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The Sign of the Four

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Book Overview: 

The Sign of the Four is the second novel featuring Sherlock Holmes written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The story is set in 1887. The Sign of the Four has a complex plot involving service in East India Company, India, the Indian Rebellion of 1857, a stolen treasure, and a secret pact among four convicts ("the Four" of the title) and two corrupt prison guards. It presents the detective's drug habit and humanizes him in a way that had not been done in A Study in Scarlet. It also introduces Doctor Watson's future wife, Mary Morstan.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .India, and brought back with him a considerable sum of money, a large collection of valuable curiosities, and a staff of native servants. With these advantages he bought himself a house, and lived in great luxury. My twin-brother Bartholomew and I were the only children.

"I very well remember the sensation which was caused by the disappearance of Captain Morstan. We read the details in the papers, and, knowing that he had been a friend of our father's, we discussed the case freely in his presence. He used to join in our speculations as to what could have happened. Never for an instant did we suspect that he had the whole secret hidden in his own breast,—that of all men he alone knew the fate of Arthur Morstan.

"We did know, however, that some mystery—some positive danger—overhung our father. He was very fearful of going out alone, and he always employed two prize-fighters to act as porters at Pondicherry Lodge. Williams,. . . Read More

Community Reviews

(A-) 82% | Very Good
Notes: Better structured, with more character depth than its predecessor, but it feels like a short story padded into a novella.

Sherlock Holmes is bored, he hasn't had a new, interesting case in quite a while, no big deal you say? It is if the man is the notorious self- destructive detective, the best whoever was, (or will be) as his arm will clearly reveal....too many injections of mind - numbing drugs can testify to thi...more

Tsk, Tsk, Tsk...apparently that’s NOT tobacco Sherlock Holmes is smoking.

You have to love the daring Sir Arthur displayed in this novel vis-à-vis his iconic detective. How many writers would have the chutzpah to risk tarnishing the mystique of their signature creation by depicting him shooting...more

Greed is murderous!

This is the second book and also the second novel-length by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about the character of Sherlock Holmes

THE GREAT DETECTIVE RETURNS

The first thing that shocked me when I read the very first time this book was reading that Sherlock Holmes was using cocaine!

C...more

If you got bad news
You want to kick them blues
Cocaine.
When your day is done and you got to run
Cocaine.
If your thing is gone and you want to ride on
Cocaine.
Don't forget this fact
You can't get back
Cocaine.

Remind me again what you’re singing about, J.J. Cale?

Doyle doesn’t waste any time in introduci...more

September buddy-read with The Non-Crunchy Classics Funky Bunch.

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Sex, Marry, Kill...

For some reason when reading THE SIGN OF FOUR- that fun- little, messed up game- kept popping into my head.

Maybe...partly...because this is the book that Watson falls in loooooove...and partly because a...more

Sherlock Holmes sets aside his cocaine addiction for a case. A young woman has been receiving pearls in the mail once a year for four years and now has a chance to meet her mysterious benefactor. Can Holmes and Watson figure out what's really going on without being ensnared in a web of deceit and...more

Oh, Holmes!
I still love you, but this was...not your best book, buddy.

Hmm. Ok, now I remember why I never really read the full-length Sherlock stories very much, and usually preferred to stick with the shorties.
This was kinda...*cough* dull. And really hard to get through. Plus, (and I know it...more

“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”

I initially went 3.5 stars and rounded up to four, but only a week later, after reading The Hound of the Baskervilles, I could barely remember what this one was ab...more

Despite being a huge crime/mystery reader, I’ve never been a big fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories. After recently reading A Study in Scarlet and now The Sign of Four, I realize that it’s not me to blame. It’s Holmes. He’s just too much of an obnoxious show-off for me to like. Add in some Victor...more

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