WARNING: Ripping Book Reviews are solely the judgments of Professor VJ Duke on an unlucky book that has caused him much repulsion—in one way or another. Therefore, blame must be put on the professor and nobody else. With that in mind, read on—if you are brave enough to take it.
THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES by SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
Doyle and I have warred on two separate occasions. Each time, the professor was victorious—and he didn’t take any hostages.
Before we get started, the professor must make something clear. Baskervilles—as we shall term the novel, since it’s a lengthy title—caused some repulsion, but not too much. Of course, Doyle is a repulsion, so we can rip on that fact alone. Besides, he has also deposited a few rippable jewels throughout Baskervilles.
So, then—to war!
The novel opens up with a very frequent occurrence: Holmes—I suppose I should say Doyle—makes a gigantic fool out of Watson. I suppose it might not be a hard thing to do, but either Holmes or Doyle has a penchant for it—to a high degree.
Holmes is seated at the breakfast table when Watson shows up. Holmes has his back to Watson, yet he knows that he has appeared. Of course, this vexes Watson:
“How did you know what I was doing? I believe you have eyes in the back of your head.”
I believe what Watson meant to say is: How did you know I was here? But we must forgive him; he was flustered.
And Holmes replies:
“I have, at least, a well-polished, silver-plated coffee-pot in front of me…”
Now, interestingly enough, this told the professor something very disturbing about Watson. You see, Watson is extremely silent, stealthy, and sneaky. He doesn’t make any noise whatsoever. As a matter of fact, if you don’t have a well-polished coffee-pot, your hopes for finding Watson are slim.
Notice that this is a double effort here to make Watson look silly. In truth, I do fear that if Doyle did not lead Holmes around, Holmes would be very dull.
It’s interesting to note that Holmes says, “I have, at least…” Now that is telling. You see, maybe Watson miscalculated and the floor boards creaked under him, or maybe he was breathing extra hard, but whatever the case, we can assume that he did, in fact, make a noise. And Holmes is trying to cover it up and look brilliant. For in truth, Holmes actually heard Watson’s mistake, and that’s why he said ‘at least.’ He was just trying to seem smarter than he really was.
I’m also positively sure that Holmes was deeply grateful to Doyle for polishing his coffee-pot.
I would just like to present one more example of how Holmes delights in making Watson to look like a fool.
“…It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it. I confess, my dear fellow [He’s trying to be nice with that endearment after he insulted him, but it comes across rather dry.] that I am very much in your debt.”
Now of course, Watson is flattered; I would have been insulted.
But even the unbelievingly dull Watson is slightly insulted by Holmes next statement:
“…When I said that you stimulated me I meant, to be frank, that in noting your fallacies I was occasionally guided towards the truth…”
I would have shot Holmes; Watson was confused.
Throughout the novel, the reader comes to realize that Holmes understands and perceives things that normal people just wouldn’t. No doubt it’s because he’s in cahoots with Doyle himself.
I shall present an example.
Holmes and Watson are inspecting a walking stick that has teeth marks on it. Holmes says [because Watson is too dull to come to any conclusions himself]:
“…Being a heavy stick the dog has held it tightly by the middle, and the marks of his teeth are very plainly visible. The dog’s jaw, as shown in the space between these marks, is too broad in my opinion for a terrier and not broad enough for a mastiff. It may have been—yes, by Jove, it is a curly-haired spaniel.”
Wow. Truly impressive.
It’s a wonder to this professor that Watson missed Doyle whispering in Holmes’ ear. I say it was close to a mistake to say that the spaniel was curly-haired. Watson may have missed Doyle, but even I thought he’d catch that one. How Holmes gets from teeth marks to types of hair is a great mystery—well, in fact, it’s revealing. But all is just fine. You see, Watson should be added to the league of persons who are dull to the point of tears. As a matter of fact, anyone who exhibits Watson’s brilliance should get an award. We’ll call it: Watson’s Award of Absolute Brilliance.
While there are many examples of Watson’s dullness and Holmes’ brilliance (many thanks to Doyle) throughout the novel, there are only a few instances of Holmes’ rottenness.
And the professor must needs show one. Holmes says:
“…And I have also communicated with my faithful Cartwright [a boy who helps Holmes] who would certainly have pined away at the door of my hut, as a dog does at his master’s grave, if I had not set his mind at rest about my safety.”
Holmes isn’t intimidated; Holmes isn’t scared. He comes right out and tells us what he thinks of his helper: he thinks him a dog. Yes, it is pretty nasty, but Holmes does seem quite wicked.
So, that is the majority of rippable parts in Baskervilles. There are more, of course, but these are the main ones.
I purposely did not tell you too much about the story, for this professor does recommend the book. It’s an interesting mystery, written very well.
After reading this novel, I can definitely say that Doyle’s historical fiction is far worse—and more rippable. Nevertheless, Baskervilles will make an entertaining read one drizzly afternoon—when there’s nothing else to do.
Doyle and I battled again, but this time, the professor took hostages.