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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely gripping!
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...
Published on May 14 2004 by Kurt A. Johnson

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Sounds like it would be enchanting.
"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...
Published 11 months ago by Carolyn


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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely gripping!, May 14 2004
By 
Kurt A. Johnson (North-Central Illinois, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: The Sign of the Four (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 The science of deduction embodied in one man., Aug. 5 2003
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. "It is of the first importance not to allow your judgment to be biased by personal qualities ... The emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning." In this story Watson finds himself a wife, something Holmes would never consider: "...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." Fortunately we need not share Holme's cold and emotionless tastes to love him, because we are involved in the story through the first person narrative of Watson, who has more than enough emotion and romance to make up for what Holmes lacks. Watson is a brilliant literary device for Doyle, because it enables us to portray Holmes with his cold logic without having to identify with him. Instead we identify with Watson as passive observers and view Holmes himself as a curious object to be marvelled at.
We need not identify with Holmes to appreciate his passion for deduction. In "The Sign of Four" Holmes applies his powers of deduction to a remarkable case involving Mary Morstan, whose father disappeared under mysterious circumstances some ten years earlier. Investigation uncovers the facts of his death, and the suprising discovery that he has bequeathed her a tremendous treasure. The plot thickens as the treasure disappears along with a classic locked-room murder mystery. Mysterious notes with "The Sign of Four" seem to be the only clue to the mystery. Of course only Holmes can and does unravel the mystery, even when all the other police detectives are desperately misled by both clues and lack of reason. As usual Holmes will cooperate with them, but only on his terms: "You are welcome to all the official credit, but you must act on the lines that I point out."
As with "A Study in Scarlet", we're again introduced to the elements that typify a Sherlock Holmes story. Holmes utilizes "the unofficial force - the Baker Street irregulars" to help him. They consist of a dozen dirty and ragged little street Arabs, whom Holmes pays in return for information gleaned from the streets. "They can go everywhere, see everything, overhear everyone." Holmes also utilizes the power of disguise, which he expertly uses to even pull the wool over the eyes of his companion Watson. But "The Sign of Four" also gives a glimpse of Holmes' weakness - an addiction to morphine and cocaine. The justification is that he only resorts to the use of drugs when he is not busy with a case. "My mind rebels at stagnatism." "Hence the cocaine. I cannot live without brainwork." He much prefers the mental challenge of a case "...it would prevent me from taking a second dose of cocaine." But just as Holme's intellectual brilliance stimulates himself, so it stimulates the reader. In the process of his deductions, he evidences an astute understanding of people, articulating gems like this: "The chief proof of man's real greatness lies in his perception of his own smallness." On carefully asking people the right questions: "The main thing with people of that sort is never to let them think that their information can be of the slightest importance to you. If you do they will instantly shut up like an oyster." On women: "Women are never to be entirely trusted - not the best of them." And as with most mysteries, as readers we are reminded of what lengths the passions of greed and revenge will go in corrupting human behaviour.
As in all the Sherlock Holmes stories, Holmes himself unquestionably emerges the hero. However, Doyle had not yet perfected the Sherlock Holmes formula, because in the lengthy extended flashback of the final chapter as the murderer describes his story Holmes himself falls to the background. The truth is, we want more of Holmes and his deduction, and that's what Doyle perfected in his later short stories. But if deduction is indeed a science as Holmes believes, then he himself is its greatest scientist, and there are few pleasures greater than seeing this enigmatic scientist at work in the laboratory of life. -GODLY GADFLY
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sink your teeth into this book, Jan. 14 2003
Ce commentaire est de: Dracula (Paperback)
I put off reading Dracula for awhile after a friend told me, "It's not at all like the (1931) movie, it's just a bunch of boring journal entries."
How wrong they were. And I'm sorry I waited so long to find that out.
The interweaving of the narratives, sometimes skipping back a day or two to have one character's perspective "catch up" to another's was masterfully done. No sooner is one moment of suspense reached than we switch to someone else's current adventure, and the tension starts building all over again.
Some people think that the book wanders away from the action too much, but I didn't find that to be a problem. The characters and atmosphere are so well written that any "background" information blends well into the plot itself.
The only thing I found that slowed me down a bit was Van Helsing's broken English. However, once I got used to his style of speaking, it wasn't much of a hinderance to the pace.
One aspect of the book that I especially appreciated is the fact that Mina Murray Harker is such a strong character. In the (1931) movie, she mostly looks winsome and cries. In this novel, she's a much bigger part of the action, actively participating in the mission to destroy Count Dracula even as she falls under his spell herself.
I'm glad I finally read this book and had the opportunity to experience "Dracula" as its author intended the story to be told.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Murder, Mystery and Treasure!, May 1 2002
By 
Peter Tevis (Mercer Island, WA United States) - See all my reviews
A classic Holmes novel, this book is perhaps one of Sherlock's most puzzling mysteries. As told by Dr. Watson, this mystery may have been one of Holmes's toughest cases yet.
As Sherlock is injecting cocaine into his blood system, he sits down with placid relief, until there is a knock at the door. In enters the beautiful Mary Morstan, whom Watson immediately takes a fancy to. While Watson observes her beauty, Holmes observes her problem. It seems that she is a rather middle-class woman, with style and father in the military, who is currently stationed in India. He had recently wrote to her saying that he would come to visit. However, he never showed up when she went to pick him up. That was ten years ago. But starting six years ago, four years after his disappearance, Miss Morstan had been receiving mysterious packages containing pearls of great value, one a year. Having been contacted by her mysterious complimentor, should she go and meet him? Or should she stay home? The truth lies with in the book.
This book is a triumph for the celebrated novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and I believe that many people would enjoy this book. Just to be specific, it would mainly be for people who are in the age group of around: 13 or older, and also those who are fond of the mystery novels and thrillers and anyone who could use a good book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Murder, Mystery and Treasure!, April 29 2002
By 
Peter Tevis (Mercer Island, WA United States) - See all my reviews
A classic Holmes novel, this book is perhaps one of Sherlock's most puzzling mysteries. As told by Dr. Watson, this mystery may have been one of Holmes's toughest cases yet.
As Sherlock is injecting cocaine into his blood system, he sits down with placid relief, until there is a knock at the door. In enters the beautiful Mary Morstan, whom Watson immediately takes a fancy to. While Watson observes her beauty, Holmes observes her problem. It seems that she is a rather middle-class woman, with style and father in the military, who is currently stationed in India. He had recently wrote to her saying that he would come to visit. However, he never showed up when she went to pick him up. That was ten years ago. But starting six years ago, four years after his disappearance, Miss Morstan had been receiving mysterious packages containing pearls of great value, one a year. Having been contacted by her mysterious complimentor, should she go and meet him? Or should she stay home? The truth lies with in the book.

