Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong: Reopening the Case of The Hound of the Baskervilles

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1902 novel THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, then by all means don’t read Pierre Bayard’s SHERLOCK HOLMES WAS WRONG: REOPENING THE CASE OF THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, because its very concept depends upon revealing each and every twist. In the style of his Agatha Christie exploration WHO KILLED ROGER ACKROYD?, the literature professor tackles one of crime’s sacred cows and arrives at an alternate solution.

Here, Bayard’s switcheroo of culprits hinges largely on Dr. Watson’s reciting “facts” that have been told to him, rather than those he witnessed, thereby calling their verification into question. Add to that Holmes’ grave error of abandoning common sense that, the author says, “can only leave us baffled at the extent of human credulity.”

WRONG reads rightly like an extended essay, albeit one with more spark than the average academic thesis. Die-hard Holmesians aren’t likely to be bored; they may even be riled up and itching for an argument. I’m more pleased to see that a novel written more than 100 years ago still enjoys enough life to be the subject of a lively, good-natured — not to mention book-length — debate. —Rod Lott

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