Book Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I’m probably one of the last people to read or know the story of The Hound of the Baskervilles, which has also been adapted for film and television many times. It’s also the only Sherlock Holmes novel or short story I’ve read and I enjoyed it very much.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote four crime novels and many short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles is the most famous and widely considered his best. The novel first appeared in 1901 in The Strand Magazine in serialized format and was printed as a novel in 1902.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is a story of murder, greed and deception. Set on Dartmoor in Devon, England, it’s centered on the legend of a fierce and supernatural hound that preys on members of the Baskerville family and caused the death of Hugo Baskerville. The story begins years later, when Sir Charles Baskerville dies outside his mansion with an expression of grotesque terror on his face. Nearby otherworldly footprints suggest the hound was in the vicinity.

Sir Henry Baskerville, the next of kin, is called to take over the estate. Sir Charles’s friend, Dr. James Mortimer, notifies Holmes and soon the detective and his assistant, Watson begin to investigate Charles’s death. Meanwhile Sir Henry receives a mysterious letter warning him to stay away and it seems that someone is following Sir Henry. For Sir Henry’s protection and to keep attention away from the investigation, Holmes decides that only Watson should go to Baskerville Hall and report to Holmes by letter everything he sees. On arrival, they learn that a convicted murderer has escaped the nearby prison and is on the loose on the moor.

The story is narrated by Watson and includes letters to Holmes, journal entries as well as the original manuscript explaining the legend and how Hugo met his death. Watson details his impression of the Barrymores, the butler and housekeeper at Baskerville Hall, as well as the Stapletons, Mr. Frankland and other neighbors on the moor. He also tells of strange moans and cries coming from the moor and details the moor’s intimidating landscape.

More than one of these characters has something to hide and Watson soon eyes a second figure on the moor. He’s close to uncovering important details but will need Holmes’s expertise to solve the mystery. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll leave the rest of the plot out, in case you also have never read this story.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the story is the actual setting on Dartmoor, which dates back to the Bronze Age and retains many of the stone structures built during prehistoric times. This area is now a national park. You can learn more about it here.

I’m likely to read more Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Do you have a favorite?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

57 thoughts on “Book Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  1. I’ve read most of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and I like most of them, but there’s no question “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is the crowning achievement. Great review.

      1. We all have favourite authors and I’m a great fan of Victorian literature. You’ve probably read lots of books I still have to read 🙂

      2. Same back at you 😀- I majored in English in college, but there are many classics I have not read. (I have read Jane Eyre twice though 😉 )

  2. I haven’t read any of these either, which seems like a shame. I do remember the BBC Sherlock episode, which was crazy scary. 🙂 I wonder if it followed the book well.

    1. Hi Jill. I’d never read any of the books, and I haven’t watched any of the shows! Eeek – I’m so behind! Thanks for stopping by – love your new cover, by the way! You are the best!

    1. Hi Lynette. Thanks for stopping by. It’s a pretty short one for a book – about 170 pages. I read it for my library job – our mystery book club is discussing it in a couple weeks. Hope you are doing well!

  3. This is an oldie but a goodie. I’ve noticed that British TV makes the most of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s brainchild via crime dramas on PBS and in the Masterpiece series.

    Thanks for the review, Barbara!

  4. It’s a great and haunting story, and I think possibly the only Sherlock Holmes story I’ve read. But it was a long time ago. I remember looking up the word “moor” in the dictionary because at the time, I’d never heard it before. Excellent review, Barb–I think I’ll revisit this one!

    1. Hi Mary – I also went through a period of time when I had no idea what a moor was, but I’ve read a lot of books since that include them. Of course I never thought to look it up – you were way ahead of me! I think you’ve given me an idea for a future post – books when the moor is a character! Thanks for stopping by – I hope you are doing well 🙂

  5. I thoroughly loved reading this. I’d bought myself a gorgeous copy which contained all the Sherlock Holmes stories and devoured them a few years ago. Your post made me smile because I loved to remember that. Thanks so much Book Club Mom x

    1. Hi there Books and Bakes – I think I remember you talking about them. I think I’d like to see those stone huts on Dartmoor. Have you ever been? Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

      1. I’ve never been no, but I’d like to as well. I’ve made a promise that as soon as this is over, I’m going everywhere and exploring different things! Hope you’re ok! X

  6. I think I’ve read all the Sherlock Holmes stories at one time or another, but Hound of the Baskervilles is the one that sticks out over and above the others. If memory serves me correctly, this is the novel that saw Holmes return after he’d apparently been killed by Moriarty. From what I can gather, Conan Doyle didn’t want to write any more, so decided to get rid of him, but the uproar from fans was such that he brought him back. Not that he ever explains how Holmes survived. He just carried on as if nothing had happened. But it makes you realise that, if he’d stuck to the plan of killing him off, we’d never have had this classic.

    1. Hi Graeme – I read that too. Although this book marks Holmes’s return, I think this story occurs before the story when he is killed off. I’m not entirely sure, though. I’m going to have to look it up. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you are doing well 🙂

    1. Hi Lisa – it’s the only one I’ve read, but it’s supposed to be the best one. I’d recommend it – it’s also a fast read (under 200 pages) and pretty easy to follow. I hope you enjoy it if you get the time to read it. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I enjoyed this one, but haven’t read much else. On his last pre-Covid visit I gave my grandson who lives in Australia the choice of books in my library to take home with him. He chose the Conan Doyle sets, so I guess I’ll never read them now. He also chose The Iliad and The Odyssey – but I’d already read them 🙂

      1. Vaccinated and ready to travel later this spring! Can’t wait to get out! How about you? Do look up the old movie with Basil Rathbone as Homes. It’s in black and white and a classic!

      2. Hi Noelle – that’s great! Still waiting for the vaccine in Pennsylvania. The roll-out has been slow, but maybe by the summer. Thank you for recommending the Rathbone movie. I’m going to look for it at the library when I go in on Tuesday. I hope you enjoy your travel this spring! 🙂

  8. I haven’t read this, Barb, but you’ve piqued my interest with your great review. It’s interesting to read that the book is scary, when usually the movie is more so because of the visual element. I’ll have to read in daylight. 🙂

  9. I never read any Sherlock Holmes books! For years I thought I didn’t like mysteries. Now I love mysteries so you’re making me want to read at least one of these. And it sounds like it should be The Hound!

    1. I never read mysteries until I started running the mystery book club at work. Another really good one is The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. But I’d go for the Hound first because it’s a short and easy read. Thanks for stopping by, Pam. Hope you are doing well 🙂

  10. I have never read Sherlock Holmes, Barbara. I was never interested for some reason. The dog sounds like its based on the black shuck legends. My son loved these books. He went through a big Sherlock Holmes phase.

    1. This is the only book I’ve read by Doyle. I had never been interested in Sherlock Holmes either, but my mystery reading group at work picked it. I’m glad I read it – it’s very good and it helps me better understand classic mysteries. That and The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins were good choices. Thanks for stopping by, Robbie.

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