I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Holmes and Watson are faced with their most terrifying case yet. The legend of the devil-beast that haunts the moors around the Baskerville families home warns the descendants of that ancient clan never to venture out in those dark hours when the power of evil is exalted. Now, the most recent Baskerville, Sir Charles, is dead and the footprints of a giant hound have been found near his body. Will the new heir meet the same fate?
This was a re-read for me, but after many decades. I had forgotten the charm of the Holmes stories and I’m glad to revisit one of my favourites. I just attended a theatrical performance of The Hound of the Baskervilles last weekend and wanted to compare the production to the original.
The roots of the forensic mysteries that I enjoy today are on display in The Hound, as Mr. Holmes uses logic and investigative techniques to catch slippery criminals. Conan Doyle was the great-grandfather of the genre, introducing components that we still expect in modern crime novels—an expert protagonist (medical examiner,
anthropologist, police detective), an attention to all kinds of details which can work as clues, and a side-kick or partner to create the conversations that allow the reader to know the thought processes that are crucial to solving the crime.
Because I had just seen the play, I’m not a good judge of whether there is still any sense of surprise when reading The Hound—I did enjoy the quality of the writing and the well-structured story, despite knowing the outcome. Not as elaborate or wordy as many novels from the 19th century, The Hound also displays a more stripped-down language, showing the evolution towards the 21st century crime procedural novel.