SIR ARTHUR CONAN-DOYLE – THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES. 1901-1902 Penguin Classics.
This is the most famous and most frequently filmed Sherlock Holmes adventure. Holmes is called upon at Baker Street and asked to look into the mysterious deaths that have been occurring in a remote area of Dartmoor. Men have died and a terrifying red-eyed spectral hound has been seen and heard howling in the vicinity of the murders. The Baskeville family who dominate the area seem cursed. Holmes initially declines the invitation to go to Dartmoor, but he sends his faithful assistant Watson to investigate the case on his behalf. Watson quickly learns that the Baskervilles have neighbours who collect butterflies, and that a convict has escaped from a nearby prison and may be at loose on the moors. Watson naturally assumes that this fugitive must be the killer. Watson also sees the Great Grimpen Mire, a terrible Bog that few people know the safe paths over, and which are able to hold a man or a horse trapped for a week before the victim finally sinks to his death. Watson hears the Hound Of The Baskervilles, which terrifies him. He also finds a mysterious figure in a shelter of stones on the moors. He assumes that this is the wanted criminal, or the killer, but it turns out to be Holmes who has now arrived and who is conducting some enquiries in disguise. Holmes quickly establishes that the escaped prisoner is actually a member of the Baskeville family who are looking after him. The demon dog is actually a normal large dog painted with phosphorous to make it look ghostly and evil. The killers are the butterfly collectors, the female of who is caught, while her husband dies in the Great Grimpen Mire trying to escape. The story is a tremendously atmospheric horror story despite its lack of supernatural elements. The gothic fog shrouded moors and especially the bog are described with pitch perfect tension, It is not really a whodunit, as there are few suspects to choose from, but it remains one of the greatest detective stories ever told. http://www.sherlockian.net/
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