The plot involves Sherlock Holmes and Watson becoming involved in investigating the murder of Sir Charles Baskerville, who seemingly died of fright outside his home one evening, but a disturbing family legend/ curse makes people question whether it was an accident or not. The heir to the estate, Henry Baskerville, is brought in from Canada and family friend Dr. Mortimer wants to make sure nothing happens to him. Holmes sends Watson to stay with Baskerville and to send back reports of anything that might help him solve the case. A suspicious married couple (the butler and housekeeper at Baskerville Hall), an escaped convict on the run, and a few slightly eccentric neighbors give Watson enough information to fill his reports and keep him on his toes. But will they discover who or what is out to get Henry Baskerville before it is too late! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle really knows how to create imagery in his books. There is a lot of description of landscape, so you can really picture the moor, Baskerville Hall, etc. What I found interesting is that Sherlock Holmes is pretty much absent for the bulk of the story. Watson is sent to investigate since Holmes states that he cannot leave London at the moment due to other cases, so we hear much of the story from Watson's investigative POV. I enjoyed that because many movie versions portray Watson as a bumbling fool but this novel illustrates that he is an accomplished investigator in his own right.
I've been meaning to read this one for years and finally got around to it after my daughter had to read it as an assignment for her English class. I found it quite entertaining although I have seen two or three movie versions (including my favorite with Basil Rathbone as Holmes) so I wasn't surprised about the outcome of the novel. I have read other Holmes stories and have always enjoyed them. This one was in particular very good with its locale on the moors and the fearsome legend of the "Hound from Hell" and the Baskervilles. I would give this one a high recommendation.
Back cover: "It's an ugly business, Watson, an ugly, dangerous business, and the more I see of it the less I like it..." Holmes is referring to the recent death of Sir Charles Baskerville. For the "luminous, ghastly, and spectral" hound of family legend has been seen roaming the moors at night, and it appears that the new baronet, Sir Henry has inherited, along with the ancient home and vast wealth of his family, a dreadful destiny....
Amazon.com (Average rating - 4.5/5 stars):
We owe 1902's The Hound of the Baskervilles to Arthur Conan Doyle's good friend Fletcher "Bobbles" Robinson, who took him to visit some scary English moors and prehistoric ruins, and told him marvelous local legends about escaped prisoners and a 17th-century aristocrat who fell afoul of the family dog. Doyle transmogrified the legend: generations ago, a hound of hell tore out the throat of devilish Hugo Baskerville on the moonlit moor. Poor, accursed Baskerville Hall now has another mysterious death: that of Sir Charles Baskerville. Could the culprit somehow be mixed up with secretive servant Barrymore, history-obsessed Dr. Frankland, butterfly-chasing Stapleton, or Selden, the Notting Hill murderer at large? Someone's been signaling with candles from the mansion's windows. Nor can supernatural forces be ruled out. Can Dr. Watson--left alone by Sherlock Holmes to sleuth in fear for much of the novel--save the next Baskerville, Sir Henry, from the hound's fangs?
Many Holmes fans prefer Doyle's complete short stories, but their clockwork logic doesn't match the author's boast about this novel: it's "a real Creeper!" What distinguishes this particular Hound is its fulfillment of Doyle's great debt to Edgar Allan Poe--it's full of ancient woe, low moans, a Grimpen Mire that sucks ponies to Dostoyevskian deaths, and locals digging up Neolithic skulls without next-of-kins' consent. "The longer one stays here the more does the spirit of the moor sink into one's soul," Watson realizes. "Rank reeds and lush, slimy water-plants sent an odour of decay ... while a false step plunged us more than once thigh-deep into the dark, quivering mire, which shook for yards in soft undulations around our feet ... it was as if some malignant hand was tugging us down into those obscene depths." Read on--but, reader, watch your step!
Should be required reading for all ages! This is a fun book. When Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead of mysterious causes, Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson must investigate the age-old rumors that a hound haunts the Baskerville estate and the eerie lands of the Dartmouth moors.