The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sherlock Holmes #5) by Arthur Conan Doyle: Suspenseful Crime Fiction Classic

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Rating: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed Star

Category: Crime Fiction, Classics, Mystery/Adventure

Synopsis: Sir Charles Baskerville confesses to a close friend that he feels haunted by his family history. According to legend, his cruel ancestor Hugo Baskerville received recompense in the form of a hell-hound set loose on the moors to hunt him down.

A few days later, Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead in his garden at the edge of the moor. There is only one detective who can separate fact from folklore in this case: his name is Sherlock Holmes.

Review:

First Page Impressions

I am taking a Crime Fiction module for my English Literature degree this year (which is very exciting!) and this book was on my required reading list. Having said that, Arthur Conan Doyle has created a real cultural legacy and I have always wanted to discover the source of the infamous Sherlock Holmes!

The full significance of Conan Doyle’s crime-busting creation became apparent as I read. It was fascinating to trace elements that remain core tropes in detective fiction to this day…

The Hound of the Baskervilles Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle Book Review Pinterest Graphic

Final Page Reflections

I usually expect university reading to be a bit of a slog, but The Hound of the Baskervilles was fast-paced and genuinely unpredictable. I needed to annotate throughout, yet the gripping plot still kept its hold on me despite the extra academic distance!

“There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you.”

My overall impression after turning the last page was one of satisfaction and closure. Good and evil are clearly defined, all the loose ends tie-up neatly, every one walks off into the sunset (well, not quite…) It is not intended to provoke much contemplation between turning the last page and picking up the next instalment in the series.

Nevertheless, my inner book-reviewer refused to acquiesce…

Mood

The Hound of the Baskervilles Mood Board

Diversity and Representation

When a novel was first published in 1902, we have learnt the hard way to expect limited diversity. While the main characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are given more complex character development, there are barely any women in the story at all.

Those that are present fail to make a positive contribution to the case. They’re easily manipulated and just a bit… well, pathetic. This made it difficult to identify with any of the characters: The Hound of The Baskervilles is definitely a plot-centric story.

The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sherlock Holmes 5) by Arthur Conan Doyle Quote
Fund Literacy, Care for the Environment

Themes

  • Supernatural
  • Genius
  • Family and inheritance
  • Gender roles
  • Class
  • Nature and its perception by humans

Beyond the Book

Conan Doyle is playful with the divide between fact and fiction. His novel is presented through a variety of documents such as diary entries and letters to create an impression of authenticity. With this immersive structure, it is impossible not to start drawing real-life parallels.

Why does a detective character over a century old still maintain such cultural significance? The element of idealism in these stories makes for perfect escapism. The divide between good and evil is unambiguous and we are comfortably certain that the former will triumph in the end. If only reality were that simple.

“The devil’s agents may be of flesh and blood, may they not?”

I was also intrigued by the ethical dilemmas presented, as pursuing the killer inevitably puts other innocent people at risk. Sherlock Holmes is, of course, rather gung-ho about all this, but it made me consider how such moral judgements are made in real-life crime-fighting.

Continued Contemplation

  1. The bleak setting of the moors is at the core of this novel and creates a pervading atmosphere of foreboding. Do you think that the tension between humanity and the natural world contributes to the story’s threat?
  2. Sherlock Holmes is something of a ‘lone wolf’ detective. He is a genius of superior quality, who has little need for teamwork to solve his cases. Is it possible for this individual hero ideal to be harmful when tackling real-life crime?
  3. The Hound of the Baskervilles was originally serialised in a magazine before its publication in novel form. If you were to divide it for serialisation, how would you go about this? Does this affect your reading of the story?

Favourite quote:

“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.” 

Read if: You want to discover the origins of the infamous detective in a suspenseful crime fiction classic.

Buy Now on Better World Books:

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If you enjoyed The Hound of the Baskervilles, you may also like The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.


Have you read The Hound of the Baskervilles or any other Sherlock Holmes stories? Do you think crime fiction can influence how society tackles crime in real life? Let me know in the comments – I would love to hear from you!


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10 thoughts on “The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sherlock Holmes #5) by Arthur Conan Doyle: Suspenseful Crime Fiction Classic

  1. OMG! This the third time someone has talked about Holmes one way or another this week and I don’t know why lol but I’m here for it! I saw the HOB movie when I was like 5? Maybe 7? And absolutely loved it! It was fantastic to read your review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’m so excited for it! I’m quite lucky to go to a pretty non-traditional uni where they encourage us to embrace reading outside the standard ‘classics’. That’s amazing that you did English Lit as well, it’s the best degree ever (not that I’m biased!) Thank you so much for your kind words, you’ve made my day ❤️ X x x

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  2. I’ve been hearing a lot of things about this book. I never read anything by Conan Doyle since detective stories are really not my thing… If I were to give it a try, which story do you think I should begin with? Since this is fast paced, should I start with it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! To be completely honest, this was my first Conan Doyle book too, so I’m not sure how it compares to the others. But it’s definitely fast paced and it’s fun to guess ‘whodunnit’ (though I’ll be surprised if you can!!!) I highly recommend it X x x

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    1. Thank you for the kind comment Beck, I really appreciate it! I’ve been writing on this book for an essay too, but the story is so entertaining that it doesn’t feel like a chore. I’ve never seen the TV series though, but your recommendation has made me want to have a look! X x x

      Liked by 1 person

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