Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Hound of the Baskervilles

I'm a bad mystery fan.  I've read very few of the Sherlock Holmes stories.  I don't think it's been a conscious decision, although I found The Hound of the Baskervilles more creepy than compelling when I read it in 8th grade English, but I don't remember being particularly enthralled by the few stories I read in a college class on mystery fiction either.  I have been impressed with Sherlock, though (and not just because of Benedict Cumberbatch's cheekbones, fantastic though they may be), so when my classic literature group chose The Hound of the Baskervilles, I was ready to give it another chance.

Arthur Conan Doyle became bored with Sherlock Holmes and famously killed him off in "The Final Problem."  A decade later, in response to public desire and probably financial considerations, he brought him back.  The Hound of the Baskervilles was Holmes first novel after his return and Doyle, apparently still bored with his creation, sends him off to hide in a cave for most of the investigation.  As for the rest of the story...well, I enjoyed it more than when I was 13, but not by much.  The plot is a bit contrived; I'm not fond of Victorian prose; and when Holmes explains how he solved the mystery, I felt that Doyle held back some of the information needed for the audience to reach those conclusions.  I'd much rather watch "The Baskerville Hounds" - the early scene where a nicotine-withdrawing Sherlock orders a witness to blow smoke in his face alone is more entertaining than the original source.

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