cover image The Moor

The Moor

Laurie R. King. Thomas Dunne Books, $23.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-312-16934-3

On Dartmoor, a man lies dead beside ""the footprints of a very large dog."" Sound familiar? Yes, Sherlock Holmes is tracking the Hound of the Baskervilles again, some 20 years later with his wife, Mary Russell, whom King has so ably placed beside Holmes in such novels as A Letter of Mary and The Beekeeper's Apprentice. As a narrator, Russell is both more analytical and humorous than Watson. Still, the moor's eerie gloom pervades this sharp yet respectfully nostalgic update of Conan Doyle's classic novella. The elderly, eccentric Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould asks his friend Holmes to investigate the murder, as well as sightings of a ghostly carriage drawn by headless horses accompanied by a gigantic hound. In the constant fog and bone-chilling rain, Holmes and Russell tramp the muddy moors interviewing delightful characters. The new owner of Baskerville Hall, a mysterious, wealthy American, is the obvious villain, although it takes all the detectives' skills to determine his motives. This effort is slightly hobbled by the slow coalescence of its subplots. But King, always a fluent writer, is a wonder at combining the original ""Hound"" tale with a real person (Baring-Gould) and modern themes (land fraud) into a new, captivating story. (Jan.)