I’ve postponed writing this review for several days simply because I didn’t know what to say.
I listened to The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle via Amazon’s free Whispersync of the month. It’s a pubic domain book, so you could read it for free from anywhere online, such as Project Gutenberg.
The book was surprisingly short; I finished it in less than 2 work days. If you need a quick easy read/listen, then you might be interested in it.
Sign of Four started on a fun note – Sherlock had nothing to challenge his mind, so he was taking cocaine on a regular basis.
After a typical lecture from Watson on wasting one of the greatest minds in history, Mary Morstan walks in with a mystery worthy of Sherlock: her father had disappeared several years ago and now she was receiving pearls from a mysterious source.
What starts as a simple investigation quickly turns into a full-flung adventure involving missing treasure, poison darts, and masterful disguises. As always, Sherlock is at the top of his game, spotting clues like a boss and even letting his hound Toby do some classic, old-school scent finding with his super sniffer.
By the end of the book, Sherlock wraps things up, Watson gets the girl, and the inspector gets the credit for making the arrest.
In Comparison to the Show
If you’re a big fan of the new BBC TV show Sherlock (like I am), then you might be excited because season 3, episode 2 is called the “Sign of Three.” However, don’t let the similarities in titles fool you: the stories are completely different.
In the show, Sherlock gives a speech at John’s wedding, which leads to his recounting of different cases that all tied together into one epic story. In the book, it is one case involving four people who made a pact to never reveal their treasure.
In the show, different plot lines were combined from various books and characters were changed to fit these new reconstructions. In the book, the characters were clear cut and consistent, but a little bland.
If you’re looking for a high-intensity adventure, then you might be better off watching the show than reading the original book.
The book went in one ear and out the other, in a sense. The story wasn’t bad, but it didn’t feel as memorable as it could have been. It had all the right elements to a Sherlock Holmes book: mysterious clues, treasure, adventures, and outrageous deductions based on tiny details.
However, the story didn’t stand out in my head. It all blurred into a pleasant memory – I enjoyed it, but if asked to describe it to someone who’s never read it, I don’t know if I could do it justice. If you like classic Sherlock, then this book is a fun little diversion, but it’s hard to dig into it.
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