Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Creepy Classic Review: The Hound of Baskervilles

This month’s Creepy Classic is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of Baskervilles. Originally published in 1902, this classic is best known for one of the most intriguing, and intelligent characters of all time, the infamous private detective on Baker Street, Sherlock Holmes. This novel, by no means, is in the paranormal genre but it definitely falls in the area of creepy.   The tale begins when Holmes and Watson are hired to investigate the legendary story of a mystical hound that haunts the Baskerville estate and its heirs.

The Baskerville name is synonymous with wealth, power and supernatural deaths. A friend of Baskerville descendants, Dr. Mortimer, seeks Holmes’s aid when his friend and neighbor, Sir Charles Baskerville dies suddenly. His perplexing death is suspicious and rumored to be linked to the haunting hound. From the beginning of this classic tale, Conan Doyle artfully constructs the first literary dynamic duo, Holmes and Watson, in a witty discussion about a clue from an unknown visitor who subsequently ends up being Dr. Mortimer. I only mention this because it’s an incredibly insightful illustration of the illustrious thinker, Holmes and his ever faithful companion, Watson.

Conan Doyle ingeniously writes with Watson as the narrator, allowing the reader to form a true fondness for the lovable character. As Conan Doyle toys with the reader, through the eyes of Watson, you evaluate every suspect, trying to deduce a motive and then identify the culprit. My favorite part of the book (midway through the story) is when another mysterious character is introduced. While Holmes is away in London, poor Watson is sent to Baskerville to begin the investigation. The dutiful sidekick uncovers a new player and stumbles upon his lodgings in a shack near the Tor. As Watson surveys the dwelling, noting all its contents, the reader feels his angst, fear and better yet, his determination. As he waits to confront the stranger, the unknown enters the room and says: “It’s a lovely evening, my dear Watson…I really think that you will be more comfortable outside than in.”

I actually figured out that it was Holmes about a few pages before (probably because of the items in the hut and the mysterious man’s description). But when I got to that part, I had a good chuckle. I found myself laughing several times at the dialogue between Watson and Holmes. They are truly perfect depictions of classic literary icons.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and all its mysteriousness and criminal authenticity. Its mystical conjecture about a hound was spooky. And perhaps today, if Sir Arthur was writing about a hound, they’d in fact be werewolves or true demonic dogs. Who knows?

On the Mina Burrows KilloMeter, this Creepy Classic (The Hound of Baskervilles) gets a 4.

Until next time….looking for something to read?…read a Creepy Classic.

Mina B.

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