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Sign of 4 4D [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Arthur Conan Doyle , David Timson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 2003
"The Sign of Four, Arthur Conan Doyle's second novel about the exploits of Sherlock Holmes, first appeared in England and the U.S. in "Lippincott Magazinein February 1890. "The Sign of Fourbrings Mary Morstan, a beautiful young governess, to the home of consulting detective Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. Mary's father, an officer in the British Forces who had served as a prison guard in India, disappeared the day he returned to England six years earlier - while en route to meet his daughter. One year to the day after Captain Morstan's disappearance, Miss Morstan received a small box containing a lustrous pearl. No return address, no note, just the jewel. On each successive anniversary over the next several years another pearl arrived from her unknown benefactor. Determined to uncover the story behind the elder Morstan's disappearance, and the meaning behind the mysterious jewels, the trio set out on an exotic adventure laced with stolen treasure, secret oaths and murder, culminating in a breath-taking chase down the Thames.

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Review

"In this erudite and provocative edition, Shafquat Towheed offers fans of both Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle an intricate account of the intertextual histories at the heart of The Sign of Four. Arguing for the inextricability of its colonial plots with its work as detective fiction, Towheed builds a persuasive case for The Sign of Four as Mutiny fiction, positioning it as pivotal to the imperial career of 'British' fiction per se. Readers of this edition will be gripped by the colonial pathways Towheed reveals, the politics of citation he uncovers, and the entanglement of home and empire he tracks in the making of the novel. This is postcolonial interpretation at its very best." (Antoinette Burton) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Arthur Conan Doyle's second Sherlock Holmes novel is both a detective story and an imperial romance. Ostensibly the story of Mary Morstan, a beautiful young woman enlisting the help of Holmes to find her vanished father and solve the mystery of her receipt of a perfect pearl on the same date each year, it gradually uncovers a tale of treachery and human greed. The action audaciously ranges from penal settlements on the Andaman Islands to the suburban comfort of South London, and from the opium-fuelled violence of Agra Fort during the Indian 'Mutiny' to the cocaine-induced contemplation of Holmes' own Baker Street. This Broadview Edition places Doyle's tale in the cultural, political, and social contexts of late nineteenth-century colonialism and imperialism. The appendices provide a wealth of relevant extracts from hard-to-find sources, including official reports, memoirs, newspaper editorials, and anthropological studies. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantelpiece and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought for Intro Dec 11 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've already read the Sherlock Holmes stories, but after watching Sherlock on BBC with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.
The intro by Martin Freeeman, adds a new spark to these wonderful mystery stories.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Sounds like it would be enchanting. Nov. 17 2013
By Carolyn TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
"The Sign Of Four", 1890, isn't what I imagined; with no lack of delight in an extraordinary change of pace similar to "A Study In Scarlet. I ignored the distasteful opening and closing statements about Sherlock liking cocaine. However I inferred from the title an exciting mystery that would have us deciphering a code, an ancient language, some environment with a great deal more ambiance than what we find. A journey perhaps into the cave of a foreign land; made by the protagonists in their present day.

Like Arthur Conan Doyle's first novel, a culprit divulges in retrospect; a past obviously at a distance from our protagonists. It is only there that treasure-hunting or foreign travel make a detached appearance. The "four" has no exotic meaning. It merely enumerates the original quest-makers. Sherlock, John, and a borrowed dog do nothing more than try to locate a murderer on foot. They derisively presume they'll do better than the London police. Because there is really nothing more to it, nor was there any danger or personal urgency for this pedestrian investigating party; I didn't feel any suspense whatsoever.

That's a pity because the present day tale held promise. A lovely lady hires the roommates to find her Father. I like that Sherlock admires the astuteness of the clues she deems important enough to bring. She has cryptically been receiving an expensive pearl by mail for years. She is certain it is a form of compensation for her Father's part in a treasure; of minor importance against knowing what happened to him. These are the makings of an extraordinary adventure, a ball that was regretfully dropped. It is the earliest portions that are a little bit enchanting. I always manage to admire the originality of the stories and the absolutely impeccable, lyrical writing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars story on a page: The Sign of the Four review Jan. 30 2010
By ninefly
Format:Paperback
review of: audio book read by John Telfer

I'm glad that Mr. Doyle has understood that audiences did not much enjoy the 5 chapters of criminal exposition (from the first book) as much when Holmes is not there to deduce the hell out of stuff. This second novel of the Sherlock Holmes series delves further into the personal lives of both Holmes and Watson, yet maintains the quality of plot and pacing that the first book had offered.

for a more in-depth review, please visit my blog (linked in profile)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely gripping! May 14 2004
Format:Audio Cassette
In this, the second Sherlock Holmes story written by Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes is called upon by a young lady who needs the great detective's help with a mystery. However, when this mystery leads to murder, Holmes must seek to uncover secrets that have lain hidden for many years, and have their roots in treacheries upon treacheries in far-off India. There's a one-legged man who is at the center of this mystery, and he has a murderous friend who may just be the end of Sherlock Holmes!
As I said, this is the second ever Sherlock Holmes story, written in 1890. As with the very best of the Holmes story, this one is absolutely gripping, carrying a fascinating story with mysteries wrapped up in mysteries that only Mr. Holmes can possibly conquer. As an added bonus, in this story, we get to learn about Dr. Watson's meeting of his true love, and his eventual marriage - which should end some rumors that people spread.
Yep, this is a great story, one that is sure to please any fan of mysteries, and is certain to delight any Sherlock Holmes fan!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Tapers off at the end Jan. 11 2004
Format:Paperback
The first two-thirds of this short novel are ripe with the foggy atmosphere of Victorian London, as Holmes and Watson seek to help the pretty young client secure her legacy, a trunk filled with stolen jewels. But the thief-murderer duo are apprehended long before the end, and the last part is his rather mundane account of how the jewels were stolen in India and life at the prison on the Andaman Islands. There's actually very little "mystery" or detection to it, since we know who the thief-murderer are early on. The boat chase on the Thames is not especially interesting or convincing, nor is the romance between Dr. Watson and the pretty client. What saves this is the almost palpable atmosphere of London in the time of Jack the Ripper, plus the outrageous conclusions drawn by Sherlock Holmes.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The science of deduction embodied in one man. Aug. 5 2003
Format:Paperback
Published in 1890, "The Sign of Four" was Doyle's second work, featuring the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes. The first chapter is appropriately titled "The Science of Deduction", and serves as a wonderful introduction to the enigmatic man and his methods. Holmes asserts that there are "three qualities necessary for the ideal detective", namely knowledge, the power of observation, and the power of deduction. Holmes' abilities at observation are superb, as evidenced by some of the books he's produced on obscure topics like the tracing of footsteps, the influence of a trade on the form of a hand, or the enumeration of 140 forms of cigar, cigarette and pipe tobacco ash. He is careful to distinguish mere observation from clear deductive reasoning, and it is the latter which really is the essence of Holmes. To him the only thing that is important is "the curious analytical reasoning from effects to causes" by which he unravels a case. Already in the opening, he demonstrates his powers of deduction by coming to stunning and perfectly logical conclusions about Watson's brother, merely by seeing his watch. What is obscure to everyone, is of course perfectly obvious to Holmes: "so absurdly simple that an explanation is superfluous." He is the epitomy of deduction and cold hard reason.
While Holmes is the embodiment of reason, Watson is the embodiment of emotion. Holmes is naturally critical of the emotional and romantic streak in Watson. "Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner." When Watson comments on the attractiveness of Holmes' client, he replies "Is she? I did not observe." Completely deprived of emotion, he looks not at beauty, but at cold hard facts.
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