Sir Charles Baskerville’s corpse is found in the grounds of his Devonshire estate, Baskerville Hall, and despite a public inquest clearing up certain rumours regarding his death, certain private facts pertaining to the death are withheld.
These circumstances are revealed to famous consulting detective Sherlock Holmes by Dr Mortimer, a troubled friend of the recently deceased. Concerned at raising the grim historical reputation that surrounds Baskerville Hall, not to mention discarding his closely held scientific investigative principles in the face of proper evidence, he has chosen Holmes as a confidant in the matter in the hope that he can elude to certain unexplained, possibly paranormal possibilities in the case.
Legend and local superstition has it that a demonic hound stalks the moors surrounding the area and the insinuation (backed by some evidence) is that such hound is responsible for chasing down Sir Charles and terrifying him to death. There is also concern that a similar fate may befall his heir, Sir Henry Baskerville, who has received an anonymous note warning him to stay away from the moor if he values his life. Watson is sent ahead to investigate the goings on alongside Dr. Mortimer and Sir Henry, and soon discovers further mystery and hints at evil along the way.
I should probably add a disclaimer at some point, and that’s that The Hound of the Baskervilles is a favourite novel of mine. Possibly my favourite novel, depending on the hour of the day and my particular mood, but it has definitely been quoted as such several times. I even own copies in several languages I don’t speak (including Thai and Japanese). The reason I like it is that it doesn’t mess around, it’s prompt, punctual, lacks waffle put packs an awful amount of content and story into the mix, really does have a great mystery (actually several great mysteries going on) and concluded fantastically well.
The many different sub-plots running through the book intertwine perfectly. From the original supernatural-hinted themes of the hound itself, then later of the escaped murderous convict, the intriguing Stapletons of Merripit House, the back-story of the ancient lord of the manor in league with the devil, it all gels together to such great effect. Not to mention this is rip-roaring stuff, a classic gothic-themed novel with the added excellence of 221b Baker Street’s consulting detective, who takes a far more passive role than in other books, letting the other characters ripen and story flesh-out successfully.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is a must read. With not a wasted sentence, there’s not a moment of boredom to be had with this book. It’s a novel underpinned with a mouth-watering mystery and bump-in-the-night goings on, so if you haven’t done so already I urge you to check it out now.