When he seemingly had his famous creation Sherlock Holmes, while grappling with archnemesis Professor Moriarty, sent down the Reichenbach Falls to his death at the end of his 1893 short story, "The Adventure of the Final Problem", Sir Arthur Conan Doyle received tremendous public pressure -even threats!- to revive the Great Detective.
Though Doyle would eventually and successfully revive Holmes in 1903's "The Adventure of the Empty House", the author had in the meantime devised the idea of disclosing a previously unrecorded case, set around 1889, before the events of "The Final Problem". That unchronicled exploit was The Hound of the Baskervilles, released in book form in 1902 after previously been serialized in the Strand magazine the year before.
Hound finds Holmes and his faithful companion Dr. Watson retained by a Dr. Mortimer to protect the last surviving member of the Baskervilles, Sir Henry, from the horrible curse of the aformentioned Hound that's terrorized his family for centuries (and which appears to have just claimed the life of Sir Henry's Uncle Charles). Citing other cases, Holmes begs off, but assigns Watson the task of accompaning (and acting as a bodyguard to) Sir Henry to Baskerville Hall in Dartmoor. There Watson observes various strange goings-on (the treacherous fog and the dangerous moor; the candle placed in the attic window after nightfall; the sound of a woman's sobbing; the possible wailing of a hound) and meets some of the locals, including the Barrymores (servants at the hall), who may be connected to a escaped convict named Selden; Jack Stapleton, a seemingly eccentric former schoolmaster, and his sister Beryl; and Laura Lyons, an abandoned wife who had become friends, despite public gossip, with Sir Charles. Things start to get complicated when Sir Henry falls for Beryl. Then Holmes suddently arrives (or so it seems), and the game really gets afoot!
A solid suspense thriller with some nice creepy Gothic touches, Hound never slackens in it's pacing. Doyle plays fair with the readers by subtly underplaying the clues Holmes and Watson discover in the mystery of what really killed Sir Charles and now may be after Sir Henry. Doyle's handling of the various characters is also quite good, with the best moments belonging to Watson, who, acting on his own for most of the book,comes off as intelligent and self-reliant when away from Holmes' shadow. And don't forget the atypical dark and foreboding atmosphere that permeates throughout the novel.