The original The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of the most famous of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, a puzzling tale that appears to be about an ethereal demon dog that haunts the moors, frightening people literally to death. But is it? Is there really a dog, or is there something more mysterious and evil going on with Sir Charles Baskerville’s estate in Dartmoor, in the English countryside?
The heir brings Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson back to the family estate from London after sharing the historical tale of the evil man behind the curse. There is indeed a mystery afoot! But what is the mystery and who — or what — is behind the horrible death of Sir Charles on the moors? And what are we the reader to make of Holmes saying he’s too busy to travel and that Watson will be the detective on the scene, even as the younger Baskerville heir receives a clear death threat?
Martin Powell and Jamie Chase do a quite competent job of adapting this story to a graphic novel, but their sometimes rough sketches fail to do justice to some of the scenes and settings, though the use of a muted earth tone palette does help convey the dark, coolness of the moors. They also use the convention of handwritten commentary to convey Watson’s letters to Holmes and, unfortunately, they can be difficult to read, particularly when contrasted with the tight, clear lettering of the rest of the tale.
Nonetheless, the story of the Baskerville Estate on the moors is such a classic tale that even these issues don’t detract from the pleasure of reading this graphic novel, and it’s certainly a very good introduction to the classic Holmes canon for younger readers who might not want to read books that lack illustrations.