Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes, #2)” as Want to Read:
The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes, #2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes #2)

by
3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  59,700 Ratings  ·  2,477 Reviews
As a dense yellow fog swirls through the streets of London, a deep melancholy has descended on Sherlock Holmes, who sits in a cocaine-induced haze at 221B Baker Street. His mood is only lifted by a visit from a beautiful but distressed young woman - Mary Morstan, whose father vanished ten years before. Four years later she began to receive an exquisite gift every year: a l ...more
Paperback, 129 pages
Published July 5th 2001 by Penguin Classics (first published February 1890)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane AustenJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëWuthering Heights by Emily BrontëThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeCrime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Best Books of the 19th Century
71st out of 874 books — 4,817 voters
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieAngels & Demons by Dan BrownRebecca by Daphne du MaurierIn Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Best Crime & Mystery Books
168th out of 5,394 books — 11,991 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Stephen
Tsk, Tsk, Tsk...apparently that’s NOT tobacco Sherlock Holmes is smoking.
profilev3
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 cocaine as a cure for boredom?
Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantelpiece and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case. With his long, white, nervous fingers he adjusted
...more
Delee

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

 photo 233036a9-d07d-4451-b7f5-bec6fcec0c33_zpsu26vu9vj.jpg

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 lot of my fellow buddy readers felt like Holmes was a complete a-hole in this installment of the series.

It made me think- what exactly I swooned about regarding- Mr. Holmes since my youth? Would he really be my matc
...more
Jeff
Nov 04, 2015 Jeff rated it really liked it
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 introducing Holmes cocaine addiction. Something about keeping the grey matter active when he’s got nothing better to do than be annoying.



“Hey Sherlock, the first step is to admit you have a problem.”

“Hi, I’m Sher
...more
Anne
Sep 19, 2015 Anne rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Hardcore fans of Sherly
Oh, Holmes!
I still love you, but this was...not your best book, buddy.


description

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 was written in a different era) it was pretty cringe-worthy when dealing with race. Yep. Pretty much anyone who wasn't white was a snarling savage or a faithful servant.
So, yeah. Not very entertaining to
...more
Carmen
Mar 28, 2016 Carmen rated it it was amazing
"My mind," he said, "rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram, or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the daily routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it. I am the only one in the world."

The second Sherlock Holmes book opens and closes with cocaine.

For some little time h
...more
Dan Schwent
Sep 02, 2015 Dan Schwent rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
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 murder?

I read this with those scamps in the Non-crunchy Cool Classics group.

So, Sherlock Holmes. For years, Holmes has been akin to H.P. Lovecraft for me in that I'm a much bigger fan of the works they
...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”

description

3.5 stars: I initially rounded up to four stars, but only a week later, after reading The Hound of the Baskervilles, I could barely remember what this one was about. So I'm rounding it down now for being pleasant but forgettable.

In Sherlock Holmes' second outing with Dr. Watson, Sherlock explains that he needs to shoot up cocaine and morphine to add spice to his l
...more
Kemper
Nov 07, 2010 Kemper rated it it was ok
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 Victorian-era English arrogance, and I feel like flipping off any Holmes novel I see on the shelf when browsing a mystery section in a bookstore.

Holmes and his full-time professional kiss-ass Watson get hired
...more
Ɗắɳ  2.☠


Book two, Sherlock adds cocaine addiction to his list of proclivities. It seems the cases are few and far between, and his mind rebels at stagnation. He abhors the dull routine of day to day living, and requires some sort of mental stimulation. Dr. Watson, while highly annoyed, is still much too reserved to ever dare to take liberties. Watson tries to engage Holmes with a discussion of the pamphlet he’s written about their first case, “A Study in Scarlet.” But Holmes promptly dismisses it, and a
...more
Keith
Sep 10, 2011 Keith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably the best part of this book is that it begins and ends with Holmes shooting up cocaine because he's bored. I mean, that's just so damn dark, especially when A Study in Scarlet wasn't very dark at all.

Probably the worst part is struggling through all the rampant racism, which isn't nearly as funny as the rampant anti-Mormonism was in aSiS. The peg-leg jewel thief Jonathan Small (awesome) is assisted by a cannibal pygmy named Tonga (also awesome, but also horribly awful). I had to put it d
...more
Karly *The Vampire Ninja & Luminescent Monster*
2.5 Why Did This Take Me Three Months To Read?? Stars

Verdict: IT CRUNCHES! It crunches sooooooo bad!!

It almost never bodes well when a book that is this short takes me this long to read (The one exception is Donna Tartt’s Secret History which took me half a lifetime over a year to finish). And while I can’t say I dislike Doyle’s writing overall this short novel does basically nothing for me.



Incidentally, the instalove is STRONG with this one! Watson falls madly, deeply, entirely in love with Ma
...more
Becky
Dec 06, 2015 Becky rated it it was ok
Well alrighty then. Sherlock and Watson on the case again! I didn't really think that this case was all that interesting. I had hoped, in the beginning, that it would be a missing person case, but it quickly turned into a jewel heist case, and a pretty boring one at that. AND SO WORDY!

