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


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Product details

  • 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 (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 313,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

In this erudite and provocative edition, Shafquat Towheed offers fans of both Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle an intricate account of the intertextual histories at the heart of The Sign of Four. Arguing for the inextricability of its colonial plots with its work as detective fiction, Towheed builds a persuasive case for The Sign of Four as Mutiny fiction, positioning it as pivotal to the imperial career of 'British' fiction per se. Readers of this edition will be gripped by the colonial pathways Towheed reveals, the politics of citation he uncovers, and the entanglement of home and empire he tracks in the making of the novel. This is postcolonial interpretation at its very best. --Antoinette Burton

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 Paperback edition.

Book Description

As Watson falls in love and Sherlock Holmes battles his darker habits, the two men once again tackle a case of baffling complexity

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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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

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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5 of 5 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Caleb Williams VINE VOICE on 26 Aug 2009
Format: Paperback
I have not long completed "A Study In Scarlet" which was Doyle's first jump into the world of Sherlock Holmes, and it was a jump I thoroughly enjoyed. Now, after just finishing "The Sign Of Four", I am now set in my convictions to make sure I read every single Holmes adventure written by Doyle. This is a longer and, indeed, more complex case than "A Study In Scarlet" yet the writing style takes a slightly different approach as it remains focused on the investigation of Holmes & Watson rather than split into two the story to try and explain the motive behind the investigated crime.

The skills of Holmes this time are called upon by a young woman of the name of Mary Morstan who tells Holmes of her father's disappearance four years ago and then a mysterious appearance of yearly gifts which started to arrive four years ago. This leads them unexpectedly to the scene of shocking murder which reaches to the depths of far off India and the investigation is engaged upon with the help of a stereotypical detective, a gang of street Arabs and the keen nose of a canine.

There are some fantastic aspects to this piece of Holmes fiction compared to his first outing. Still told from the perspective of Watson it touches upon the most interesting aspect of Holmes' personality that being his inherent drug use. This seemingly large flaw in what appears to be a man with an almost perfect skill is something that makes the character all the more human. It also gives a brief look towards the end of the story as to Holmes' perspective on emotional affairs such as love which he sees as opposite to truth and reason.

This is another fantastic Holmes investigation and just makes me anticipate the further stories that I will delve into. For those not familiar with the Holmes stories, I strongly recommend that you begin your quest with the fantastic "A Study In Scarlet" and then move swiftly onto this as it is truly a gem of class English literature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. B. Hillis on 19 Jan 2009
Format: Paperback
The Sign of Four is the second Sherlock Holmes novel. It is a fast-paced story involving theft, murder and betrayal, the beginnings of which lie in a robbery that took place during the Indian Mutiny.

The great strengths of the novel lie in its pace, thrilling plot and atmospheric settings. There is also of course the facinating character of Holmes himself: the arrogant, intellectual, emotionally stunted drug fiend solving crime through observation and deduction.

Conan Doyle is superb at set-piece scenes such as the boat chase down the Thames and the incident at Agra Fort. I also enjoyed Holmes exposition of his methods, the glimpses of the seamier side of Victorian London and the comic interludes with Thaddeus Sholto and the stereotypically plodding police detective Athelney Jones.

There are some gripes though. Some characters are mere props rather than rounded individuals. Also, at least once Conan Doyle gives Holmes useful information which is hidden from the reader until later when it is revealed that Holmes has used that information in solving the crime. That Holmes is given more facts to work with weakens the illusion the reader is uncovering the mystery with him.

Overall, despite these faults, the Sign of Four is a great page-turner. Holmes may solve crimes like so many cryptic crosswords but this novel has great action and suspense as well as great detecting.
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