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The Sign of Four: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery Paperback – Feb 7 2011
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Perhaps the greatest of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries is this: that when we talk of him we invariably fall into the fancy of his existence -- T. S. Eliot --This text refers to the Mass Market 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 an alternate Paperback edition. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Holmes, Watson, and Mary set up a meeting with Thaddeus Sholto. He was the son of her father’s best friend, Major John Sholto. He confirms that his father had met with Morstan on the night he died. They had quarreled over treasure Sholto had brought back from India. Sholto confesses to his two twin sons, Thaddeus and Bartholomew, that he’d murdered Morstan. Before giving them the location of the treasure, they were purposefully distracted. When they returned to their father, he’d been killed. A note was left upon him, “The Sign of Four”.
This is the second novel of Sherlock Holmes written by Arthur Conan Doyle and published in 1890. It is the first which details Sherlock Holmes use of cocaine, or as he would put it, his seven percent solution. I felt the pace in this full-length story tapered off mid-way, but picked back up toward the end. As always, I enjoyed Holmes’ powers of deduction. The story is more convoluted than A Study in Scarlet. The contemporary adage of ‘follow the money’ seems to have been just as true in the late 1800’s as it is today.
The intro by Martin Freeeman, adds a new spark to these wonderful mystery stories.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Great storyline and plot. If you're a Sherlock Holmes fan this book will not disappoint .Published 21 months ago by muntaqim
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... Read more
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. Read morePublished on May 14 2004 by Kurt A. Johnson
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... Read morePublished on Jan. 11 2004 by Roger Long
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. Read morePublished on April 5 2003 by Khalifa Alhazaa
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. Read morePublished on May 1 2002 by Peter Tevis
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. Read morePublished on April 29 2002 by Peter Tevis