The Baskerville Legacy: A Novel by John O'Connell
|The Baskerville Legacy: A Novel by John O'Connell|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: There is a legacy involved in The Hound of the Baskervilles - both in the plot, and in its background, as this short mystery proves with some compelling faction.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 172||Date: September 2011|
|Publisher: Short Books|
1900, and a man on a ship coming back from the Boer War to edit the Daily Express meets one of his heroes in the form of Arthur Conan Doyle. With similar experiences and interests yet different enough to bounce off each other they take up the idea of collaborating on a plot. When they do fix on time to do so, it leads to literary prospects, which lead to a week's research together on Dartmoor, which leads to The Hound of the Baskervilles. But perhaps in a way that only one of them intended.
That much is true, for Bertram Fletcher Robinson was that man, and did exist. Even more beneficial is the fact that his participation in Hound is one of the lesser-known quirks of crime fiction history. The ending here is a rather awkward mash of O'Connell's fiction, O'Connell's facts and original sources, but what leads to that is a very intriguing short novel.
While reading it you may think it could be even shorter, for the build-up to Conan Doyle's return to writing Sherlock Holmes seems a long time building. But given this is a first-person narrative/testimony/diary, and O'Connell is successfully writing in a sort of Watson-esque tone, so there's a thriller sort of play successfully enacted, with much of O'Connell's supposition about Robinson dripping into the story before proving of relevance later.
As such this is more powerful than it would appear. Conan Doyle seems right, given the masking bias of Robinson's opinions changing through this story. Certainly the plot covers historical truths and known elements of his character. With the more made-up factors there is no less mystery or success, courtesy of a welter of plot strands I can easily recommend you discover. It won't ever become a classic such as that it concerns, and Mrs Robinson's admittedly impossible opinions are unneeded, but it's a firm example of faction that Holmes fans should eagerly lap up.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
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