Monday, 22 May 2017

Review: The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

Title: The Sign of Four
Series: Sherlock Holmes #2
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 160
Genres: Classics, Mystery

When a beautiful young woman is sent a letter inviting her to a sinister assignation, she immediately seeks the advice of the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes.

For this is not the first mysterious item Mary Marston has received in the post. Every year for the last six years an anonymous benefactor has sent her a large lustrous pearl. Now it appears the sender of the pearls would like to meet her to right a wrong.

But when Sherlock Holmes and his faithful sidekick Watson, aiding Miss Marston, attend the assignation, they embark on a dark and mysterious adventure involving a one-legged ruffian, some hidden treasure, deadly poison darts and a thrilling race along the River Thames.
This is the second book in the Sherlock Holmes series and it was not as good as A Study in Scarlet.

The murder mystery in this one was quite weak. There was a lack of Sherlock Holmes actually explaining anything. He just seems to dash about and then the villain at the end explains everything in minute detail, only for Holmes to confirm his theories were correct. It was a little dull but it was a fairly quick read.

I think the most interesting piece of information in this book was that Sherlock likes a bit of cocaine, with intravenous injection being his preferred method of delivery. I can't say I'm surprised as cocaine was used for everything in that time period. Quite strange to read casual drug references in a classic.

Dr Watson's love interest was the biggest case of instalove I've ever seen, but I can accept that instalove is a thing that does happen in real life. Though instalust may be a better description. I found it quite abrupt but funny as the whole 'romance' was so business like and just awkward. Maybe Mary will have more of a purpose in the later stories.

I think on the whole, I did enjoy The Sign of Four even if I found the massive info-dump chapter at the end a little dull. I am still looking forward to reading more of Sherlock Holmes.

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