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The Hound of the Baskervilles

By: Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle thought he had finished forever with his immortal sleuth Sherlock Holmes and his chronicler, Dr Watson. Exhausted and bored with the Holmes saga, he wanted to turn to more serious writing. In the short story The Final Problem, published in 1893 as part of the collection The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, the author had sent Holmes plunging to his doom into the Reichenbach Falls. However, by 1901, Doyle found himself in severe financial difficulties. It was then that he resurrected his popular detective. The Hound of the Baskervilles is set in time before the Reichenbach and as the publishers had predicted, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once again struck gold! The Hound of the Baskervilles is thrilling, tightly-plotted and full of atmosphere. Set in the misty and sinister landscape of Dartmoor, it was inspired by the true story of a wicked 17th century Squire who lived in the West Country. Tales of the man's villainous ways were whispered about and when he finally died, his evil spirit continued to roam the moors, leading a pack of supernatural hounds who were often seen at his tomb! In the novel, Sir James Mortimer, a physician and friend of the Baskervilles, a noble country family consults Holmes in London and seeks his help. Sir Charles Baskerville, the owner of a mansion called Baskerville Hall has been found dead under mysterious circumstances, which lead Sir James to fear that he was the victim of a strange and fatal family curse. A remote ancestor, notorious for his debauched ways, had been violently killed by a hell-hound with supernatural powers. People in the neighboring village report having seen an enormous hound on the moors at night. Mortimer now fears that Sir Charles has been visited by this terrible creature whose mission is to destroy the Baskerville family. The heir to the estate, Sir Henry Baskerville, is on his way home from Canada to claim his inheritance. Mortimer is apprehensive that Sir Henry will be the next target of this terrible creature. Holmes and Watson set out for Baskerville Hall. As he remarks, “The game's afoot!” The Hound of the Baskervilles is a masterpiece of chilling detective fiction. It has been extensively adapted for radio, film and television all over the world. The story has lent its name to a psycho-medical condition called the Baskerville Effect – heart ailments caused by psychological stress! In all, a great read for that cold and rainy night!

Dr James Mortimer calls on Sherlock Holmes in London for advice after his friend Sir Charles Baskerville was found dead in the yew alley of his manor on Dartmoor in Devon. The death was attributed to a heart attack, but according to Mortimer, Sir Charles's face retained an expression of horror, and not far from the corpse the footprints of a gigantic hound were clearly visible. According to an old legend, a curse runs in the Baskerville family since the time of the English Civil War, when a Hugo Baskerville abducted and caused the death of a maiden on the moor, only to be killed in turn by a huge demonic hound. Allegedly the same creature has been haunting the manor ever since, causing the premature death of many Baskerville heirs. Sir Charles believed in the plague of the hound and so does Mortimer, who now fears for the next in line, Sir Henry Baskerville.

Even though he dismisses the curse story as nonsense, Holmes agrees to meet Sir Henry in London as soon as Sir Henry arrives from Canada, where he has been living. He is a young and jovial good-looking fellow, sceptical toward the grim legend and eager to take possession of Baskerville Hall, even though he has just found an anonymous note in the mail warning him to stay away from the moor. When someone shadows Sir Henry while he is walking down a street, however, Holmes asks Watson to go with the young man and Mortimer to Dartmoor, in order to protect Sir Henry and search for any clues about who is menacing his life.

The trio arrives at Baskerville Hall, an old and imposing manor in the middle of a vast park, managed by a butler and his wife the housekeeper. The estate is surrounded by the moor and borders the Grimpen Mire, where animals and humans can sink to death in quicksand. The news that a convict named Selden, a murderer, has escaped from the nearby Dartmoor Prison and is hiding in the nearby hills adds to the barren landscape and the gloomy atmosphere.

Book Details

Language

English

Original Language

English

Published In

1902

Author

Arthur Conan Doyle

United Kingdom

He was a British writer and physician. He created the character Sherlock Holmes in 1887 for A Study in Scarlet, the first of four novels and fifty-six short stories about Holmes and Dr. Watson. The Sh...

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