The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

This is the third full-length Sherlock Holmes novel, and the fifth book in the series when you count the short story collections. I’d argue that this is probably the most iconic one, and certainly the one that has had the biggest impact on popular culture. For me, as a big Holmes fan, it’s an absolute joy to read.

For those unfamiliar with the premise, it has Holmes and Watson called in to investigate a murder that was seemingly caused by a spectral hound, said to haunt a certain family. Set out in the cold dark moors, everything seems to indicate that this was a genuine supernatural encounter – though, of course, Holmes remains sceptical.

The idea of the rationally-minded person coming against things that seem to be beyond this world is one that so many stories have revisited in the many years since this novel’s original publication. I’m pretty sure that this was the first time that this trope was used, and if not, it was certainly the instance which propelled it forward in the general consciousness. Those who love literary history are sure to get a lot out of this.

I think one of the book’s biggest strengths is its atmosphere and tone. The barren feeling out in the moors is described perfectly, capturing that beautiful classic gothic novel vibe. It’s one of those books that’s perfect to curl up with late at night – partially because it’s genuinely quite creepy. Horror isn’t generally an aspect of the Sherlock Holmes stories, but when they try and be eerie, they do a fantastic job and this is a perfect example of that.

While Watson’s role in Sherlock Holmes stories can sometimes feel a little insignificant (with him mostly just relaying what Holmes does), this is one of the stories that uses him really well. Holmes is actually absent for quite a long time, leaving Watson to investigate on his own for a bit, and this is pretty great. I love Holmes, but I appreciate Watson getting the chance to play centre stage, and the aspect of Holmes being absent is actually a really interesting and important part of the plot.

Altogether, it’s one of my favourite Sherlock Holmes stories, and as the novels go, it’s certainly aged better than The Sign of Four. Even if you’ve never read another Sherlock Holmes story, you’d be able to enjoy this one, so I recommend it to all fans of Sherlock Holmes and classic novels.

Rating: 9.2/10

Buy it here.

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