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The Sign of Four (Penguin Classics) Mass Market Paperback – 6 Mar 2008


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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (6 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141034378
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141034379
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 1.2 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 273,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


Product Description

Review

Perhaps the greatest of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries is this: that when we talk of him we invariably fall into the fancy of his existence (T. S. Eliot) --This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.

Book Description

A tie-in edition of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic Sherlock Holmes novel, with a new introduction by Martin Freeman --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantelpiece, and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David VINE VOICE on 23 July 2012
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Derek Jacobi has one of those voices that you just want to listen to. I have enjoyed several audiobooks which he has narrated and can now add The Sign Of Four to my collection. This is one of four full length Sherlock Holmes novel that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote - the other three being A Study In Scarlet, The Hound Of The Baskervilles and The Valley Of Fear. The Sign Of Four has been adapted several times for film, radio and television. The story sees Holmes and Watson investigating the case of Mary Marston who has received a large pearl each year for the last 6 years. She has now received a letter telling her she is a wronged woman. If she wants to seek justice and meet her mysterious benifactor and bring two companions. She turns to Holmes and Watson. Obviously there is alot more to the plot but I won't spoil it for you.

This 4 cd set runs at 4 hours and 30 minutes. The cds are nicely packaged in a plastic amery style case. If you enjoy a good mystery then why not let Derek Jacobi be your guide into the mystery of The Sign Of Four.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By tj64@lineone.net on 31 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
"The Sign of Four" is the second of Conan Doyle's four longer Sherlock Holmes stories - I wouldn't call it a novel, because it's shorter even than the other three.
The level of detection and the intrigue surrounding the mystery is as clever as ever, and possibly more complex than in its predecessor, "A Study in Scarlet". The structure of the book could be seen as a little clumsy, with the story of Small tacked onto the end as an extra thirty pages - but using the first-person viewpoint like he does, there was no other way for Conan Doyle to integrate it into the story.
This story is also worth reading for its long-term developments in the Holmes stories. We learn of Holmes' cocaine addiction and his reasoning behind it. This is also where Watson meets his wife, which - along with the treasure seeking - makes it the more romantic of the longer stories. The relationship is hardly developed realistically, but Conan Doyle always seems to sacrifice character development in favour of brilliant plots.
If you simply enjoy the mystery and try not to think about such things, the book is very good indeed. It's a very easy read; Conan Doyle's style flowing brilliantly and so offering a perfect form of escapism.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Su TOP 100 REVIEWER on 10 Aug. 2012
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was at a dinner on 30th August 1889 with (amongst others) Oscar Wilde and JM Stoddart. Conan Doyle called this a "golden evening" in this autobiography.

Never heard of Mr Stoddart? Few people have.

Mr Stoddart was the Managing Editor of the US monthly magazine "Lippincott" and was the man who commissioned Conan Doyle to write "The Sign of the Four". In 1890, Conan Doyle had fulfilled the commission and, "The Sign of the Four" and it was published in the US and the UK. Wilde wrote and submitted "The Picture of Dorian Gray" as his part of the commission.

Interestingly the story has changed its name a number of times: "The Sign of the Four", "The Sign of Four", "Sign of the Four" and "Sign of Four". It is now back to the original "The Sign of the Four".

The story:

Miss Mary Marston has received one large pearl every year for the past 6 years. Mary believed that it was from her missing father, but after receiving a strange note she is no-longer sure. Holmes is intrigued and Watson is enamoured.

It is not one of Conan Doyle's greatest stories (probably because it was completed as a commission), but it is still enjoyable.

Sir Derek Jacobi reads the story with superb aplomb.

It is 4 hour 30 minutes spread over 4 discs, and is superb for those days when you want to shut yourself off from the world and listen to the exploits of the World's First Consulting Detective.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on 2 Nov. 2012
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A fairly typical sleuth story with some moments of greatness. What interested me most about the Sign of the Four was which elements of the story have dated and which haven't. The plot itself is very predictable now, it may have been ground breaking at the time. It's a tale of ill gotten treasure from the mysterious east and skulduggery that stretches from country houses to the Thames. You've heard it all before, for better or worse. What really dates it is the portrayal of the Indian characters, prepare to be offended if you are sensitive to this kind of thing - Conan Doyle's descriptions of savages certainly doesn't mark him out as a progressive humanitarian, even for his day.
The characterization of Holmes however is the most interesting part of the story. He's an unapologetic drug user who finds that the only things that stimulate him are mysteries and crack cocaine. It makes for interesting stuff.
Derek Jacobi (the patron saint of audiobooks) does a bang up job as ever.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 25 July 2012
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The second of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novels, The Sign of Four builds upon A Study in Scarlet by adding flaws and complexity to his consulting detective's genius. Where the first novel presented him as an almost superhuman intellect by the simple expedient of applying common sense and logical deduction to his observations, here we see the chinks in his armour, most notably his drug abuse in times of boredom. Watson isn't overlooked either, the novel introducing him to Mary Morstan, who would play an important role in briefly separating the duo in future stories without ever really establishing herself as much of a presence in any of them. None of which gets in the way of the plot, which involves a woman in an undisclosed peril that - like most of the Holmes' novels - is ultimately revealed by a lengthy flashback to events years earlier that led to the current crimes. It's a complex affair and, it has to be said, not one of Doyle's best, at times feeling slightly beholden to Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone with the supernatural aspect removed, but there's still much to enjoy.

Once again AudioGo's unabridged audiobook version is given a sympathetic and splendidly unfussy reading by Derek Jacobi: no gimmicks, no overacting, no amendments to the text, just the reassuring feeling that we're listening to Dr. John Watson recounting his extraordinary friend's exploits. It's ideal fireside storytelling as the evenings draw in whether you're coming to the story for the first time or paying it a return visit.
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