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The Hound of the Baskervilles

by Arthur Conan Doyle
228 pages, Mystery
Reviewed by Jeanne

A chilling Sherlock Holmes mystery set on the moors.

Plot

For centuries there has been a legend in the Baskerville family concerning Hugo Baskerville, an evil man who was killed on the moor by a massive, demonic hound. That was in the 1600s. Now, in Victorian England, that great hound has returned to haunt the moor around Baskerville Hall. After the death of Sir Charles Baskerville, the discovery of a huge pawprint beside his body, and the arrival of the heir to the estate from America, it is up to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to discover the secret of the eerie Hound of the Baskervilles.

Morality

Holmes' mission is to combat evil, as he says himself, and such things as murder and greed are specifically addressed in this novel. Also, he is not as egotistical in this novel as in some of the other stories. A family harbors an escaped convict (understandably), and the ethics of this are called into question; however, he is not returned to the police.

Spiritual Content

There is some question as to whether the Hound is actually mortal, or is in fact a spiritual being. There is one reference to Satan (Holmes remarks, "In a modest way I have combated evil, but to take on the Father of Evil himself would, perhaps, be too ambitious a task."); Henry Baskerville, heir to the estates, is cautioned against going onto the moor at night, when "the powers of evil are exalted." Darwinian Evolutionism seems to be accepted, as there are a couple mentions of Neolithic man. God is mentioned once or twice.

Violence

The story of Hugo Baskerville's death is brutal. It is reported that Sir Charles Baskerville died of sheer fright, possibly after having sighted the Hound. The Grimpen Mire, on the moor, is a treacherous place where many animals have died; Watson witnesses a pony's demise in the swamp. The chilling cries of the Hound are quite eerily described. One man is said to have brutally murdered a family, but the details are not given. A character falls while running across the moor and dies rather bloodily; another character is attacked by the Hound. A woman shows bruises to reveal that she has been beaten. Bones are seen several times, including the skeleton of a pet dog.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Brandy is used to restore a man to his senses.

Sexual Content

The fact that a character is seeking a divorce from her husband is somewhat important. Henry Baskerville falls in love with his neighbor's sister - also a critical point in the story.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

Variations of "My God" are exclaimed here and there. "By thunder" is used by Henry Baskerville.

Conclusion

"The Hound of the Baskervilles," perhaps the most chilling Sherlock Holmes mystery, takes the usual suspense of Conan Doyle's stories to a higher level by placing this one on the lonely moors of northern England. The atmosphere and the legend of the great Hound combine to create a very creepy, fascinating mystery. Also, as Watson goes to Baskerville Hall without Holmes and so much of the tale is from his first-person perspective alone, the reader gets to see more of him in action. It is altogether an excellent novel of Sherlock Holmes - perhaps one of the best - and promises to be an enjoyable read for any mystery lover.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: adult

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