A chilling mystery. Again and again I've read this and my appreciation continues to grow. Now that I've read the Holmes stories written before 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' I can really see how far Doyle came as an artist. Doyle gives Watson free reign in his descriptive language of the Devonshire moor in October:
“To his eyes all seemed beautiful, but to me a tinge of melancholy lay upon the countryside, which bore so clearly the mark of the waning year, Yellow leaves carpeted the lanes and fluttered down upon us as we passed, The rattle of our wheels died away as we drove through drifts of rotting vegetation--sad gifts, as it seemed to me, for Nature to throw before the carriage of the returning heir of the Baskervilles.”
Most of you know the plot - after the mysterious death of the benevolent master of a remote country estate, Holmes is enlisted to solve the mystery of a two hundred year old curse and save the life (and mind) of the young heir to Baskerville Hall. Watson must go ahead alone to investigate. The prose is beautiful and yet it continues to remind the reader at every turn that all is not well here. Watson has taken Holmes' lessons of cold rationalism to heart, but must go head to head with the Gothic literary tradition here, complete with brooding ancestral estates, unexplained crying in the night, candles pressed against cold windows and a treacherous landscape. Holmes himself may not fall prey to the atmosphere, but few others escape unscathed.
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