Shayantani Das's Reviews > The Sign of Four

The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
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Feb 03, 2012

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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.

Did I mention I am not getting any more impressed?

Not loosing hope, though. I still plan on reading the rest of the series; all I am doing is rethinking the comments I made in my last review. Kill me if you want to, but I consider Agatha Christie’s mysteries faar more superior. Of course, I haven’t read all the works of either author, but still.

The popularity and acclaim the series has gathered must be because of Sherlock Holmes himself, his tactics, his brilliance, his haughty, unfeeling and a tad vain attitude. Who can not love such a character.

Anyway, hopping off to see the BBC series Mith has been raving about. I will come back to the books after watching the first episode. :D
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Reading Progress

February 3, 2012 – Started Reading
February 3, 2012 – Shelved
February 5, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Siddharth (last edited Feb 05, 2012 05:48AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Siddharth It gets better. The short-stories are in a class of their own, and are all distinctive. The Hound Of The Baskervilles is a superb novel. Don't expect AC-style whodunits though.


message 2: by Nandakishore (last edited Feb 05, 2012 06:07AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nandakishore Varma IMO, The Sign of Four is the weakest of the four novels. His idea of India is typical of the Englishman on the street-another author who writes the same kind of nonsense about India is Edgar Rice Burroughs.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is the creepiest and the best. I had the fortune to visit Dartmoor and stay for a night in a village, also to visit the Dartmoor Museum, which was the inn Conan Doyle stayed in to write the novel. The moors are very windy and creepy, and it is not hard to imagine a hound howling for blood.


Shayantani Das Nandakishore wrote: " His idea of India is typical of the Englishman on the street-another author who writes the same kind of nonsense about India is Edgar Rice ..."

It’s good to know that I am not the only one bothered by it. I thought I was being too sentimental.
Yours and Siddharth’s comments are making me rethink my resolve. Maybe I will read a few short stories before seeing the series. Eagerly looking forward to The Hound Of The Baskervilles.


message 4: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana You have to watch the BBC interpretation of Sherlock!


Nandakishore Varma Tanu wrote: "It’s good to know that I am not the only one bothered by it. I thought I was being too sentimental..."

Oh, I'm not bothered nowadays. In fact, it's funny, the extent of their ignorance about India. The "Sikh" soldiers in The Sign of Four all have Muslim names (in fact, one is named "Dost Akbar", can you imagine??? ): similarly, the lecherous "Hindoo" in Tarzan the Invincible is called Raghunath Jafar!


Akash Makkar Nandakishore,
I agree with you that the depiction of Subcontinent characters was stereotypical,especially the depiction of Andaman native,Tonga, but I don't agree with you that it's the weakest.I think this was better than the first novel.For me it was somewhat predictable,that might be because I've seen many similar stories in B grade movies,but the fact the novel was was written about 120 years ago compelled me to give it a high rating.

It might be a cliche now,but I don't think it was one about 120 years ago.


Nandakishore Varma Akash,

Personally, I'd rate A Study in Scarlet slightly above this book. But only just.


K.D. Absolutely I was not impressed by this too but I still liked it considering that he was honest into admitting that he used coccaine!

I liked "A Study in Scarlett" better.


message 9: by Larry (last edited Dec 31, 2014 10:09PM) (new)

Larry Mendonca Well, i don't think being judgmental over just two books is a fair thing to do. I havent read this book but i have read the other 3 Novels and the 56 short stories. That pretty much covers the entire works of Conan Doyle on Sherlock Holmes.
The short stories best portray the method of deduction used by Sherlock. I think you would have a different opinion if you read them. The series in totality is a class apart.You cant draw parallels between Christie's and Conan Doyle's books.

I like both the Authors works by the way. Each are distinct in their own way. I liked the Poirot series and a few others of Chritie's works . I haven't read all of them though. While certain works of Agatha Chritie like "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd", "The ABC Murders" , "And Then There Were None" have really impressed me; the works of Conan Doyle still remain a class apart. If you liked Chritie's works i m sure you would love Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Just try the short stories preferably "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" or "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes".


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