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BOOK SUMMARY AND NOTES - The Hound of the Baskervilles
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: A Retrospection
Holmes has had two cases since the Baskerville one, but they are now over as well. With the visit from Sir Henry and Dr. Mortimer that day (about to embark on a trip to complete the restoration of the baronet’s health), circumstances are right for Watson to ask about the details of the case.
case is documented in his list (as promised in Chapter Thirteen), Holmes tells
the course of events from memory. Stapleton is the son of Rodger Baskerville,
born in South America and with the same name. He married Beryl Garcia of Costa
Rica and they came to England after he stole a large amount of money. They changed
their name to Vandeleur and established a school through the help of a tutor named
Fraser. Vandeleur did have some success in entomology and had a moth named after
him, before Fraser died and the school failed with a bad reputation.
Under the name Stapleton, they moved to Devonshire, where he soon found out that he was in line for a sizeable inheritance. Not knowing this or of Stapleton’s violent nature (it is believed that he is also responsible for several other violent crimes in the area, when his money was running low), Sir Charles and Dr. Mortimer talked freely with him, supplying additional information that he was able to use. Deciding to base the crime on the old family legend, he bought the vicious hound in London and walked it out to the hiding place in Grimpen Mire.
When his wife became uncooperative, he used Mrs. Lyons to lure Sir Charles out at night and then let loose the hound that pursued the old man until he collapsed dead. At Sir Henry’s arrival, Stapleton went into London where he followed him and had the boot stolen, so that the hound would have a scent. The preference for an old boot over a new one was Holmes’s clue that the hound was indeed real.
Mrs. Stapleton had also come to London, since her husband would not risk leaving her out of his control. She did manage to get the note to Sir Henry though and the lingering scent of her perfume on it helped lead Holmes to the correct suspect. While they were gone, their servant Anthony, who has since left the country, took care of the hound.
As events moved to Baskerville Hall and the surrounding area, Holmes began staying at Coombe Tracey and, when necessary, in the abandoned hut. In that way, and with Cartwright’s help, he was able to observe much without being known. The only thing left that Holmes is not able to answer completely (there are three alternatives) is how Stapleton planned on getting the inheritance if he had managed to kill Sir Henry. But knowing Stapleton’s evil cunning, Holmes is sure he would have found a way.
But the crime has been solved once again. Relaxing from their difficult work, Watson and Holmes are content to get dinner and take in the opera before another case comes their way, as it undoubtedly will.
Chapter Fifteen is basically an overview of the case, tying up any loose ends or questions that might still be lingering in the reader’s mind. This method of wrapping up is used frequently in detective stories, up to the modern day television show Monk. Clues are dropped at various points throughout the story but the reader never has enough knowledge to completely solve the case until this point, when the detective sums up the case. This is unlike most other genres, where readers are used to finding things out as the characters do. But as Watson noted in Chapter Fourteen, detectives, unlike other people, do not like to disclose information beforehand; and Holmes would be the last to give up his talent to “dominate and surprise those who were around him.”