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The Hound of the Baskervilles is the third of the four crime novels written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes. Originally serialised in The Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902, it is set largely on Dartmoor in Devonin England's West Country and tells the story of an attempted murder inspired by the legend of a fearsome, diabolical hound of supernatural origin. Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson investigate the case. This was the first appearance of Holmes since his intended death in "The Final Problem", and the success of The Hound of the Baskervilles led to the character's eventual revival.
In 2003, the book was listed as number 128 of 200 on the BBC's The Big Read poll of the UK's "best-loved novel." In 1999, it was listed as the top Holmes novel, with a perfect rating from Sherlockian scholars of 100.
Sir Charles Baskerville, baronet, is found dead on the grounds of his country house, Baskerville Hall. The cause is ascribed to a heart attack. Fearing for the safety of Sir Charles's nephew and the only known heir, Sir Henry Baskerville, coming from Canada to claim his inheritance, Dr James Mortimer travels to London and asks Sherlock Holmes for help.
Mortimer explains that the Baskerville family is afflicted by a curse. According to an old account, said to have been written in 1742 and describing events which had occurred a century earlier still, during the English Civil War, Hugo Baskerville was infatuated with a farmer's daughter. He kidnapped her and imprisoned her in his bedroom. She escaped and the furious Baskerville offered his soul to the devil if he could recapture her. Aided by friends, he pursued the girl onto the desolate moor. Baskerville and his victim were found dead. She had died from fright, but a giant spectral hound stood guard over Baskerville's body. The hound tore out Baskerville's throat, then vanished into the night.
Sir Charles Baskerville had become fearful of the legendary curse and its hellhound. Mortimer concluded that Sir Charles had been waiting for someone when he died. His face was contorted in a ghastly expression, while his footprints suggested that he was running away from something. The elderly man's heart wasn't strong, and he had planned to go to London the very next day. Mortimer says he had seen the footprints of a "gigantic hound" near Sir Charles's body, though nothing was revealed at the inquest.
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