The Hound of the Baskervilles is probably the most famous story in the entire Sherlock Holmes canon - and for good reason! This book was my first Sherlock Holmes story and even now it's probably still my favourite :) Unlike A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four this book doesn't give the villain a lengthy and tedious backstory and it has a wonderful gothic atmosphere! At this moment in time I've only read the first 2/3 of the Sherlock Holmes canon but, judging from the stories that I have read, I'd say that only The Speckled Band and The Copper Beeches come close to capturing the level of suspense and creepiness of this novel. In excellent descriptive passages, Doyle manages to make Dartmoor seem like a truly eerie and dangerous place. Doyle is criminally underrated as a writer, I tell you!
Some Sherlock Holmes fans actually dislike the fact that Holmes is technically absent for about half the novel but I'm not one of them. Holmes still has a presence in the story and personally I love the fact that Watson gets the chance to step into the limelight for a change! The book reinforces how determined, loyal and brave Watson is and he gets a lot to do. He spends a great deal of time interviewing people and gathering clues for Holmes in this one and he even manages to solve a subplot all by himself! The Hound of the Baskervilles is a fantastic story for him!
Finally, another reason why I love this book so much is because of its wonderfully eccentric and memorable Dartmoor characters. There's Dr Mortimer with his obsession with phrenology, Mr Frankland and his love of lawsuits, Mr Stapleton's interest in butterflies... and the villain in this book is awesome too! Definitely one of the cleverest and most formidable in the canon!
The Hound of the Baskervilles is a brilliant book and I know for a fact that it makes a superb introduction to the Sherlock Holmes canon. I first read this one when I was about 12. Even though I didn't love this book anywhere near as much then as I do now the story still stayed with me and I'm convinced that I owe a big part of my love of Gothic literature and mysteries to it :)