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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Reading progress update: I've read 15 out of 182 pages.

The Hound of the Baskervilles - Illustrated -  Arthur Conan Doyle

I truly meant to make it to the end of chapter 2, which in the original serial format is where the first instalment left off with the somewhat famous quote:

 

"Mr. Holmes, they are the footprints of a gigantic hound!"

 

But I passed out asleep 3 pages short.   I did read the introduction of my edition though (Illustrated Folio Society), written by Julian Symons and I thought it one of the better, more insightful introductions to a classic I've ever read.  Most of the time I think the writer sounds pretentious, arguing as facts things that can only be speculated about.  

 

Symons sticks to the facts. For example, this is the only Holmes novel that does not use a flash-back, but instead uses Holmes' absence to finish another case to the same purpose; it seems that Doyle felt that a full length novel that kept Holmes at center stage the entire time would be entirely too much Holmes.

 

Symons also talks about the gaps in Holmes' arsenal: fingerprints are only ever mentioned in one story; ballistics are never mentioned at all, and passing reference is only ever made twice in regards to Bertillon who was at the height of his fame for his anthropometrical method.  These are all fair points, although I think Symons is unfair when he criticises Homes for not being at all aware of Lacassagne's achievement in forensic medicine:  If dead bodies were involved in the stories, they were generally, um, fresh.  Holmes never had to identify a skeleton, after all.

 

I'm hoping to get a bit more read this afternoon, although I did not sleep well last night and might do the book the gross injustice of falling asleep over it again.  Obsidian Black Death already posted the best quote so far in her status update, although I'm equally fond of this one (it made me snigger):

 

'Has anything escaped me?" I asked, with some self-importance. 'I trust that there is nothing of consequence which I have over-looked?'

 

'I am afraid, my dear Watson, that most of your conclusions were erroneous.  When I said you stimulated me I meant, to be frank, that in noting your fallacies I was occasionally guided towards the truth.'

 

I'd say "poor Watson" but really, he should be used to this by now...