52 Books 2014: Week 45

The Hound of the Baskervilles (and The Adventure of the Dancing Man)
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
narrated by Simon Prebble
(classic fiction, mystery)

I am a fan of Sherlock Holmes stories, to be sure, though not (probably) a rabid one. I have seen the first of the Robert Downey Jr. Holmes movies, and every episode released to date of the BBC show “Sherlock”. I have read many of the classic tales. (I have not seen the older movies, the second of the new movies, or the American show “Elementary,” though I am curious to sample at least the show and the newest movie.) But even so, I still enjoy new ways of enjoying the stories.

My first experience with THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, I think, was a child’s version of the story. I had this set of books, printed in small format (maybe half to two-thirds the height of a traditional paperback?) that had easy-to-access versions of a lot of classic stories. (I remember reading about the Swiss Family Robinson in this series, for one, but my recollections of which other stories there were is now fuzzy.) I’m pretty sure this story was one of those books. In any case, I remember THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES from a very young age, and every time I re-visit it I remember certain things and forget others. Then main thing I remember is the image of the hound itself, and the way Holmes appears part-way through the story. The rest is the part that gets fuzzy. This is not a bad thing, as it means I can be surprised right along with new readers when I re-read it.

I am not going to go into the story itself. Either you know what happens, or you don’t – and if you don’t, I’m not going to spoil the experience for you, because this is a classic book that everyone should read for herself. If you haven’t read THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, get thee to a library (or bookstore) and find a copy. What I will go into is how refreshing the pacing is. Don’t get me wrong – in general I prefer the faster pace and character-focus of the modern novels I read. But sometimes it’s nice to read a slower-paced story. This is one of those, but in the classic style, and it manages to be slow and thoughtful without being boring.

The narrator (Simon Prebble) took a little getting used to for me. At the start, his character voices didn’t seem distinct enough. However, within the first hour or so, I found I no longer had that problem, and I was able to separate his voices much better. He seemed to have the perfect tone for Watson especially, which is good, since Watson is the narrator of the Sherlock Holmes stories.

And then I got a surprise when I discovered that THE ADVENTURE OF THE DANCING MAN was also included in the audiobook. I don’t know if I have ever read this particular story before, though I may have since I’ve read many Holmes stories over the years. In any case, I didn’t remember anything about this story, and thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. I think this one may have suffered from being in audio format, since there were no illustrations of the dancing figures (I did a quick Google search to confirm the title, and several images of the figures popped up) such as may appear in a print version. However, it was still great fun to listen to, and it seems I can easily find the illustrations online later if I want to.

All told, this was a great audiobook to be listening to right around Halloween and has sparked my interest in picking up more Holmes stories – audio or otherwise. These tales do stand the test of time.

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