I do like Sherlock himself, condescending though he may be at times, and Watson... but then Watson had to go and ruin it by instaloving the first girl who talks to him. *sigh*

Anyway, I do want to continue this se
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Dec 31, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: Kristel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shayantani Das
Feb 05, 2012 Shayantani Das rated it liked it
My second Sherlock Holmes and I have to say, I am not really impressed.

The basic storyline goes like this: Sherlock has developed an addiction for cocaine; Watson is trying to cheer him up, up comes a mystery and everyone’s happy. Along with mystery comes lady; lady and Watson go gooey eyed; there is a treasure and there is a murder; there is disparaging remarks about pre independent India by the Brits; murderer is caught, mystery is solved; Watson gets hitched and Holmes gets back to cocaine.

D
...more
Christopher
Oct 02, 2015 Christopher rated it really liked it
September Buddy Read of the non-crunchy variety.

I listened to this as an audiobook from Bauer Audio (it's on Spotify).

The internet tells me that The Sign of Four contains 43,176 words. My pasting of the last chapter into a word counter tells me that it is 10,000 words by itself. The Sign of Four should be 33,000 words.

Like the previous book, there is an insane amount of backstory that does not involve any characters we care about. This book just tries to hide it by making a single chapter take u
...more
Terry
Dec 20, 2011 Terry rated it liked it
_The Sign of the Four_ isn't a bad mystery, but I didn't quite like it as much as _A Study in Scarlet_ or most of the stories in _The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes_. I'm starting to think, however, that these stories aren't always of interest because of the mystery itself (though sometimes they certainly are), but more because of the revelations they disclose about the character of Sherlock Holmes himself. Did you know that he had fought a prize fighter and won? I didn't before, but now I do. We ...more
Licha
Sep 04, 2015 Licha rated it did not like it
Shelves: classics, buddy-read
1.5 stars. I feel if I give this 2 stars I'd be lying to myself. I did not enjoy this book from the beginning. I tried keeping an open mind but try as I might, this was torture to finish. I found Sherlock to be a know it all, and not very likable. Every answer came too easily to him and frankly the mystery here was not interesting at all. I did like Watson, but felt like he looked too much to Sherlock for all the answers.

The Penguin's Classics edition I had (pictured) had very interesting end no
...more
Ginger *Protégée extraordinaire and Kool-Aid mixer*
This is going to be a very short 'review'. I always feel so inadequate 'reviewing' classics. (Apparently I have some sort of reviewer inferiority complex. Good thing I just do this for funzies.)

Watson has always been my favorite character. *cough*JudeLaw*cough*



I quite enjoyed his school boy hard crush on the sweet Mary,
Holmes nails it and the back story killed me again.

I am not sure what it is about Doyle's back stories but I do not enjoy them. I am normally one that enjoys getting deeper into t
...more
Sophie Narey (Bookreview- aholic)
Apr 20, 2016 Sophie Narey (Bookreview- aholic) rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of murder mystery
Shelves: books-i-own
Published: 1/10/2001 (first published 1890)
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle

ahh i love a good Sherlock Holmes book and this one does not disappoint. Expertly written by the brilliant Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, we get transported into the world of Sherlock Holmes, the way it is written makes you feel like you are there with the characters. I thought I had worked out who has done it....until the end when I realised how wrong I had been. An amazing book for fans of who done it books!
Some of the amazing cha
...more
Steve
Oct 14, 2013 Steve added it
The Sign of Four (1890) was the second volume in the Sherlock Holmes series, written by Arthur Conan Doyle three years after the first. So, one could not say that the demand for a sequel was overwhelming. Curiously enough, at the evening party the offer to publish such a sequel was made to Conan Doyle, the same magazine editor made an offer to Oscar Wilde for The Picture of Dorian Gray . That must have been a fairly interesting periodical.

The Sign of Four opens with the revelation that Holm
...more
Harini
The main reason I read this book is -

description

I have always been a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes and have read most of his works (unfortunately abridged versions during my school) but it is my latest addiction to BBC's 'Sherlock' that has made me want to pick this book up. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are so perfect as Sherlock and Watson. Anyways, this is supposed to be a book review and not how awesome Sherlock is.

I enjoyed this book more than the previous 'A Study in Scarlet' as there was no
...more
Councillor
To be honest, I feel kind of guilty to have enjoyed "The Sign of Four". During the first half of it, the novel was not nearly as good as "A Study in Scarlet", but then everything twisted and turned and tampered and I was basically so hooked I couldn't take this story down.

