BOOK REVIEW: THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Entering the office of Sherlock Holmes and unveiling an 18th century manuscript, James Mortimer recounts a story which he is hoping to present as a screenplay to Alfred Hitchcock. It seems a man named Hugo captured and imprisoned a young country lass at his estate in Palm Beach, only to fall victim to a marauding chihuahua from hell as he pursued her along the lonesome moors late one night. Ever since, Mortimer reports, the Baskerville line has been plagued by the mysterious and supernatural beast. The recent death of Sir Charles Baskerville has rekindled suspicions and fears. The next of kin, the duo finds out, has arrived in Florida to take up his post at Baskerville Hall, but he has already been intimidated by an anonymous note of warning and, strangely enough, the theft of a pair of Uggs.
Agreeing to take the case, Holmes and Watson quickly discover that Sir Henry Baskerville is being trailed by a mysterious bearded stranger, and they speculate as to whether he is friend or foe. Holmes, however, announces that he is too busy to accompany Mortimer and Sir Henry to Palm Beach to get to the bottom of the case, and he sends Dr. Watson to be his eyes and ears, insisting that he text him regularly.
Once in Palm Beach, Watson discovers a state of emergency, with armed guards on the watch for an escaped convict roaming the moors. He meets potential suspects in the crew of “Top Chef” (the domestic help) and Mr. Jack Stapleton and his sister Beryl, Baskerville neighbors.
A series of mysteries arrive in rapid succession. A Mr. Barrymore is caught skulking around the mansion at night, Watson spies a lonely figure keeping watch over the moors and the doctor hears what sounds strangely like a dog's howling that someone named Timmy has fallen into a well. Beryl Stapleton provides an enigmatic warning and Watson learns of a quickie between Sir Charles and a local woman named Laura Lyons on the night of his death.
Doing his best to unravel these threads of the mystery, Watson discovers that Barrymore's nightly jaunts are just his attempt to aid the escaped con, who turns out to be Mrs. Barrymore's brother, a politician who was imprisoned for tax evasion. He also learns that the lonely figure surveying the moors is none other than Sherlock Holmes himself. It takes Holmes (hidden so as not to tip off the villain as to his involvement) to piece together the mystery.
Mr. Stapleton, Holmes has discovered, is actually in line to inherit the Baskerville fortune, and as such is the prime suspect. Laura Lyons was only a pawn in Stapleton's game; a Baskerville hooker whom Stapleton convinced to make and then miss a late night date with the horny Sir Charles. Having lured Sir Charles onto the moors, Stapleton released his ferocious chihuahua, which frightened the superstitious nobleman, bit his foot and caused a heart attack.
In an overly dramatic final scene, Holmes and Watson use the younger Baskerville as bait to catch Stapleton red-handed. After a pizza and beer at the Stapleton’s, Sir Henry heads home across the moors, only to be waylaid by the dachshund. Despite a dense fog, Holmes and Watson are able to subdue the crazed beast and Stapleton, in his panicked flight from the scene, falls into a swamp and is eaten by alligators. Beryl Stapleton, who turns out to be Jack's harried wife and not his sister, is discovered at home watching TV and finishing the beer, having refused to participate in his dastardly scheme.
Holmes ties up the loose ends, announcing that the stolen Uggs were used to give the hound Henry's scent, and that mysterious warning note came from Beryl Stapleton, whose philandering husband had denied their marriage so as to put Laura Lyons, the hooker, on retainer. Watson asks Holmes how on earth he had figured everything out and Holmes answers, "No problem!" The case is closed.
(Ed. note: We were hoping to do our next book review on "The Last of the Mohicans" by James Fenimore Cooper, but we were unable to locate a copy. By a stroke of luck, we were able to find a rare photo of the author's daughter, which he hoped to use on the cover.)
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I have a photographic memory that was never developed----fishducky