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The Sign of the Four (Sherlock Holmes #2)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  73,288 Ratings  ·  3,173 Reviews
The Sign of the Four (1890), also called The Sign of Four, is the second novel featuring Sherlock Holmes written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle wrote four novels and 56 stories starring the fictional detective. The story is set in 1888. The Sign of the Four has a complex plot involving service in East India Company, India, the Indian Rebellion of 1857, a stolen treasure, ...more
Published 2005 by (first published 1890)
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Uluwehi Hopkins He hit his head in the corner of a box when he confronted Shorto about the treasure. He died, and they covered it up to avoid involving the police.
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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 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
Henry Avila
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 this horrible fact, the ugly scars. The worried Dr. Watson fears for the health of his best friend...unable to prevent it, he knows Holmes brain needs constant stimulation otherwise, the inevitable decline ...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 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 real
Aug 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hardcore fans of Sherly
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 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
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you got bad news
You want to kick them blues
When your day is done and you got to run
If your thing is gone and you want to ride on
Don't forget this fact
You can't get back

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
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?”


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 about. It's mostly 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 life (apparently these we
Dan Schwent
Aug 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
"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
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes #2), Arthur Conan Doyle
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ژانویه سال 1999 میلادی
عنوان: نشانه چهار؛ نویسنده: آرتور کانن دویل؛ مترجم: مژده دقیقی؛ تهران، شهر کتاب هرمس ( کارآگاه )؛ 1378؛ در سیزده و 164 ص؛ شابک: 9646641857؛ چاپ دوم 1385؛ چاپ چهارم 1391؛ شابک: 9789646641853؛ چاپ پنجم 1392؛
داستان « نشانه چهار » همراه با داستان دره وحشت؛ در 434 ص از همین مترجم در همین انتشارانی در سال 1388 با شابک 9789643636197 نیز چاپ شده است
گراهام گرین گفته: دهساله بودم که نشانه چهار را خواندم، آن
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,
Aug 08, 2011 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
Karly *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*
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
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
SH: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

JW: “Good Lord, Holmes! You just said something iconic! I shall have to write this down. Say that again? “When the what is impossible, and what do you do afterward?”

Nah! Watson never said that.

The Sign of Four (originally titled “The Sign of the Four”, I suppose that is one “The” too many, so the publisher dropped one) begins with Holmes shooting cocaine out of boredom and then proceeding to hu
Ann (Little Bear) Baratheon
"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

After some consideration, I'm giving the second Sherlock Holmes story 3 stars (maybe a 3.33-3.5 or so, if we're being nit-picky). While the first, A Study in as Scarlett utterly blew me away and captivated me completely, The Sign was good, but in time, forgettable.

Also, it was pretty racist. But I'm not gonna get into that.

I don't think that being forgettable is totally a bad thing, really. This
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
K.D. Absolutely
Dec 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Kristel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shayantani Das
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.

_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
Sep 01, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mohammed Arabey
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much Better than book one, the characters get Richer, deeper and much funnier.

And full review to come.
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary Morstan has been receiving large pearls in the mail from an unknown source since her father's death. She contacts Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson after she receives a letter to meet with an anonymous person to right an injustice done to her. An unusual man, Thaddeus Sholto, tells the trio that Mary is one of the heirs to a treasure. As they go to meet with a Sholto family member, they come upon a murder victim in a locked room.

The plot is complex with elements of the crook's confession going
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
Apr 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars!

Another great mystery with Sherlock Holmes doing his magic and blowing everyone’s mind!

The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was not as suspenseful to me as other Sherlock Holmes books, but it had some action sequences, romance for Watson, and that made up for it.

The plot centers on a great treasure, a set of brothers, and a beautiful woman Watson quickly falls madly in love with. As usual, the police look like a bunch of lumbering idiots next to Holmes. They crawl back to him for
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2017 Popsugar reading challenge #47 A book with an eccentric character

Sir Arthur lo hizo de nuevo. Sherlock lo hizo de nuevo. Ay, yo no sé cómo es que en estos libros los casos más enrevesados y quizá indescifrables parecen cosa de niños desde el punto de vista de Holmes. Disfruto mucho sus maneras tan sencillas de deducir las cosas y de tratar con Watson y todos los demás personajes que aparecen en la historia. Es tan divertido e interesante a la vez que me resultan demasiado cortos los capítul
Nandakishore Varma
Sep 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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
Dec 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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 about Arthur Conan Doyle...

Other Books in the Series

Sherlock Holmes (10 books)
  • A Study in Scarlet
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Valley of Fear
  • His Last Bow: 8 Stories
  • The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
  • Os Planos do Submarino Bruce-Partington * O Pé do Diabo * A Caixa de Papelão (O Último Adeus de Sherlock Holmes)

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“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.” 611 likes
“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” 266 likes
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