One advantage of Arthur Conan Doyle's writing in this novel has certainly been his decision not to include a random plot switch like he did in "A Study in Scarlet". The mystery's solution was actually told through John Watson's
...more
Luís Blue Yorkie
I am reading the Sherlock series in the same provision of many readers: chronologically.
In this second work (1890) we perceive a change in the narrative, with Watson describing the case more objectively, without that romanticized part of the investigation and the criminal report, as found in "A Study in Scarlet". Is assumed that as a Holmes recommendation for display cases.

The work begins apatically, with Sherlock bored by the lack of investigative work and something controversial that it is ju
...more
Kelly
Jan 04, 2010 Kelly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all Holmes fans, esp anyone with a soft spot for Watson
If you know me, you know what a sucker I am for any book that lets me feel like a character in a gothic novel just by listening to it. This particular book is awesome at that- even whilst I was walking in the ridiculous bitter cold to work listening to this, I could see the crackle of the fireplace and the smoke of the pipe, imagine myself looking out into a dark alley and shivering at the shadows illuminated by the flames. Atmospheric A+ for both ACD (okay now I really want him to have another ...more
Nandakishore Varma
Jan 27, 2016 Nandakishore Varma rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
I remember enjoying this the first time I read it: so I am letting the four stars stay.

As a mystery it is fast-paced and exciting, but it is a racist piece of trash all the same, which paints an orientalist portrait of India, and that too with major bloomers. I mean, can you imagine Sikhs with names like Mohammed Singh and Dost Akbar?

So this is a rare case where the star rating does not match the review.
Kristin ❋extols death with luminescent brilliance❋
September buddy-read with the non-crunchies

I'm really going to have to re-read #3 as if it is anything like these first two, I must have been smoking crank along with Holmes when I read it the first time. I mean, what in the hell?! Boring and tedious. Amazing that it has become so compelling over the years.
Ashley
Jan 11, 2016 Ashley rated it liked it
*Read this last year in a large bind up, but splitting it up into the individual stories to get it off my Currently Reading Shelf.
Kenchiin
Sep 19, 2015 Kenchiin rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic-mystery
Much better than the first one. Conan's writing is stunning.
Diane
This was the second novel featuring the great detective Sherlock Holmes. The plot is complex, involving a secret treasure, a one-legged man, the disappearance of Captain Morstan, whose daughter, Mary, asks Sherlock for help, and a strange note that read, "The Sign of Four."

The sections I enjoyed the most were the conversations between Sherlock and Dr. Watson, and Watson's romance with Miss Morstan. This is also the novel that introduces Sherlock's drug habit, which is amusing. And there is a th
...more
Cora Tea Party Princess
5 Words: Crime, classic, murder, mystery, love.

Yep, it gets better and better. Why ever did I wait so long to read the Sherlock Holmes books? I think one of those big, illustrated, hardback collection books will be on my birthday wishlist.

I liked how the story wasn't split in two as the first one was, and that it flowed a lot better.

I love how supremely confident Sherlock is in everything he does and says, and this book even made me chuckle a little.

And I loved how it all came to a close.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Adaptation mixed in with original author editions 2 20 Aug 05, 2015 11:53PM  
#AYEARATHON: The Sign of Four - Arthur Conan Doyle (SPOILERS) 3 14 Jul 09, 2015 07:18PM  
sherlock Holmes 3 31 Apr 22, 2015 11:38AM  
DumbleDORKS: A Sign of Four 15 52 Feb 16, 2015 10:26PM  
Purple Elephants ...: The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes) [May 2014]] 12 9 May 22, 2014 07:30PM  
Catching up on Cl...: The Sign of the Four #2 *SPOILERS* 20 29 May 02, 2014 06:03AM  
  • The Revenge of the Hound: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
  • The Sittaford Mystery
  • The Incredulity of Father Brown (Father Brown, #3)
  • Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes
  • Sherlock: The Casebook
  • The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Seventh Bullet (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)
  • The Poisoned Chocolates Case (Roger Sheringham Cases, #5)
  • The Mystery of the Yellow Room
  • A Study In Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes
  • The Vesuvius Club (Lucifer Box, #1)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery
  • The Secret Notebooks of Sherlock Holmes
  • Sherlock Holmes for Dummies
  • Lord Tony's Wife
2448
Arthur Conan Doyle was born the third of ten siblings on 22 May 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland. His father, Charles Altamont Doyle, was born in England of Irish descent, and his mother, born Mary Foley, was Irish. They were married in 1855.

Although he is now referred to as "Conan Doyle", the origin of this compound surname (if that is how he meant it to be understood) is uncertain. His baptism record
...more
More about Arthur Conan Doyle...

Other Books in the Series

Sherlock Holmes (9 books)
  • A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes, #1)
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes, #3)
  • The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes, #4)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sherlock Holmes, #5)
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes, #6)
  • The Valley of Fear (Sherlock Holmes, #7)
  • His Last Bow: 8 Stories (Sherlock Holmes, #8)
  • The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes, #9)

Share This Book



“My mind," he said, "rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.” 515 likes
“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” 202 likes
More quotes…