The Baskerville Legacy was not at all what I expected. When I saw it in the book shop I was immediately attracted by the cover and the subtitle “A Confession”. Ah ha, I thought, this is going to be a lovely Holmesian pastiche telling the true story of the Hound of the Baskervilles; not a straight retelling because Conan Doyle himself appears all the way through, so not a version of Holmes but a “how it came to be”. Which it was and wasn’t.

There isn’t actually a mystery here. It’s the story of how The Hound came to be written; the germ of an idea by a friend of Conan Doyle, a man called Bertram Fletcher Robinson, worked on jointly or so it would appear. But in many ways the tale being written is incidental, as this is a book about friendship, writing, collaboration, professional jealousy, talent or the lack of it and the impact of a dissolute lifestyle. Oh and of course there is spiritualism.

It’s a really enjoyable short book, and one of the most interesting things (apart from the portrait of Conan Doyle who isn’t always the jovial chap he was often portrayed as) is where the author has taken real events and changed or elaborated on them to produce his novel. because Robinson and Doyle were friends, holidayed together, and appeared to have collaborated though Doyle is the sole author on all published versions. there seems to have been a real controversy over this though as the author says none of the correspondence between the two men (if it still exists) has ever been made public. The author’s note at the end is a fascinating read all by itself.

I very much enjoyed this story, with its unsettling air of creepiness, of jealousy and strong feelings, and would recommend it as something a little bit different on the whole Holmesian thing. So not what I expected as I said, but a very happy accident.

This was my second Readathon read.

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