Book Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles cover

I hope that everyone is having a good week, regardless of how it has been spent.

There are some titles that I wished to get to, since the next installment of their respective series come out this month, though none of them are as high priority for me as Detective Conan, The Ancient Magus Bride, and A Certain Scientific Railgun, but because of the problems that eluded to in my last post, I decided to check out a public domain title from Project Gutenberg.

Today, I will be reviewing that book, which is called The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

A prominent person who lived in the countryside of England has died and people say that it is the curse of the family bloodline that has haunted them for generations, but a few people are doubtful, now that science is becoming more commonplace, and a doctor and the next heir of the estate go to ask Sherlock Holmes for advice.

However, when the heir to the estate receives a warning letter, Sherlock becomes a bit more interested and decides to unearth the truth behind the death of the heir’s uncle and prevent the death of the heir himself.

I cannot say that I liked this book too much.

While Sherlock Holmes, along with Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, did get me interested in the detective, mystery, and crime fiction genres, especially since I read the first two books and all but two short story compilations, only one of which is in public domain where I live, according to Project Gutenberg’s Detective Fiction page, and all of which are included in the anthology I own, written by Conan Doyle, revisiting the past is not always great, even if it was where I stopped.

Fortunately, unlike the last book that I reviewed, where finding anything likable was difficult to the point where I considering skipping it altogether, there were things to like about this book, so I do not need to skip right into it.

From the very first moment that I opened this book, I was drawn into the world of late 1800’s England and I did not want to stop reading for any reason, though I did have other things on my plate and have to satisfy the same needs that every human has.

One of the reasons that I did not feel so drawn into Lindsey Leavitt’s The Chapel Wars was because I could not create an image in my mind, aside from those moments that I did chuckle about, which is why I did not want to say that Lindsey’s writing abilities were the reason why I felt like laughing, especially because it was not.

However, even though it has been a while since I have read Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, I am glad that he at least seemed to know how to draw in an audience by creating some imagery and having a fairly interesting narrative while he was alive, even if A Study in Scarlet was a title that members of my church today might not be happy with the way the church is portrayed, since many have taken something from a verse from the Doctrine & Covanents, as found on the domain name of the main church website, out of context to the point where, as Alan Rock Waterman pointed out in a post from last month on Pure Mormonism, they believe that God has said that it is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased”, as opposed to a hope or wish, which I see it as upon reading it, while they have little to no problem with other faiths being shown in a negative light, and he has kept that up quite nicely.

This is what I hope to see from many works of fiction these days and is a big reason why I have been able to be drawn into quite a few works of fiction, even if it I did not enjoy it entirely.

Unfortunately, there are many writers, one of which included Lindsey Leavitt around the time that she wrote the only book I read from her, out there in the world of prose fiction that do not really get the importance imagery and a good narrative have in being able to draw in audiences and that really ruins the good reputation that prose fiction has among my peers and elders, who would rather that I move on from what interests me, and will likely hinder my ability to tell what a great story is like and what a terrible one is like that I have gained from those interests and my extensive reading.

After all, if you cannot create the images in your head, which prose fiction expects you to do, how can anybody really enjoy it?

Fortunately, Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing style does not come across that way and allows me to see how people of today could be so drawn Sherlock as they are, though many are more familiar with the more mainstream Sherlock than the one created by Doyle, just like how people where I live acknowledge Hannibal Lecter’s more cannibalistic side than the genius, which Gosho Aoyama notes that he is in Detective Conan Volume 19, that can function just fine in society, if he so chose, which I have noticed many people say is a fairly common attribute in each of the adaptations of Thomas Harris’s four-book series featuring his famous killer.

Seriously, if books written today were as great in this department as books that truly deserve being considered a classic, I might be more willing to give prose fiction a better chance, whereas, right now, I am kind of displeased because, like movies, many books these days seem to be made by people who do not know how to create good and believable stories.

I also liked how mysterious things felt.

While I cannot say that this books delivers everything that one expects from a story that truly does fit into all three genres of detective, mystery, and crime fiction, as opposed to automatically being called a mystery because it is a detective story, as brought up in Project Gutenberg’s Mystery Fiction page, which also gives a brief description of what hardboiled fiction is, since one person who read my review of Storm Front did not know what hardboiled fiction was, the thing that truly should be present is an air mystery.

This air mystery is what attract people like me and gives them a reason to what to beome involved in the case, and see if we can beat the detective to the punch, and all great works that can be called both a work of detective fiction and mystery fiction or, like many stories featuring Arsene Lupin, crime fiction and mystery fiction have this trait in them. Arthur Conan Doyle was one of the earliest known writers in the field of detective fiction and he seems to understand quite well, which makes me want to give him quite a bit of applause.

Outside of the world of anime, manga, and works from a few deceased writers, I am not too sure how well contemporary works in the fields of detective, mystery, and crime fiction measure up, but if they can deliver well in this aspect, then they would earn some nice credit from me for doing something right, even if they cannot deliver on a level that is as great as Agatha Christie’s or Gosho Aoyama’s best works.

