Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - The Hound Of The Baskervilles,
I must confess, I get incredibly excited when I receive a new promo from Cadabra Records, as each one I have had the pleasure to hear is simply superb. Their adaptations of classic books is second to none, and is perfect to listen to either late at night or in the car. This version has none other than Sir Derek Jacobi (Gladiator, The King's Speech, Underworld: Evolution, Frazier, Dr. Who) playing the role of Sherlock Holmes. In 1893, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had tired of his infamous creation, and killed Sherlock Holmes off at the hands of his arch nemesis, Professor Moriarty, in a dramatic plunge off the Reichenbach Falls in the appropriately-titled ‘The Final Problem’. Eight years later, in a response to public furore for more Holmes, the author wrote the story as a hitherto unpublished work from a period in the detective’s career prior to his fateful encounter with Moriarty. ‘The Hound Of The Baskervilles’ was a massive success, and Conan Doyle resurrected Holmes from the dead, continuing to write new adventures until 1927.
Just what is it about this book that has endeared itself to audiences more than any of the other fifty-six short stories and four novels containing the mighty Sherlock? After all, this is a story that is fairly light on Sherlock Holmes himself, as he is absent for a fair amount of the action, faithful sidekick Dr. Watson standing-in as witness to a fair chunk of the action. The appeal may lie in that, of all the original Holmes adventures, this one closest resembles a horror story… and audiences do love a good fright. The ingredients are perfect for an evening of thrills and terror… There is an unexplained death, a spooky old house that is drenched in the legacy of its own bloody history, strange sounds and lights in the night, an escaped inmate from a mental asylum loose upon the moor, and the piece-de-resistance: the Hound itself - a fierce, glowing supernatural presence that is horrific and bloodthirsty. Is it any wonder why the story holds a place among the great literary chillers of all time?
When adapting The Hound Of The Baskervilles for audio, it was very important that the darker elements be brought front and centre, and the listener transplanted to one of the perfect natural locations for a horror story. In this production, you can hear the gurgle of the deadly peat bogs and almost feel the spray of the mist on your face brought by the chill wind that blows across the ominous moor. Baskerville Hall comes alive, every creaking floorboard and mysterious scurry - this is a house where the shadows seem to have a life of their own. There is no doubt that this is an amazing adaptation of a book that has always felt dear to me, possibly because I spent so much time exploring Dartmoor when I was young. Even if you don’t normally listen to audio books, this is one that really does demand investigation.