The first half of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles started out with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson trying to identify a cane they had found. They easily find out the man is a doctor and all of a sudden he appears at the doorsteps of their house. His name is Dr. Mortimer and he asks for his cane and tells Holmes and Watson a story: In the 17th century, arrogant Hugo Baskerville brutalizes a servant and prepares to turn the servant’s daughter over to his equally depraved companions, but she escapes. When he catches up with the girl in a ruined abbey, he kills her and then is attacked and killed himself by a huge hound that is never seen.
Dr. Mortimer was the physician and friend to the late Sir Charles Baskerville, who recently died of fright on the Devonshire moors near that same ruined abbey. Holmes is very skeptical, but agrees to meet Sir Henry Baskerville, who has just arrived in London to claim the estate. Sir Henry is cold and aloof but becomes convinced he’s in danger when he’s almost bitten by a tarantula. Holmes insists that he is not go to Baskerville Hall alone, so Holmes sends Watson to Devonshire with Sir Henry.
As I read through the first 7 or 8 chapters of this Sherlock Holmes mystery, I noticed how well Sir Arthur Conan Doyle can describe the characters as well as the scenery in a few short paragraphs. He also introduced the plot of the story in the first paragraph.
As I read on I realized how much I enjoyed this book. Im a fan of mystery books and that is most likely the reason I could stick with the book so well. At times though I felt that Doyle rambled on too much on one subject or a conversation between two people. It did take away a bit of my interest but not enough to bore me.
The second half of the book starts in Devonshire, where Sir Henry and Watson learn that an escaped convict, Selden, is at large on the moor. Watson meets local Bishop Frankland , and later on the moor, Baskerville’s neighbors, Stapleton and his daughter. Watson is almost trapped in one of the many bogs that dot the moors, but he escapes. Later, leaving Sir Henry stricken with a mild heart attack at the hall, Watson ventures again onto the moors, and to his surprise, discovers Sherlock Holmes there. Holmes has been hiding and watching for developments. They hear the howl of the hound, and are too late to prevent the huge beast from killing a man they take for Sir Henry. But back at Baskerville Hall, they find Sir Henry alive and well: the dead man was the convict Selden, dressed in some old clothes of Sir Henry’s. At the ruined abbey, they find evidence that a strange rite has been performed.
When Holmes visits Frankland for information, he learns that someone has stolen the bishop’s tarantula. Meanwhile, near Baskerville Hall, Sir Henry meets Cecile, and they are attracted to one another. Holmes, Mortimer and Stapleton descend into a disused tin mine in search of evidence, but a cave-in almost traps Holmes. That evening, when Sir Henry goes to meet Cecile on the moors, he learns that she actually hates him, and that the hound is now on his trail. Holmes and Watson arrive almost too late to save him, but Holmes kills the hound and reveals it’s an ordinary, if large, dog in a mask. The villain is a descendant of Sir Hugo’s from the wrong side of the sheets, he and his daughter were determined to use the legend of the Hound to kill those standing between them and Baskerville Hall.
As the conclusion of this book draws near, I realize what an interesting book this is. Doyle does his job well of adding a dose of suspense and mystery to each chapter. The plot evolves greatly through the last few chapters and the mystery behind the hound is revealed.
The book was exciting and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys mysteries.