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Philip K. Jones reviews Mark of the Baskerville Hound by Wilfred Huettel

25 Oct

“This author is new to Sherlockian fiction, with his only previous book a history of U-Boat warfare in the Gulf of Mexico.  For a first effort at Sherlockian fiction, or any fiction, for that matter, this book is remarkable.  The events recounted take place in the 1980s and the story is hard to define.  It is a mystery and a horror story and a romance, all combined.  It has supernatural elements if one chooses to read it that way, yet it is also intimately involved in psychology and, of all things, Theology.  Perhaps I can explain my viewpoint best by recalling a lesson in Theology passed to me long ago.  “The God of Christians is a God of Infinite Love.”  The point of this lesson was that damnation is not a process enforced on a person by God, but rather it is a process that the person chooses, freely, over the chance to love.

There are many reasons that people choose not to love, mostly from fear of rejection or of revealing oneself to the intimate knowledge of another, but all have their roots in pride.  People choose pride over love and lose what they most desire, a chance to give and to receive love.  This book presents a series of characters who are given chances to love and to place the well-being and happiness of others before their own.  This book tells us their stories, although that is not what it looks like until well along in the tale.

The protagonist is a retired New York policeman who was injured in line of duty.  As a retirement hobby, he has taken up Sherlockian inquiry and has specialized in “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”  After some years of writing and corresponding, he is invited to be a guest lecturer in Literature at Oxford with expenses paid and a small stipend.  In the depths of winter, a power failure at the University disrupts classes and living accommodations, so our hero elects to visit Dartmoor during this enforced vacation.  Time spent in a small country inn introduces other guests and local problems and the moors exercise their own magic.

The story begins with our hero trying to recover from his experiences on the moors and to put his life back together after a complex experience.  His nightmares and his increasing rejection of his surroundings are pushing him into madness and the process of curing him is one of teaching him to love, first himself, and then others.

The book is well-edited, thoughtful and moving.  Americanisms are appropriate to the narrator and the setting and viewpoint are intrinsically Sherlockian.  It contains something for every taste, action, mystery, horror, supernatural events and romance.”

Mark of The Baskerville Hound is available from all good bookstores including in the USA AmazonBarnes and Noble and Classic Specialities, in the UK AmazonWaterstones,  and for everywhere else Book Depository who offer free worldwide delivery. In ebook format there is KindleNookiPad and Kobo.

 

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