McMurdo’s Camp

Baskerville Serial Challenge

The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of the four Sherlock Holmes Novels.  Most fans and critics believe it to the be one of the very best Holmes stories.   It was first published in The Strand Magazine, in serial form in nine parts, eight years after Doyle “killed off” Sherlock Holmes in The Final Problem in 1893. Doyle brought Holmes “back from the dead” in 1903, when The Empty House was published.  However, The Hound of the Baskervilles came out in 1901 but was set in a time frame prior to Holmes’ misadventure in the Reichenbach Falls, his disappearance, and presumed death.  The new novel filled a big gap in popular culture of the time, and each issue was eagerly awaited. Circulation of The Strand Magazine jumped enormously with its publication.  Magazine stands and bookstalls in London were crowded with anxious buyers on the publication days.

The story was published in nine parts, so there were eight “breaks” in the action.  As in any serial, whether in a newspaper or magazine, on TV or in the movies, it was a common strategy to try to hook the reader or viewer by ending each episode at a point of high suspense.  Readers of The Strand Magazine had to wait a month for each new one.

If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you already know the story and the plot.  If you have not read the book, beware, spoilers ahead!   The challenge here is for you experienced Sherlockians to think over the story, or re-read it, and try to identify the eight stopping points.  Answers are given in the subordinate page entitled Break Points in Baskerville.  AND NO PEEKING !

(If you have not read The Hound of the Baskervilles, go and read it, with this challenge in mind.  The first break will be obvious, and will probably make your hair stand on end.)  You can find all the stories on-line in the Sherlockian Link in the sidebar, Doyle’s Works.


  1. The most dramatic line in the
    entire Sherlockian Canon is
    “Mr. Holmes, they were the
    footprints of a gigantic
    hound!” An editor would
    have to have been a half-wit
    not to have made THAT one
    a break!!

    ——Blog author agrees. Although we think “Birdy Edwards is here. I am Birdy Edwards.” runs a close second. Were it not for the “supernatural” aspect, Birdy’s line might be tops. But we in the Camp have our prejudices, too.

    Thank you, Ms. Blunder. Good luck on the rest of them. If you can do it without any cheating (remember, White Mason is watching you!) we May reward you with a free Cyber-membership.


    Comment by Karen Murdock — July 30, 2008 @ 9:42 pm

    • “Birdy Edwards is here. I am Birdy Edwards.” also has supernatural aspect.
      It is something like “I am here. Aham Brahmasmi” (Famous statement in Hindu Mythology which means ‘I am God’ in Sanskrit)

      Comment by balajian — June 25, 2012 @ 6:42 am

  2. Okay, yeah, the first one was a given. So is the fake-out in the middle of chapter twelve. The other six, though… hm. Offhand and judging by successor magazines like Analog, I don’t think we can rely on the Strand to standardize the length of these installments, but we can still use the number of installments as a rough guide, so that’d make the break in chapter twelve the seventh one. I think that leaves the eighth break as the end of chapter thirteen, no matter how lovingly Wishbone dramatized Hugo’s portrait. (I’m really glad I misremembered a lot of that Wishbone episode, BTW. It was a botchery and no mistake. I did remember whodunnit, but frankly “whatthehecksgoinon” is more this story’s focal mystery anyway.)

    I think the second break is at the end of chapter three as it sensibly should be, even if it’s not really a thrills-and-chills ending. The third… I want to say it was the name he gave the cabman, but that really seems to break up the flow of conversation, so let’s make it the end of chapter five. Number four has to be “Go straight back to London, instantly.” Narrative gears get shifted between chapter nine and ten, making it awkward to have both in the same chapter, so the end of chapter nine must be the fifth break.

    Aw man, I must have miscalculated. The revelation of Selden’s neighbor is prime break material, and it’s only four pages away from the fake-out in my copy. But if we put the seventh break at the end of chapter twelve, I think we’ll be relatively okay.

    Only the fourth of those conjectured breaks falls in the middle of a chapter. It would also entail a mid-chapter switch from narrative to epistolary. I’ll thus change it to the end of chapter seven.

    So, my final answer: the breaks come at the ends of chapters two, three, five, seven, nine, eleven, twelve and thirteen.

    I don’t know what exactly cyber-membership entails, but I really hope I’ve earned it. Seriously, you folks seem like the only Sherlockians to fully acknowledge what an incredible character McMurdo is, and I’d be glad to be among your number. And I guess I’ll wait for you to respond; I’m paranoid that if I go to the answer sheet, my IP will be recorded with an imprecise timestamp or something.

    Comment by Bard — July 9, 2011 @ 1:32 am

    • Or, I guess, I’ll wait until it’s midnight in Michigan. That could work too.

      Comment by Bard — July 9, 2011 @ 10:19 am

    • Okay, that was a pitiful performance. I find it interesting that I thought of being a sadistic arse, but did not realize the most obvious point at which to do so. -.-

      But now that I’ve looked into your membership conditions, I guess I’ve got a charter membership in the hollow of my hand.

      Comment by Bard — July 10, 2011 @ 1:59 am

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