Really wanted the illustrations. I didn't realize that there were so many illustrations and that this book prints the stories in the original Strand magazine format. It's just like reading the original with numerous illustrations embedded inside the text. Totally superior to reading text only. Got this used for a few dollars and totally worth it. Recommend to anyone who want the full experience. But remember, not all the stories were illustrated and therefore some are missing form this book.
This review applies to the Kindle version of the book available from MysteriousPress.com/Otto Penzler editions.
There are a number of one-star reviews that some Kindle versions are missing any part of the text that was originally printed in a newspaper or letter format - or in the case of this novel, the manuscript that details the legend concerning Sir Hugo and the Hound of the Baskervilles.
I've doublechecked, and the MysteriousPress e-book does NOT appear to be missing any of these sections. The manuscript is definitely there, as are the few newspaper articles in chapter 4.
The story, of course, is classic Holmes at his best - disguises, uncovering clues, setting Watson on a task without giving him all the details, requiring the client to take some risks, and finding the villain. Well worth the read, and well-formatted.
I read this as a kid and the creepiness of the legendary hellhound made quite an impression. I decided to re-read it when I found out it was set in Devon, which has special associations for me. Fortunately, there is a lot of description of the Devon moors by Dr. Watson (a tad bit unrealistically, it must be admitted, in his letters to Holmes and in his diary) and it contributes to the brooding mood of the story.
The book is, of course, well-written, but what I noticed was that it's when Sherlock Holmes is present that the pages turn the fastest. Doyle does a terrific job of creating an unforgettable, quirky character through mostly dialogue. Holmes is often a bit of a buffoon, really, who can't let an opportunity go by to show his genius. At the end of the book, when he could have gracefully allowed Dr. Watson to take all the credit for having found out, entirely on his own, a vital piece of information, Holmes says: "This also you cleared up in a very effective way, though I had already come to the same conclusions from my own observations."
He has to drive it home that nothing escapes his brilliant investigative skills. As if Watson didn't already know that. What would it have hurt to have allowed Watson to think he had contributed something necessary? Somehow, despite this selfish boorishness, you still find Holmes endearing. Maybe that's because it hints at a chink in his armor, an underlying need to be seen as perfect in this area of his life. A hint of insecurity in such a "masterful" man, as Watson calls him, is appealing.
One part of the book made me laugh, and not in a good way. The escaped convict, a vicious and diabolical murderer--who Dr. Watson is at pains to point out is unrepentant and unredeemable and likely to commit more murders if he isn't apprehended--is allowed to go free for the sake of one weeping woman's feelings about what he'd been like as a child. But here's the truly awful part. He's only allowed to go free if he leaves England and takes his murderous ways to South America. Obviously, S.American lives cannot compare in value to English lives, so it makes perfect sense to send a murderer off to that distant land. What a happy outcome for all involved! They congratulate themselves on this intelligent solution.
Another thing that struck me as I read was how many of Agatha Christie's mysteries (particularly her Poirot stories) had elements taken from this one Doyle mystery. I began to understand why she was so modest about the success of her books and didn't like to be praised for them. I imagine she felt the credit often went to Doyle. Though, in fact, her own writing has stood the test of time so whatever she owed to him for plot points , she certainly deserved the credit for her own creations.
I would have given this classic five stars except for the two last paragraphs in the book, which undermined the whole mystery. When it comes right down to it, the murderer's basic design is hugely flawed. Dr. Watson points it out and Holmes admits he has no answer for it. He gives some possible, speculative solutions but none of them hold up very well. We're supposed to believe the murderer is one of the cleverest Holmes has ever come up against, but the very last paragraph reveals that he was incredibly shortsighted and frankly stupid.
All the same, it holds up well and is much more accessible to a modern audience than many classics. That's probably partly due to everyone's familiarity with Holmes, but it's also due to Doyle's clean and crisp writing. You won't regret giving it a read.
What a treat for Sherlock Holmes fans. Of course, I've read all of the stories and novels. Of course I already have the complete collection, and then some. This book is an amazing addition for fans.
First, the downside. This is a facsimile of the ORIGINAL Strand issues, which means that some pages have text that looks a bit faded, or light, as has been complained about by other reviewers. But I ask you, what did the typical print look like 126 years ago? Most readers picked up magazines that had "soft print" off the shelf. So, I guess it's not a downside after all.
To the most striking positive, this is Sherlock Holmes as was read in it's originality! This is as close to an actual copy as you will get. Next to my original 1907 edition of "Adventures, Memoirs, and Sign of Four" this is my second favorite collection of stories. (I admit, I would much rather read this copy, then risk turning the pages of my 110 year old book!
To read it in it's original magazine, double column format with artwork from Sidney Paget is simply a treat! It transports you to a simpler time on the back streets of London.
As a devoted fan and fellow Sherlock Holmes author, I cannot but praise it highly!
If you are buying this book to have the Sherlock Holmes stories that were printed in the "Strand," then this is a great buy at $8.00. However, if you are particularly interested in the illustrations by Sidney Paget (it's "Sidney," folks, Sydney Paget was also a Englishman, but not an illustrator), then you are probably in for disappointment if you've seen them before. The original illustrations look like they've been xeroxed on a 1980s copier with the contrast turned to maximum. The shadowy drawings have been reproduced as starkly black and white with little of the wonderful shading that characterizes the original artwork. In short, buy this book for a cheap collection of Doyle's work (although not a complete collection of Sherlock Holmes) to carry around and read for fun, but if you're trying to get it accompanied by Paget's artwork (which frankly has become the iconic portrayal of Holmes), look for another anthology.