Saturday, November 22, 2014

"The Hound of the Baskervilles" by A. Conan Doyle (again)

Because I wrote a full review of this only last year (read it here), today I'm going to answer the questions I provided for the read-along link-up and say just a few other things.

Have you ever read any Sherlock Holmes stories before?

Yes.  I've read the entire canon, most of it twice, much of it many times.

Have you read this before?  If so, why did you decide to re-read it?

This is the first Sherlock Holmes story I ever read, back when I was 12 or 13.  Since then, I've probably read it five or six times, most recently in August of last year.  I decided to re-read it because I get in the mood to either read or watch it every autumn, and I thought it might make for a good read-along. 

At the end, Watson calls this adventure a "singular narrative, in which I have tried to make the reader share those dark fears and vague surmises which clouded our lives so long and ended in so tragic a manner."  Did he succeed in making you share them?

Even though I have read this so often, and watched adaptations of it equally as often, which have made me very familiar with the story and what will happen next... yes, the dark fears are still there.  The descriptions of the setting are so masterfully dismal and bleak, so evocative of the unknown that I get a thrill of pretend-fear just thinking about it.

Have you seen any film adaptations of this story?  If so, do you recommend any?

Yup.  I've seen the Granada version that stars Jeremy Brett probably more often than I've read the book.  (I reviewed it here back in December.)  It really matches my mental images for the book, and if you're looking for a solid, faithful adaptation, you can get it brand-new on DVD for about $10 online.

I've also seen the Sherlock episode that was inspired by this story, "The Hounds of Baskerville."  (I reviewed it here in January.)  Although I didn't love it, I thought it was amazingly well done, and lately I've been wanting to watch it again, now that I know how it all comes out.

What did you like best about The Hound of the Baskervilles?

I think I especially like how much Watson gets to do.  He's not just an observer, but an active participant in the investigation.  I also love the atmosphere, the cleverness of the antagonist, and the character of Sir Henry Baskerville.

Was there anything in the story you didn't care for, or think could have been done better?

I said here that I thought the last chapter had a bit too much recapping, but I've since decided that's probably just because I'm so familiar with the story, and if I had never read it before, or only once or twice, I would probably love Holmes' full explanation there.  So nope, wouldn't change a thing.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for suspense and scary images.

This is my 15th book read and reviewed for The Classics Club!


  1. Thanks again so much for hosting this, Hamlette! I can now officially say I have read an entire Sherlock Holmes. ;)

    I liked how much Watson had to do, too. Another thing I particularly liked was the almost mentor-type relationship between Holmes and Cartwright, which was pretty neat. :) I've listened to radio shows, but seeing this was the first one I actually's not common for Holmes to be trying to "set the villain up"---is it? I mean, he practically knows from the beginning who did it (versus deducing through the story) and is basically just concentrating on catching him red-handed.

    1. And thank you for participating! I'm glad you've read a whole Holmes at last :-)

      I do wish we got to see more of Holmes interacting with his Irregulars, like Cartwright and Billy (who's not in this one). I think it would tell us a lot about him, showing off parts of his personality that aren't apparent when he interacts with adults.

      I wouldn't say it's common for Holmes to be setting a villain up to obtain the proof he needs, but not uncommon either. I can think of instances where canon Holmes set up an adversary to get them to lead him to something vital or catch them red-handed, and also of times when he placed himself and Watson in pretty grave danger to catch a villain, so it's not really uncommon either. He does have a flair for the theatrical, and will choose the showy, flashy reveal over the quiet denoument with some regularity.

  2. Bit late, but I'll try to answer some of the questions.

    I've read the whole Holmes canon. I've seen two film adaptations, the 1939 with Basil Rathbone & Nigel Bruce which I like very much. I've also seen the 1959 one with Peter Cushing & Christoper Lee. It was a good adaptation but not one I'd go out of the way to see again. I just started watching the one with Jeremy Brett which I expect to enjoy.

    Taking the questions a bit out of order. I've reread the book numerous times. It's my favorite of the longer Holmes stories. In fact I haven't reread any of the other long stories and the only one I'm considering rereading is The Sign of Four.

    I think one of the best things about the story is the atmosphere. The moor is a spectacular place to set a story and adding in a supernatural element only makes it better.

    1. Let me know how you liked the Jeremy Brett when you finish it!

      I agree that this and "The Sign of Four" are the two best longer Holmes adventures. Both "A Study in Scarlet" and "Valley of Fear" get long-winded.

    2. In addition to being long-winded, A Study & Valley suffer from a decided lack of Holmes and Watson.

  3. I don't mind "Study", but I've never liked "Valley". We took the Peter Cushing DVDs out of the library and I had to make myself watch it ... (they have all four novels).

    As far as "Hound" goes, I love the scene where Watson sees the "man on the tor" (and doesn't realize it's Holmes, although as I got older, I was kinda like -- "why not?" (of course, the story wouldn't be the same if he did ...)

    1. Well, I've had it happen where I see someone I don't expect, totally out of their usual surroundings, and I don't recognize them until they speak to me. A shadowy figure far away, half-seen on a very stressful night? I can believe Watson doesn't recognize him.


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