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The Sign of Four (1890)

by Arthur Conan Doyle

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,9751712,175 (3.76)294
Classic Literature. Fiction. Literature. HTML:

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. 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 audiobook includes the bonus Sherlock Holmes story "The Red-Headed League."

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» See also 294 mentions

English (155)  Spanish (8)  Italian (2)  French (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (170)
Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
The second novella recounting the exploits of Sherlock Holmes shares a peculiar structural feature with the first, A Study in Scarlet: a tale within the tale. The second, told at length by the freshly apprehended culprit, is the crime behind the crime, the reason why he intrepidly executed vengeance. This doesn’t free him of guilt for the fresher crime, nor does he expect it to, but it casts what has been done in a softer light.
The earlier crime occurs elsewhere — exotic locales like the Utah territory and the Indian subcontinent.
Not that any of this impresses Holmes. At the end of the tale of the Agra treasure, he only remarks to the wooden-legged Jonathan Small about the more recent crime: “You brought your own rope. That I did not know.”
A second shared feature, more prominently on display here than in the first book, is the blithe racist remarks. Watson, who records the Holmes cases, unreflectingly shares the prejudices of his day and sees the world, or at least its population, in strictly black-and-white terms. The blacks include the inhabitants of India, whose revolt against their imperial masters seems incomprehensible.
I don’t suggest that the Holmes canon be subjected to the same mutilation that Dahl and others are undergoing. This book reflects the attitudes of London 1890; let it stand.
This is particularly true because the tale subverts its own racial attitudes in a way that escapes Watson and may have also escaped Doyle. “The Four” of the title are four men who have been cheated. Small is one; the other three are Sikhs. These four hold faith with each other. They are robbed of their (stolen) treasure by a white man, a British officer, no less.
Book banners might also want to know that the book opens with Holmes injecting himself with a seven percent solution of cocaine. Reading this for the first time as an impressionable thirteen-year-old didn’t turn me into an intravenous drug user. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Feb 23, 2024 |
A tale of greed, betrayal, and the brilliance of deduction in the heart of Victorian London. ( )
  bunniex | Feb 22, 2024 |
The 2nd story immediately introduces Holmes's needle dependence on cocaine, which he uses when overcome with ennui at the absence of a case to solve. One finally comes in the form of Mary Morstan (Watson's future wife), and we are taken to the outskirts of London, to flashbacks in India, and on a suspenseful boat chase down the Thames, all while viewing the negative effects of Victorian social status and colonialism. #whataride ( )
  crabbyabbe | Feb 18, 2024 |
A classic story with all the memes, a lost treasure, a "hideous" face in the window, a carriage chase, high speed pursuit on the Thames and so on. This is the story that introduces Toby the super-sniffing dog. Sherlock's disturbing cocaine habit is featured.
Read for the British Authors Challenge
audiobook 1/28/2024 ( )
  catseyegreen | Jan 28, 2024 |
Hired by a young lady, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson investigate the strange recent deaths of her missing father's friends from the army, as well as the whereabouts of the Great Mogul, the second-largest diamond in the world.

The Sign of the Four (1890), also called The Sign of Four , is the second novel featuring Sherlock Holmes by British writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It's themes deal with evil, justice, Victorian fear, empire and imperialism. The Sign of the Four has a complex plot involving service in India, the Indian Mutiny of 1857, a stolen treasure, and a secret pact among four convicts ("the Four" of the title) and two corrupt prison guards.

The Sign of the Four is an improvement over A Study in Scarlet, and is preceded by one of the best in the canon, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The Sign of the Four is a complex mystery that features more of what we love about Sherlock and Watson (Sherlock's cunning, cold deductions, Watson's emotions and wonderment) yet it's language can be quite dated and the mystery is almost too much of a labyrinth. Still a worthwhile read though!



( )
  ryantlaferney87 | Dec 8, 2023 |
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» Add other authors (71 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Doyle, Arthur Conanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ackroyd, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clarke, DavidNarratorsecondary 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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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."
"Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth."
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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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Wikipedia in English (3)

Classic Literature. Fiction. Literature. HTML:

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. 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 audiobook includes the bonus Sherlock Holmes story "The Red-Headed League."

.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary
"A locked-room murder,
priceless treasure? Business as
usual, Watson!"
(passion4reading)

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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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

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909175277, 1909175285

 

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