Sign of the Four

Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. Sign of the Four: The Complete Sherlock Holmes. Vol. 1. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1930.

Reason read: in memory of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who died in July (1930).

Originally published in 1889, this is the second Sherlock Holmes mystery. We meet Dr. Watson’s future bride-to-be, Mary Morstan.
One of the most  prominent characteristics of Sherlock Holmes’s personality is his cheeky hubris, especially when he makes comments like, “Yes, I have been guilty of several monographs” (p 4), or “I cannot live without brainwork” (p 8). Aside from his ego, Holmes carries a sharp sense of reasoning and deduction and of course, the acute ability to draw unsuspecting witnesses out of their privacy, getting them to spill the beans by pretending to know everything they do already. An age-old police tactic.

To sum up the complicated mystery: it involves a secret pact between four criminals, a treasure and Mary Morstan. Mary’s father has been missing for ten years. He disappeared without a trace. Four years after his disappearance Mary started received a pearl a year from an unknown benefactor. Where’s rumor of a hidden treasure.

As an aside, it’s the sign of the times when I am shocked to read the details of Sherlock Holmes’s drug use – he’s shooting up cocaine on the opening page.

Author fact: Doyle’s full name is Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle.

Book trivia: This is the second Holmes mystery in the series.

BookLust Twist: sort of from Book Lust in the chapter called “I Love a Mystery” (p 123), but not really. Pearl lists The Complete Sherlock Holmes but tCSH is made up of four novels and 56 short stories. In all fairness I wanted to list them separately.



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