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The Sign Of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Sign Of Four (original 1890; edition 2011)

by Arthur Conan Doyle

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2,784852,103 (3.78)213
Title:The Sign Of Four
Authors:Arthur Conan Doyle
Info:Viking UK (2011), Paperback, 144 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:British Literture, Sherlock Holmes, detective, classic

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The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle (1890)


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The Sign of Four- Doyle
Audio version performed by Michael Page

4 stars

This story was Conan Doyle’s second novella featuring the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. It was published two years following A Study in Scarlet. The story introduces many of the defining elements of a Holmes and Watson adventure, including Holmes’ drug addiction and Watson’s love affair with the female lead. The plot involves a lost treasure, a peg-legged ex-convict, a pigmy with a blow gun and a river boat chase scene. There is a lot of action packed in less than 100 pages. Overall this is not my favorite Holmes story. From a 21st century stand point this is one of the most politically incorrect stories in the collection. And although that is only to be expected for the time period, it makes this one less enjoyable for me. I also think that Doyle’s style and story telling improved as he tightened up the adventures and made the stories even shorter. However, it must be said that this story has some of Doyle’s most colorful characters. Michael Page did a great job bring the whole motley crew to life. This was a fun, quick book to listen to while running errands in the car.

There’s a very interesting bit of trivia concerning this story. Doyle was commissioned to write this story at a dinner with the editor, James M. Stoddart. At the same dinner, Stoddard commissioned Oscar Wilde to write The Picture of Dorian Gray.

( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |

The Sign of The Four will be used in the third series of BBC Sherlock as The Sign of Three. I'm quite thrilled that for once I have read the book before they used it, and I will be able to look for everything they used form the book. I can't wait till the third series start!

I liked reading this book as well. The writing style is still quite modern, and reads very easily. The story itself is quite interesting, so it was really a nice read. ( )
  Floratina | May 26, 2016 |
So far (having only read this, A study in Scarlet, and The Hound of the Baskervilles), this is my least favorite. It's still good - but somehow this story never truly captured me. ( )
  zombiehero | Mar 25, 2016 |
Another tale involving Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. In this episode, Sherlock is visited by a young and attractive lady, claiming that her father disappeared six years ago and she has been receiving one pearl per year since then. Finally someone contacted her to give news on what happened to her father, but she wants Sherlock and Holmes to accompany her in this meeting. When they reach the place for the main meeting, the brother of the "hostess" was murder and an incredible story develops from there, with Sherlock using his incredible reasoning to figure out and ultimately capture his suspect. Genius! I recommend this book to the permanent library of any reader that enjoys a very well written book in the genre of mystery. This is a classic!
( )
  rmattos | Jan 23, 2016 |
I bought this audiobook when it was a Daily Deal on Audible.

I reviewed an e-book version of this way back in April, so I don't plan to write another synopsis or very much about the story itself. My feelings about the story didn't really change, although I was maybe more keenly aware of the giant pile of mush that Watson became every time he thought about Mary. Even though they'd only just met, and he barely even knew her. In his eyes, she wasn't so much a person as she was an angelically ideal vision of womanhood.

Another thing I noticed was that the racism even more cringe-worthy when read aloud. Christians could be trusted to keep their word, while Hindus were untrustworthy liars. Tonga was called a savage for killing people with poisoned darts in order to help the man who saved his life, whereas Jonathan Small was just a rough man who'd been wronged and carried a grudge. And I still can't believe Holmes couldn't see the logical fallacy in supposed cannibals killing with poisoned darts. Well, I suppose I can believe it, but it disappointed me nonetheless.

The main thing I liked about this audiobook was the narration. David Timson's voice worked well for both Watson and Holmes. I would gladly buy his narration of another one of the Sherlock Holmes stories.


The audiobook comes with a downloadable reference guide that includes a short essay about the story, English translations of the Holmes' few German and French remarks, and a list of the music used in the audio production.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Oct 24, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (106 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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First words
Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantelpiece, and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case.
"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.)
Disambiguation notice
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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Haiku summary
"A locked-room murder,
Priceless treasure? Business as
Usual, Watson!"

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:32 -0400)

(see all 6 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

Legacy Library: Arthur Conan Doyle

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23 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140439072, 0141034378, 0241952964

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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