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The Sign Of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
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The Sign Of Four (original 1890; edition 2011)

by Arthur Conan Doyle

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2,360672,665 (3.78)193
Member:vancouverdeb
Title:The Sign Of Four
Authors:Arthur Conan Doyle
Info:Viking UK (2011), Paperback, 144 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:British Literture, Sherlock Holmes, detective, classic

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The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle (1890)

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Excellent for what it is, of course. This is the second Holmes novella, fits the formula perfectly, and is enjoyable from beginning to end. It features a locked room mystery (sort of), the usual mysteries that had their origin overseas, and even a little romantic interest for Watson. It is not quite as confounding and mysterious, nor is the solution quite as satisfying, as many of the later Holmes stories. But still excellent. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
such fun!! a bit ramble-y at the end, but i had a great time reading this again. it's been years, and years since the last read - and i remembered nothing. oops! watson and sherlock are such comfortable characters, so it's great to be revisiting them again now. ( )
  DawsonOakes | Jun 6, 2014 |
The Sign of the Four is the second novel featuring Sherlock Holmes and was published in 1890. It is actually not that easy to sum up the plot of this novel in a few words as it is very complex. The novel is about a stolen treasure, kept secret by a group of four convicts, and about the disappearance of Captain Arthur Morstan, father of Mary Morstan, Sherlock Holmes' new client. Soon, the detective finds a connection between the treasure and Captain Morstan's disappearance. Thaddeus Sholto, the son of a former comrade of Arthur Morstan, reveals that Morstan died of a heart attack and that Sholto had come into possession of information about the stolen treasure. During the investigation, Dr. Watson falls in love with Mary Morstan, who is to become his wife.

What I found more exciting about The Sign of the Four than its plot, though, was the depiction of its main character, Sherlock Holmes. Compared to the first novel, there is a change in the depiction of Holmes right in the beginning of The Sign of the Four when the reader learns about Holmes using cocaine. While the first novel depicts Holmes as a great detective with a vast knowledge in various fields of study, and someone who perfected the art of deduction, the second novel makes him seem more human. He is less perfect than in the first novel and this makes him a rounder character.

While I liked the character development in this novel, the plot was not really too exciting and a little too complex at times. On the whole, the second Sherlock Holmes novel is still a fairly good read. 3 stars. ( )
  OscarWilde87 | May 16, 2014 |
Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to teach this one since Sherlock Holmes does cocaine and heroin and John Watson doesn't stop him, but it's still a wonderful story. The many layers of mysteries SH keeps track of and finds is impressive. To SH, there are no red herring clues, though some may seem that way to JW and the reader. I can't help but wonder what a novel by SH would look like. Of course, he would never waste his time on something so trivial. ( )
  AprilAnn0814 | Apr 15, 2014 |
Watson: I fear that it may be the last investigation in which I shall have the chance of studying your methods. Miss Morstan has done me the honor to accept me as a husband in prospective.

Sherlock Holmes gave a most dismal groan. “I feared as much,” said he. “I cannot really congratulate you.”

I was a little hurt. “Have you any reason to be dissatisfied with my choice?” I asked.

“Not at all. I think she is one of the most charming young ladies I ever met….But love is an emotional thing and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgment.

"I trust,” said I, laughing, “that my judgment may survive the ordeal.”


Sorry for a lengthy quote but I couldn’t resist. I will remember this second novel in the Sherlock Holmes series for the blooming romance between our dear friend Dr. Watson and the woman in peril, Miss Mary Morstan. When you get romance in Sherlock Holmes you have to cherish it. And Holmes’ cold reaction towards it. There’s a guy who stays true to character.

Of other novelties in the novel one can mention the opening scene where Holmes with much indifference is sniffing cocaine out of boredom. Watson is shocked and warns Holmes of his dangerous cocain habit.

So we come to the mystery itself. Well, all I have to say: This is a short, fast-paced story that takes place all over London - about Miss Morstan and her missing father, a hidden treasure, treachery, murder and greed among the ingredients. Here’s the books concluding remark:

Watson to Holmes: You have done all the work in this business. I geet a wife out of it, Jones (the police investigator) gets the credit, pray what remains for you?

“For me,” said Sherlock Holmes, “there still remains the cocaine-bottle.” And he stretched his long white hand up for it.
( )
1 vote ctpress | Mar 5, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (105 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Doyle, Arthur Conanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ackroyd, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Del Buono , OresteContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gallone, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glinert, EdEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Korhonen, JussiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roden, ChristopherEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantelpiece, and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case.
Quotations
"What is it today," I asked, "morphine or cocaine?"
"No, no: I never guess. It is a shocking habit - destructive to the logical faculty."
"While the individual man is an insoluble puzzle, in the aggregate he becomes a mathematical certainty. You can, for example, never foretell what any one man will do, but you can say with precision what an average number will be up to. Individuals vary, but percentages remain constant."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the main work for The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It should not be combined with any adaptation, abridgement, larger work, etc.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140439072, Paperback)

Yellow fog is swirling through the streets of London, and Sherlock Holmes himself is sitting in a cocaine-induced haze until the arrival of a distressed and beautiful young lady forces the great detective into action. Each year following the strange disappearance of her father, Miss Morstan has received a present of a rare and lustrous pearl. Now, on the day she is summoned to meet her anonymous benefactor, she consults Holmes and Watson.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:58 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A beautiful young woman seeks the help of Holmes and Watson when the mysterious benefactor who has been sending her a pearl each year since her father disappeared wants to meet her. Involved are a priceless hoard of Indian treasure and a murderer. whose trademark is "the sing of four.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 20 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

Three editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140439072, 0141034378, 0241952964

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