This book is a triumph for the celebrated novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and I believe that many people would enjoy this book. Just to be specific, it would mainly be for people who are in the age group of around: 13 or older, and also those who are fond of the mystery novels and thrillers and anyone who could use a good book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loyalty, Betrayal, Revenge, and Romance, May 20 2001
By 
George R Dekle "Bob Dekle" (Lake City, FL United States) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: The Sign of the Four (Hardcover)
A fabulous treasure dogged by murder. A trans-racial oath of loyalty. A greedy major, a cannibal pigmy, and a peg-legged convict. Mix in a pig-headed police investigator and a brilliant-but-flawed amateur detective, and you have the makings of a first-class mystery.
Miss Mary Morstan, the recipient of yearly gifts of pearls from an anonymous benefactor, receives a summons declaring her a wronged woman and promising riches if she replies. She enlists the aid of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, and finds herself in the middle of a locked-room murder mystery. If the mystery can only be solved, she will become the richest woman in England.
Holmes, in a virtuoso performance, solves the murder, finds the missing treasure, brings the killer to justice, and learns the strange tale of "The Four." Did I mention that Dr. Watson winds up married to Miss Morstan?
The format of this sequel to "A Study in Scarlet" follows basically the same pattern as the original Sherlock Holmes story. Holmes visits the scene of a baffling murder, draws amazing conclusions from his inspection of the scene, and relentlessly tracks down the villian, who then tells his story and turns out to be not such a bad guy after all.
I first read "Scarlet" and "Sign" as a pre-teenager, and they made an indelible impression on me. In my job I frequently visit murder scenes, and I believe that these two books are what have influenced me to perform inspections outside the crimescene tape.
An earlier reviewer remarked on Doyle's "politically incorrect" view of India. "The Sign of the Four" was written at the turn of the 19th century. We live in the 21st. We probably won't measure up to the 23rd century's yardstick for "political correctness" either.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The second sherlock holmes's novel, April 5 2003
By 
Khalifa Alhazaa "a_mathematician" (Doha, Qatar) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In this second novel of Sherlock Holmes's Dr John Watson continues introducing the world to the singular methods of his strange friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
He starts the book with a study in deduction, looses his temper, and then cools down at Holmes's explanations. Then a singular customer appears in the stage with a strange case. This case leads to a terrific murder with outlandish murderers.
As usual, Watson, as dumb as a frog, cannot see a thing that his friend Holmes, as cleaver as a fox, can spot so easily.
The story here is a bit slow, especially in the capture of the villains, but it ends in a thrilling manhunt, and then in an unearthly account of the major villain.
This novel, in my opinion, is the best Sherlock Holmes's ever written by Doyle. I think any Holmes's fan must read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dover makes Dracula accessible to the masses, Nov. 12 2000
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Ce commentaire est de: Dracula (Paperback)
Dover's thrift editions are always nice for getting classroom sets for teachers trying to make do with having no money and still trying to provoke their students in reading and learning. "Dracula" is not traditional classroom fare, with "Frankenstein" a more traditional choice since it deals with humans doing things they were not meant to do. But Stoker's vampire novel can still provoke some intriguing classroom discussions over the use of different first person narratives, the elements of horror, and the willinging suspension of disbelief. Given all the variations on Dracula in films, it may well be worthwhile to talk about the range of interpretation versus being faithful to an author's original vision. For some classes, this might be worth a shot and Dover makes it economically feasible.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Tapers off at the end, Jan. 11 2004
By 
Roger Long "longrush" (Port Clinton, OH USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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 story on a page: The Sign of the Four review, Jan. 30 2010
Ce commentaire est de: The Sign of the Four (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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Dracula
Dracula by Bram Stoker (Paperback - April 18 2000)
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