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The Sign of Four (1890)

by Arthur Conan Doyle

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Sherlock Holmes (2)

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4,5851582,131 (3.77)279
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 sign of four."

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» See also 279 mentions

English (141)  Spanish (7)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Italian (1)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  All languages (154)
Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
I really liked this. It was much better than A Study in Scarlet. It was much more action packed and riveting. It was fast paced and the mystery was fascinating. The romance between Watson and Mary was a little odd but sweet enough. What we did see of Mary I liked. She seemed very intelligent and genuine. Holmes was much more like the later versions - brilliant and brutal with observations. He could be rather blunt and intense. I was surprised to see him using cocaine. I hadn't realised that Elementary (the tv show) had incorporated the original material when portraying Sherlock as an addict. And I'm sure it said somewhere in A Study in Scarlet about the unlikeliness of Holmes using drugs. Anyway overall fast paced mystery with some interesting twists. ( )
  funstm | Dec 1, 2022 |
interesting and engaging story ( )
  moazzima29 | Sep 11, 2022 |
The pages turned quickly enough, but the mystery lacked stakes and general intrigue. I had very little reason to care and the reveal didn’t make me care any more than I did at the start. Watson gets a wife out of it, and I like that personal character stuff, but there’s not much to remember in this one other than that or Sherlock’s cocaine habit.
  bobbybslax | Sep 6, 2022 |
To be honest, I feel kind of guilty to have enjoyed "The Sign of Four". During the first half of it, the novel was not nearly as good as "A Study in Scarlet", but then everything twisted and turned and tampered and I was basically so hooked I couldn't take this story down.

One advantage of Arthur Conan Doyle's writing in this novel has certainly been his decision not to include a random plot switch like he did in "A Study in Scarlet". The mystery's solution was actually told through John Watson's perspective rather than within a long-winded narrative about the murderer. Thus, the reader is able to follow Watson and Sherlock through the entirety of this novel, and yet ... the beginning was boring as hell. I know, I know. We had a murder. We had a treasure. We had Mary. We had John. We had Sherlock. But ... whew.

To explain my feelings about this book more precisely: The first half included a lot of different interesting aspects, e.g. Sherlock's explicit use of cocaine as well as his ways to explain why he takes it, and the introduction of Mary Morstan. But I couldn't get rid of the feeling to be alienated from Watson, as though it wasn't really possible to get inside his head and take a look not only at the murder case, but also at the interesting characters surrounding this case, namely Sherlock, John himself and Mary. I think I like Mary's TV version with the brilliant Amanda Abbington more, because Arthur Conan Doyle kept her character on a rather one-dimensional level. In addition, the fast-building romance between John and Mary was weird to witness as a reader, because John's behaviour seemed quite irrational and rash, even for him.

On the other side, Arthur Conan Doyle was able to write some breathtaking scenes, including a pursuit and an interesting perspective on the Indian Rebellion - but the plot was mostly foreseeable from the beginning of the second half on, so the story was never able to really surprise me.

In conclusion, it was a good novel and offered an enjoyable read, but no excellent one. ( )
  Councillor3004 | Sep 1, 2022 |
It’s Sherlock Holmes. What else is there to say?

I wonder what the reaction was, when this was first released, to Holmes 7% solution. Were people less shocked then by drug use? After all, the original coca-cola had cocaine as an ingredient and was sold by a pharmacist.

You have to remind yourself that this was cutting edge at its time, that Sherlock Holmes was not something well-known or predictable; he was a new creation. After all the reincarnations he has had, that is almost hard to imagine.

I did enjoy reading it, but can’t say I was bowled over.
( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (83 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Doyle, Arthur Conanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ackroyd, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clarke, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Del Buono , OresteContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freeman, MartinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fry, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gallone, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glinert, EdEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grinham, G.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gutschmidt, RichardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacobi, DerekNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kerr, Charles H.M.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Korhonen, JussiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Penzler, OttoIntroductionsecondary 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."
"Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth."
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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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Wikipedia in English (3)

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 sign of four."

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary
"A locked-room murder,
priceless treasure? Business as
usual, Watson!"

Legacy Library: Arthur Conan Doyle

Arthur Conan Doyle has a Legacy Library. Legacy libraries are the personal libraries of famous readers, entered by LibraryThing members from the Legacy Libraries group.

See Arthur Conan Doyle's legacy profile.

See Arthur Conan Doyle's author page.

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Average: (3.77)
0.5 2
1 9
1.5 1
2 62
2.5 17
3 356
3.5 104
4 575
4.5 35
5 253

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.

» Publisher information page

Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909175277, 1909175285

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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