As stated in the previous blog post, I took up the R.I.P. challenge (R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril) - The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle was first. A legendary curse has claimed one more victim. Sherlock Holmes is called in to examine.
Sir Henry Baskerville is the heir of his late Uncle Charles' Estate in Dartmoor. Sir Charles Baskerville is dead with no signs of violence; notwithstanding the terrified face displayed on his lifeless body. Dr. James Mortimer, the uncle's personal physician comes to Holmes to ask for assistance. Local legend is that Sir Charles was killed by a ghostly hound that haunts the moor to avenge the sins of one of the Baskerville ancestors. That ancestor was Hugo Baskerville, and the rumor is that a hideous and devilish hound-like beast had torn out the throat of Hugo many years before. Mortimer confides to Holmes that he found a hound’s footprint at the scene of Charles death. Has the ghostly demon attacked again? More importantly, is Sir Henry Baskerville now in imminent danger?
Intrigued, Holmes takes the case, and it becomes more interesting when Holmes spots a man following them in London and someone steals one of Sir Henry’s boots. Surprisingly, Holmes doesn’t go to Dartmoor, instead he sends Watson to investigate and report his findings. Watson indeed finds strange occurrences: suspicious-acting servants, a dangerous convict loose on the moor, and of course, the legend of the hound.
Doyle marvelously manages all of the intricate relationships in this story. I especially enjoyed the dynamics of the partnership between Holmes and Watson. I was ceaselessly amused by the two detective's dialogue and their quirky interactions. The characters of Holmes and Watson are truly iconic in this tale. The creepy plot was also brilliant and the atmosphere was quite suspenseful. It may be my favorite of the Sherlock Holmes stories. I'll leave you with a few memorable quotes.
"The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes." (p. 31)
"The devil’s agents may be of flesh and blood, may they not?" (p. 32)
"The setting is a worthy one, if the devil did desire to have a hand in the affairs of men." (p. 32)
"There's a light in a woman's eyes that speaks louder than words." (p. 94)
"Evil indeed is the man who has not one woman to mourn him." (p. 143)
Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle
22 May 1859 - 7 July 1930
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
“It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.”
–C.S. Lewis, “Introduction” in St. Athanasius, De Incarnatione Verbi Dei (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1944/1993),