K.D. Absolutely's Reviews > The Sign of Four

The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
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Dec 31, 11

bookshelves: detective, series, guy-lit, classics
Recommended to K.D. by: Kristel
Read from December 30 to 31, 2011 — I own a copy, read count: 1

The Sign of Four (1890) means death. This is similar to seeing Black Spot in Stevenson's Treasure Island (1883). So, these Scottish novelists, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) and Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) have their own ways to depict imminent death, thereby warning their characters of danger, in their masterpieces. In the Philippines, this is similar to receiving an envelop with a black ribbon inside or worst, receiving a delivery of a coffin or mourning wreath. Believe me, I saw a wreath delivered to the lobby of the company I used to work with. It was from a lady who one of our male marketing managers ditched. The lobby turned funereal and caused extreme embarrassment to the manager that had no choice but to resign after a month.

This is the second novel of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It introduces the following: 1. Mary Morstan who in this novel ends up engaged with Dr. Watson and 2. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, i.e., Sherlock Holmes using cocaine three times a week to help him in doing his detective job. I was shocked to read about this but maybe at that time, using cocaine might not be prohibited yet. I also know for a fact that some people use drugs to help them in their life's pursuits. Think of the athletes and artists who need uppers to keep their energy going. Think of the scene in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut where the wealthy couple (played by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman) uses drugs together while inside their palatial home.

The plot is thicker than his first novel, A Study in Scarlet but not deep enough to draw any emotion from me. Also the big chunk of the story is told rather than showed. What I mean is that the characters narrate what happened instead of Sir Doyle bringing the reader to the scene. Again, this might be an acceptable even preferred style of storytelling at that time (and this is just my second Sherlock Holmes) so I am not complaining. This is just a matter of personal preference.

Overall, I liked the book. It is non-stop action even if the action is just spoken through recollection. The story is plausible and logical. Theme of greed may be as old as human beings (think of Cain slaughtering his brother Abel) but we still experience it everyday almost like the air we breathe. So any reader can relate to any novel bearing this as its theme.

The last book I finished in 2011. I have to read Sherlock Holmes stories now.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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jzhunagev Yes, I'm also planning to do a Sherlockian reading!
I'm just hoping that Fully Booked will be on sale so I can get my hands on the omnibus edition I've been eyeing.

Cheers Kuya and a Happy New Year!


K.D. Absolutely Thanks, Jzhun. I have to stop for a while with "Adventures" to give way to my George Orwell readings.


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