I must confess, I actually owned a copy of this book previously and donated it after only wading through a few pages. Although I had read some Sherlock Holmes mystery stories before, I found this one to be a little more…creepy. However, after finding a used copy for sale at the library for a quarter, I decided to give the book another chance.
Getting older always brings hints of irony; I loved the story this time around!:)
I actually “read” this book via an audiorecording produced by the folks at Librivox. I highly recommend this organization, especially for those bookworms who love classic literature. All the recordings they do are of public domain pieces read by volunteers. You can find pretty much any classic novel on their list of recordings, in addition to short stories, poems, Scripture, etc.
But, I’m chasing a rabbit trail. On to the discussion!
Sherlock Holmes and his trusty side-kick, Dr. Watson, are faced with a perplexing mystery. Sir Charles Baskerville, owner of the Baskerville Hall and estate, has died a most mysterious death. Surrounding his sudden demise are tales of the legendary Hound of the Baskervilles and the ensuing curse the animal fulfills. Dr. Mortimer, the fallen man’s physician and friend, along with the heir to the Baskerville estate – Sir Henry Baskerville- recruit the help of Holmes and Watson in clarifying the perplexing details surrounding the death of Sir Charles. As they work to solve the mystery, Holmes and Watson encounter many frustratingly complex tangles, such as a spy who tells people his name is Sherlock Holmes, a chilling howl of a hound near Baskerville Hall, and the disappearance of Sir Henry’s boots. I will refrain from providing a complete synopsis in order to avoid spoiling the suspense of the “who-dun-it” question. But, I will say that The Hound of the Baskervilles is a gripping read that will keep you turning pages and ignoring the clock.
Aside from the masterful employment of suspense and mystery-weaving, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle makes this book memorable through his excellent characterization. Many cooky characters live around the Baskerville estate, like Mr. Stapleton, the naturalist who hunts bugs on the moor with his trademark green butterfly net, and Mr. Frankland, the old gentleman whose hobby is lawsuits. Of course, the superb characters of Holmes and Watson shine in the story as well. The reader gets a good dose of Holmes’ no-nonsense approach to life and his dry wit and humor, as well as Watson’s drive and inquisitiveness.
As for the family friendliness of this book, I would give The Hound of the Baskervilles 4 out of 5 stars. God’s name is taken in vain a few times, although no expletives are used in the book. The only act of classified violence occurs when an animal is shot to death. A little bit of gore surrounds a dead man discovered on the moor, although the details are rather limited. Compared to modern TV mysteries, the content issues in this book are trivial, and I would recommend this book for children ages 10 and up (The level of reading difficulty and the initial scariness of the mystery may make it inappropriate for younger readers).
If you’re looking for a good mystery, The Hound of the Baskervilles will surely quench your thirst for suspense. And for Sherlock Holmes fans, this is a must-read!