When a visitor leaves a walking stick behind, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson ponder on who their unseen caller might be. As usual, Holmes is able to describe the visitor in great detail, remarking on the man’s profession, his pet dog, his age, poor memory and even where he might live and work. When the owner of the stick returns to collect it, Holmes is of course proved correct. The man introduces himself as Dr Mortimer and confirms that he recently moved from a post in a London hospital to one in Devonshire. His new post however, has brought him into contact with an ancient family curse, detailing a gruesome and murderous legend.
Sherlock Holmes is initially not impressed and waves Doctor Mortimer’s tale aside as only being of interest to “a collector of fairytales”. However, his interest grows when Mortimer reveals details of the recent death at Baskerville Hall of its owner, Sir Charles Baskerville. Mortimer is convinced that the Baronet’s death cannot be due to natural causes and mentions the footprints found near the dead man’s body. Holmes is still not convinced, until Mortimer utters those immortal words:
“Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound.”
If Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing career had gone the way he expected, we might never have heard of ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’. Doyle wanted to leave his famous detective behind and move on to other novels (such as the Professor Challenger series), but the popularity of Sherlock Holmes got the better of him. The ‘death’ of the great detective at the hands of the evil Professor Moriarty (under the magnificent backdrop of the Reichenbach Falls), was a step too far for Holmes’ fans and Doyle eventually succumbed to public opinion. Finding a way to reinstate his illustrious hero however, took a little longer – Holmes eventually returned in ‘The Adventure of the Empty House’. In the meantime Doyle penned one of his most thrilling tales. Set before the events in ‘The Final Problem’ Doyle pits his hero against an unusual foe.
This classic tale of murder, mystery and spectral hounds on the sinister and ominous moors will keep you reading till its thrilling climax.