(*First published in a serialized fashion by The Strand Magazine August 1901 - April 1902. SPOILERS AHEAD)
In this final chapter of our tale, we get precisely what is promised via its title, that being 'A Retrospection.' It tightly ties up mostly all of the conceivable loose ends so that this final installment of my look-see seems destined to be the shortest. This as I prefer to leave something, anything, on the table enough so that you, in fact, are convinced to READ MORE. More meaning the entire book either for the finally at long last first time or as a re-reading. Perhaps you've read along with this series. That would be cool.
[You still can read along, you know. Perhaps you might start straight-away at Chapter 1 HERE.]
As to this last chapter of HOUN, it is a nice return to form insofar as characters mainly through familiar dialog between Holmes and Watson. I will say it feels perhaps a tick lacking in a full return to the familiar environs of 221B Baker Street. I'd have liked the setting to have matched the conversation in its return to cool normalcy, is what I'm saying. Although to be fair, we do begin with our dynamic duo "... on either side of a blazing fire in our sitting-room in Baker Street." Is that enough though? What, no gasogene? No coal scuttle full of cigars? No Mrs. Hudson? I ask a lot, I know.
A quick note of some import. I feel as though as time went on, my thoughts and therefore my writings kept closer and closer to the tale at hand--which is a sincere hat-tip to the sheer page-turning storytelling force of ACD. I was knee-deep in the tale unfurling so much so that I found less opportunity, want, or need to deviate down rabbit holes along the path to conclusion. Here in the recapitulation portion though, perhaps Doyle shows us a bit too much about how the sausage is made behind the magician's curtain. Let's reset and take as linear a peek as I can feebly muster.
The familiar Holmesian trait of alluding to other and unpublished cases follows hot on the heels of the previously-pulled quote. That's neat. Time has passed enough now to have seen a pair of cases opened and closed since their Baskerville Hall adventure. They must have been quick cases, for it seems only a month or so has passed twixt. Those cases loom here in the disclosure of events at Devonshire, however, as Holmes notes when Watson asks for such: "Certainly, though I cannot guarantee that I carry all the facts in my mind. Intense mental concentration has a curious way of blotting out what has passed." Nice disclaimer, bruv.
Let's focus on new albeit perhaps trivial information. The hound was purchased in London at a place or fellows called Ross and Mangles. I will note that there are two 'hits' of Ross Mangles. One was a rare civilian recipient of the Victoria Cross (Ross Lowis Mangles, 1883-1905), and another Ross Donnelly Mangles (1801-77) was a member of Parliament from '41-'57. I'll keep it face value here and simply delight in "Mangles" as used in a rather Dick Tracy manner of almost comedically descriptive names eg: Flattop, Little Face, and B-B eyes. Fun stuff and just maybe a look at ancient hard-boiled ancestry through to say Mike Hammer as a brutal brawling private eye who sees every problem as a nail.
Let me put this thought right here: I hope that Sir Henry does not wind up with Beryl Garcia when he returns with Mortimer from their long vacation journeying and mourning over dead dogs and bad women. She was a victim when we met her here but I feel she was much more an accomplice of the willing variety prior to that and during that rash of unsolved misdoings alluded to in this chapter. I digress.
Then more of what feels like when those hack magicians expose tricks on TikTok and share it to Instagram where it hits my unsuspecting feed. Although that's too harsh I feel. There is something to be said for tightly affixing a bow to a well-wrapped gift--this, is much more that. But I did promise brevity. Is this Doylean debriefing necessary? I believe so, although it could have been made a bit more-so via what I've already cited as lacking. Quick question: Why did Stapleton return the new boot that was of no use? Wouldn't he have just pitched it? I am stuck on this boot and have been throughout. It's interesting, how the mind works.
Of interest too, is how we conclude with how another thing works. That other thing being how inheritances and ascensions to thrones work, a thing of somewhat topical nature since as I write this Queen Elizabeth II has recently passed and King Charles III takes her place. How would Stapleton have ascended to claim his rightful spot oh so wrongly achieved? Says Holmes, "It is a formidable difficulty, and I fear that you ask too much when you expect me to solve it." I DIDN'T ASK THOUGH! sheesh.
Thoughts on Chapter 14
Thoughts on Chapter 1
::: very :::
Online sources for this article: The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia (The Hound of the Baskervilles). You can read this tale in full there, so you know. READ MORE. Or LISTEN MORE, as I've found listening to the Bob Neufeld reading for LibriVox quite enjoyable and useful. Also, Wikipedia (Ross Mangles and Ross Donnelly Mangles).