THe Hound of the Baskervilles
Posted by: Gary Niebuhr
I am trying something completely different this year in my Crime and Mystery Book Discussion at the Greendale Public Library. This all started when my group got interested in me as an author because there is a sequel to Make Mine a Mystery coming out creatively called Make Mine a Mystery II. The pressure is on me as the discussion leader to prove to them that I actually know something about this genre.
So we discussed it and decided that the best way to do it would be to break our eight monthly meetings into a sub-genre of the field. We are going to do this by reading a benchmark classic in the sub-genre and then a contemporary take on this style. Yes, we are going to start with a mini-lecture and read two books each month. Yikes! I hope this works.
The first month is going to be spent looking at The Great Thinking Detective. For my benchmark classic in this sub-genre I selected The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. This is my favorite Sherlock Holmes story possibly because of the strong presence of Dr. Watson. In this novel, Watson is sent out onto the Grimpen Moor with a man destined to be murdered while Sherlock disappears on another case. The book is mostly made up of Watson’s notes to Sherlock and diary entries by the dear doctor. Ironically, I now realize that I picked for The Great Thinking Detective a Holmes novel where he appears the least. However, he does make a deus ex machina entrance and save the day at the end of the novel so it all works out.
I have a personal distinction between suspense and thriller which is basically a thriller affects me while suspense is what happens to the characters. One of the real strong things about Hound is that is still can make you care about the danger that these Victorian characters are in. The novel is filled with realistic and believable secondary characters who provide both the true villian and the red herrings.
The setting in this novel is also a strength. Doyle does a marvelous job of creating an atmospheric environment that only adds to the loneliness and desperation far before the fateful confrontation that takes place amongst the creepy fog.
The idea behind our book discussion night is that I will lecture very little, we will briefly talk about the benchmark book, and then launch into our real discussion which is going to be on A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch.
I will be back in a week or so to tell you how it all went.