Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Completed January 3, 2011
Reason for Reading: Carry on in the Series
As a dense yellow fog swirls through the streets of London, a deep melancholy has descended on Sherlock Holmes, who sits in a cocaine-induced haze at 221B Baker Street. His mood is only lifted by a visit from a beautiful but distressed young woman Mary Morstan, whose father vanished ten years before. Four years later she began to receive an exquisite gift every year: a large, lustrous pearl. Now she has had an intriguing invitation to meet her unknown benefactor and urges Holmes and Watson to accompany her. And in the ensuing investigation which involves a wronged woman, a stolen hoard of Indian treasure, a wooden-legged ruffian, a helpful dog and a love affair even the jaded Holmes is moved to exclaim, Isn't it gorgeous!'
This the second book in the Sherlock Holmes series. I have all ready read the third book, so that means that I have actually read 3 books in a series. We will just ignore that it is a series I only started this year...

Once again, I love Sherlock Holmes. I always knew that I would. I should have read these books a long time ago! There was always something about the character of Holmes that appealed to me. Instead, I just watched from the sidelines and never read the originals. I am remedying that now! This book also made me appreciate Watson a bit more. He has a sort of separate storyline in this book that is a bit endearing. In spin-offs that I have seen, people always make Watson seem like a fair less person than Holmes. That is simply not the case. Even if you are not as smart as Holmes, that doesn't make you any less of a person because Holmes is simply a genius. His ideas on things are comical and you often wonder how he accomplishes anything.

This is another short look at one of the cases that Holmes investigates. It starts with a distraught, but sensible, young woman who comes to him for help. I have to admit, for the time in which these books were written, the women are actually sensible. They are not entirely Damsel in Distress characters. Some of them handle things rather well. In the short story collection I reviewed earlier this year, one woman even outsmarts Holmes. I have to applaud Doyle for mostly treating women in his books with dignity and respect. Now, some of the things that Holmes says about women are not exactly flattering, but one has to pick their battles!

There is a lot of elements to this case that sound rather odd, but when Doyle puts them together they make for another fun addition to the series. I am looking forward to more later on in the year!

The Series:
1. A Study in Scarlet
2. The Sign of Four
3. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
4. Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
5. The Hound of Baskervilles
6. The Valley of Fear
7. The Return of Sherlock Holmes
8. His Last Bow
9. The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

This book counts for the TwentyEleven Reading Challenge.


  1. Watson never gets enough credit. Sign of Four holds a special place in my heart- it really bridges the gap between Study and Scarlet (which is great, but a bit disjointed) and the somewhat more complex, more sophisticated Holmes stories that come after.
    The next full novel- Hound of the Baskervilles is amazing. A great use of atmosphere by Doyle and Watson gets to work on his own for a while in that as well.

  2. Odessa: I am looking forward to more of this series!


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