Mystery and Detective Fiction

The Arthur Doyle short tale "The Hound of the Baskervilles" offers a chance to investigate various aspects of mystery and sleuthing. This is due to the fact that the book deals with character deaths that are mysterious as well as inquiries to determine the cause of their deaths. The mystery is also hinted at at the story's opening, when an unidentified visitor left a cane in their workplace. The main characters provide a framework for exploring the various kinds of detectives that can be employed, the technology used by detectives, as well as the history of criminal identification. The story begins after the sudden and mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville whose replacement has already received intimidation from anonymous sources. Dr. Watson who has incredible observation skills was tasked together with Holmes to investigate the death alongside the escape and death of a kidnapped girl. James Mortimer gave the instructions. The young lady had been abducted by Hugo who kept her in his castle in the 1940s. During the capture, the girl escaped the castle where Hugo rode after her. Friends then decided to run after to stop him but discovered two human corpses. The girl had already died allegedly from exhaustion as well as the fear that a creepy madman would ride her down. Hugo also died from demon attacks in the form of giant black dog which tore his throat out.

The story alludes that there is a hound that attacks the Baskervilles and Holmes is requested to let the new Baskervilles called Henry know without threatening him. He agrees to meet him. Henry reveals the warning message to keep away from the moor during the meeting as well his missing brown and black boots. The observation skills of Watson are first seen when they discover that a big beard man following Sir Henry. The two decide to go and investigate the Baskervilles Hall. On arrival, they see that the hall is old and gloomy and in a crisis.

The visit sheds light on their investigation task. The crisis in the Hall is about to grow since Henry’s butler had plans of quitting his job. This helps in the origin of the investigation since he coincidentally had a large beard. He is also a prime suspect in Sir Charles’ murder since his wife was a beneficiary of his will. The visit also makes them interact more people that would help in the investigation. They meet with Stapleton, Henry's neighbor who seems to a lot about the Hound carrying a butterfly. She confuses Watson with Henry and instructs him to return to London. Upon realizing that Watson is not Sir Henry, she refuses to explain to him the reasons for leaving London.

More mysteries are revealed. They spot Barrymore with a candle in the window looking up the moors. They spot the candle a couple of nights later. It is later revealed that these candles belong to Selden who is a psychotic murderer and that the signals were signals for him to be fed. Selden escapes, but they spot a new guy in the moors. They also establish the Laura, Frankland’s daughter, who wrote Charles a letter on the day he was killed. She confesses to not meeting Charles that fateful night. Upon confronting Frankland, he admitted to seeing a boy take food to the huts on the moors; they believe it is Selden. Watson goes to the night only to discover that it was Sherlock Holmes. This simplifies his bid to unravel the mysteries surrounding the hound.

Holmes discovered that Stapleton was seeing Laura and had a connection with the murders. They lay a trap by sending Sir Henry to him where he attempts to kill Henry, but Watson and Holmes reach in time to save him from the giant dog trying to maul him. They then visit Laura who confesses that the letter she wrote was dictated by Stapleton meaning he is the one that met Charles on that fateful night, not Laura. They then get into the house where Stapleton’s wife leads them into Stapleton’s hiding place. The place had henry’s missing shoes which were used to train the dog. The dog was, therefore, trained and not a devil as it had been purported.

The story ends after Watson and Holmes have successfully unraveled the mysteries. Stapleton is behind the death of the two Baskervilles. His real names are Young Rodger, and he was Sir Charles’ uncle. He was motivated by the desire to inherit the Baskervilles since he was in line. He argued that killing the other two Baskerville would get the chance to inherit the Baskervilles. The two discovered that the dogs were not hounds but rather dogs trained using scent from boots They also established that Beryl who was Stapleton’s wife was the one who wrote the mysterious note to Sir Henry. This story therefore clearly shows the use of anthropometry in mystery detective activities.

Anthropometry in detection is concerned with the use of personal measurements to identify criminals. It draws its logic from the fact that all human beings differ in size and shapes and that the different measurements yield a unique characteristic. Alphonse Bertillon who lived between 1853 and 1914 is regarded as the father of criminal investigation. His journey started when he designed a filing system in his clerk job based on anthropometric measurements. The measurements had been broken down into three subcategories. In 1882, he was given a chance to prove the eligibility of the anthropometric system where he identified the most habitual offender. The shortcomings of the system are that the system cannot be used to distinct persons. The story shows how Watson and his friend Holmes utilized anthropometric measurements to identify Stapleton through factors such as a long beard.

The book also enlightens us on the origin of identifying criminals. The system of identifying criminals today has its basis in the science of anthropology. The law enforcers now believe that every individual has a unique combination of measurements and therefore the system focuses on measurements and recordings of the different components of a human body. This system, known as a Bertillon system came into use since its invention in 1879, and positive results have been seen. French police captured 241 repeat offenders in 1884 using this system. However, while the anthropology purely refers to measurements, this system includes the use of photographs of criminals. The effectiveness of photographs is also reflected in the book where Dr. Watson noted that the man spying Sir Henry had a long beard making it easy for him to be identified upon seeing him for the second time.

The Bertillon system depicted in the book is however not a certain detective technique. This is because personal identification it was followed by the invention of Dactylography and DNA testing. Dactylography is concerned with the scientific measurements of fingerprints. The first book on dactylography was published in 1892 by Galton followed by Juan Vucetich in 1894. More fingerprints systems were invented including the Henry System, the Faurot and James Jones system. The Henry system gained the most popularity since it was combined with the Bertillon system making it more efficient. Theses fingerprints systems can be used to identify the perpetrator of a crime even when the suspects look identical as it was the case with The West Case in 1903 (Swansea et al. 2017).

Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) typing is the last personal identification technique. This system involves the extraction of a biological sample to obtain a DNA profile. DNA typing is a scientific procedure based on the understanding of a cell genetic and molecular principles. Initially known as DNA fingerprinting, DNA typing was first used in a criminal case in England in1987. DNA typing was also employed in a series of Orlando raping cases in 1986 after which its use gained popularity in the USA. FBI became the first public sector to offer DNA typing. While DNA typing is a very useful personal identification technique, its use is not mentioned in the book since it is a modern technique.

It is clear that The Hound of the Baskervilles provides a platform to understand personal identification in criminal cases. The book shows the use of the Bertillon system to identify Stapleton, a prime suspect in the murder of Sir Charles. Since the book was published a long time ago, other personal identification techniques such as the DNA Typing and Dactylography had not been discovered. Research, however, shows that these two methods are also effective in the personal identification of criminals.

Works Cited

Doyle, Arthur. The Hound of the Baskervilles. United Kingdom: George Newnes, 1982.

Swansea, Charles, Chamelin, Neil, and Territo Leornard. “The Evolution of Criminal Investigation and Criminalistics.” Mc Graw Hill, er_outline.html. Assessed April 3 2017.

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