Many years ago Hugo Baskerville had committed an atrocious and deplorable sin for which he was aptly punished but the punishment did not stop there, a terrible curse was put on the Baskervilles which has plagued them for generations. A Hell hound, a beast that is so frightful that the mere act of looking at it causes unimaginable horror to its victims. Legend says that the beast is a bloodhound which can track its victim from one end of the moor to another, it is as big as a lion and as vicious as a pack of wolves, it has great big flaming eyes which can conjure the fires from hell itself.
A descendant of the Baskervilles, the amiable and benevolent Sir Charles Baskerville, takes up his abode at the Baskerville hall. He acts as a benefactor to the village people and makes a lot of friends in the community but always in the back of his mind are the moors and that hell hound. One fateful night Sir Charles ventures in the desolate moor and is found the next day, dead. His face contorted in a ghastly expression and his footprints on the moor suggest that he had been running from something, Nearby, Mortimer(a friend of Charles) discovers footprints of a gigantic hound!
After Sir Charles death, the whole estate is bequeathed to Sir Henry Baskerville, the last living descendant of the Baskervilles. The lone Baskerville decides to take up his residence in the same Baskerville hall and in the same moor. Mortimer has no choice but to approach Holmes for advice and protection. Holmes and Watson vow to protect their client from this curse and end this superstition, but as Watson and Holmes will soon find out legends can sometimes come true.
After reading the Father Brown mysteries, The Mystery of the Yellow Room, The Moonstone and few other Conan Doyle stories. I was beginning to be very cynical of the classics but The Hound of the Baskervilles has changed all that. The book is "unputdownable", it is one of those books that you do not want to finish.
I had watched the Jeremy Brett starer The Hound of Baskervilles many years ago and had a vague idea about the story but that did not stop me from absolutely enjoying this book. The moor which forms the background in the story is a character in itself and Conan Doyle treats it with meticulous attention and detail.
The Baskerville hall is shows as a lonely, haunting and giant abode, forget about people you will fall in love with the places in this book. I won't even start on the hound, that is something to be experienced while reading the book. Whenever the hound was talked about or made his appearance the reader can only hold his/her breath, The conclusion in the second last chapter has left an indelible impression on me.
The narrative is spell bounding, the reader never gets bored. The book is mixture of horror and suspense and is a masterpiece from Arthur Conan Doyle, I think it is the best from his cannon. The Characters of Henry, Mortimer, The Stapletons and The Barrymores are well done and are a testament of Conan Doyle's skills.
Holmes deductions in the first and final chapter are a treat for the logical mind, but the real hero of the piece is Dr. Watson, in this book Watson towers over all other characters including Holmes. Watson emerges out of the shadow of the inscrutable Holmes and we see Watson as a friend, a hero, a detective and a sound counsel.
The book is not a formula based 'whodunit" but a series of mysteries, which keep a mystery fan like me engaged from the start to the end. Some people often term this as an adventure and not a mystery book but I would like to humbly disagree and argue that the book has more mysteries than your normal run of the mill Golden age mystery.
Where can you get it? Its FREE! http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2852