Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Sign of Four [Sherlock Holmes #2] - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Title - The Sign of Four
Author - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 

Yellow fog is swirling through the streets of London, and Sherlock Holmes himself is sitting in a cocaine-induced haze until the arrival of a distressed and beautiful young lady forces the great detective into action. Each year following the strange disappearance of her father, Miss Morstan has received a present of a rare and lustrous pearl. Now, on the day she is summoned to meet her anonymous benefactor, she consults Holmes and Watson.


In reading this book I was prepared to learn the darker nature of Sherlock Holmes and indeed this book deliver. For the most part Sherlock remained an intellectual snob with a dash of narcissistic traits that demand attention. Indeed the BBC’s Sherlock did have a point when he said ‘’ the frailty of genius is it needs an audience’’ [paraphrased]. This book is much darker that A Study in Scarlet with Holmes, it starts with Cocaine and ends with Cocaine.

It occurred to me while I was reading it how similar Holmes’ character was to that of Greg House whom I have been a fan of for many years. Both men are arrogance, brilliant and can’t stand the mundanes of ordinary life. Despite the darker setting I found Holmes to be more humane in this book, at several points he even comforts other people and thing about the well-being of Mary Morstan, Watson’s future wife.

Turning my attention by to the narrator, I was once again struck by the resemblance between Watson and modern day Sherlock fan girls, that is to say gaze at Holmes with excessive admiration. That is not to say that Holmes is not a brilliant man however it feels like Watson has surpassed the normal limit of admiration and passed on to fandom. I am sure if there was internet in 1800s Watson would be the number one follower.

To be honest I can’t say I am a very big fan of Watson, apart from the morality he represents in their relationship, I find he is always so out staged by Holmes that he might as well be an automaton for all the academic contribution he provided. One more thing I disliked about him and continue to dislike in every Victorian book I have managed to read is his attraction to Mary Morstan, sure she held it together when she discovered bad news about her father however I fail to see what made her attractive to a man. For me she was the Victorian idealistic woman who has not been given much personality, I am not saying she lacks personality rather she hasn’t been given many chances to voice these personalities. As a somewhat literature feminist I find I feel strongly about this.

Overall I enjoyed the puzzle and give it 4 out of 5 stars.
Product Detail
Paperback: 164 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Language: English

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