For now, all I can do is hope that whoever decides to try and create a work in all or one of these three genres has read and study what made Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie such big names in the field, because they will not be considered great unless they can match or surpass those that came before.

The thing that I liked the most though was how well put together this book was.

Even though I have been familiar with Project Gutenberg for quite some time, most likely since my days in college, since I never knew about works in the public domain in my days in K-12, which was when I was naïve enough to unquestionably believe that the church that I belong to was what it claimed to be and did not understand human nature as well as I do now, though I am still nowhere near what could be considered an expert, the ebooks that they had did not seem to be that great because, like Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman’s Crusade for Free Software, which I regret buying when I could have downloaded it from Project Gutenberg for free, even though it is not in the public domain, I could not really jump to chapters so that I can continue reading where I left off.

However, with this title, the Table of Contents showed up properly regardless of which app I used to read and what device I was reading it on.

I am not sure what has happened over at Project Gutenberg since I last went through their catalog of titles, but this is vast improvement over having to rely on plain text files and are probably as easy to navigate as the ePub file that I can produce myself, since I know what an ePub file is at its most basic level and did research into how to put them together or a Mac or Linux machine with only built-in tools.

Fortunately, because of this, I have absolutely no problem telling people that these guys deserve the recognition that they do and encourage anyone living in countries with copyright terms as long as, or shorter than, the US to look through their catalog.

In fact, if I did not have to worry about the things that I have to today, I would have actually considered donating to them, since they understand readers and what they want better than many writers and publishers today, who think that DRM and images that can only be viewed in certain programs is necessary.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could stand out on its own.

Because my attention was held throughout most of the book, especially with a good amount of imagery and a good narrative, and that this book had the air of mystery that I expected, as well as the fact that this one of the best releases from Project Gutenberg that I have seen, this was a fairly decent book.

Although there were things that I liked about the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, only one thing really bothered me.

The culprit too obvious.

While I do not expect every mystery that crops up to be considered a whodunit, Sherlock stories, like those from Agatha Christie, are mainly considered whodunits, so the culprit should not be obvious, nor should their methods.

Unfortunately, even the greats of the greats mess up in this area.

Agatha Christie’s biggest travesties were found in Crooked House, where the culprit became obvious after a discussion of how criminals would act, and The Mysterious Affair at Styles, where my first guess ended up being correct.

Fans of the detective, mystery, and crime fiction might enjoy being able to figure out who was responsible before the detective and how it was done, but that joy never comes if things are obvious as they were in Detective Conan episode 6, where things were plain as day, even if one never watched the series before.

Those fans want to pick up on the clues themselves and piece things together, so that that can arrive at the answer and Arthur Conan Doyle did not deliver in this aspect like he did in the story Sherlock stories that I have read from him.

If this was the most propped up book in the Sherlock canon, I would have been severely disappointed with the entire Sherlock fandom, especially because there are some people that say that Sherlock was only temporarily brought back for this book because Doyle needed a detective, which I can only kind of confirm because The Hound of the Baskervilles was published in 1902 and took place before Sherlock’s confrontation with Professor Moriarty, while The Return of Sherlock Holmes was published in 1905 and took place after that said confrontation, both according to Baker Street Wiki.

Arthur Conan Doyle may have been as tired of writing about Sherlock as I am with displeasure that I hear from those close to me about how I should move on from what interests me and into more real entertainment than things that deliver what it does not, but that still does not mean that he could slack off in any department.

Unfortunately, he did slack off enough that I am not too sure that I would want to read the rest of the Sherlock stories that he wrote and I own.

Really? Financial difficulties are things that we all must deal with sometime, regardless of if we are in debt or not, and there are reports that Conan Doyle was in dire straits when he wrote this, but only the diehard fans of Sherlock are going to buy this up.

This is not what I was hoping for when I decided to read this, or even purchase the anthology that includes the only short story compilation that is not in the public domain where I live, and Doyle should have been ashamed when he penned this.

Fortunately, Arthur Conan Doyle did not do anything else to ruin things, which makes me pleased since it does not utterly ruin the image I had of Sherlock.

While there was only one thing that bothered me, it hurt the quality of the book enough that I am not too sure how Arthur Conan Doyle was able to turn his financial situation around.

Despite the fact that there were few things to like, the only negative aspect of this book made it feel like a waste of time.

I recommend that everyone avoid this book like the plague because it cannot deliver everything fans of detective, mystery, and crime fiction want, nor is it a good introduction to either of those genres, but if you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you are more than welcome to check it out at your own peril.

If you have read this book, what are your thoughts on The Hound of the Baskervilles? Please leave a comment and let everyone know why you liked it or hated it, especially if your reasons differ from mine or you disagree with me.

Also, if you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon, so that I can continue finding more worthwhile reads.

Copyright © 2017 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.