazing job with this story. The production value involved here is phenomenal, and really brought the story to life.
Audiobook Rating: 9/10