The Sign of Four is the second story by Conan Doyle about the exploits of Sherlock Holmes.
From the moment Mary Morstan tells Holmes about the mysterious disappearance of her father and the yearly gift of a pearl from an unknown benefactor, Holmes and his companion Watson are involved in an exotic tale of stolen treasure, secret oaths and murder, culminating in a breath-taking chase down the Thames. Holmes is on top form, and Watson falls in love. David Timson won the Audiobook of the Year Award for his reading of this, the first Sherlock Holmes novel.
Public Domain (P)2003 Naxos Audiobooks
Painter, musician, bibliophile...
If you're unfamiliar with this story, you can't do better than to choose this virtuoso narration by David Timson. It's astounding, even for an actor whose narrations are consistently of the highest quality.
A lovely young lady comes to Holmes to help her solve a mystery: she has been receiving a pearl of great price each year from an anonymous donor.
You'll see Holmes at his best and worst, Watson at his most chilvalrous and romantic. An eccentric valetudinarian, a gang of criminals, foreign lands, violence, adventure, and a man with a most unusual sidekick all figure in this engaging tale.
Highly recommended to all who love Victorian classics and good mysteries!
I am a big fan of David Timson's audio performances, he makes it look easy! He lends terrific narration to Watson, Holmes and all of the other characters in The Sign of Four. I hadn't read this story in quite a while and it was relieving to see it was as good as I remember it! The violins that accompany the end/beginning of each part really adds to the performance. This story is highly recommended - don't hesitate and get it now!
Interested in books that help one's spirit move beyond the ordinary.
This seemed to have been a week when I was destined to listen to unknown works by two authors I enjoy (See my review of Double Star by Robert Heinlein).
The narration of The Sign of Four was very good. He varied the characters voices so that you had a good image of each one. Discovering the meeting and romance of John Watson and Mary Marston was also enjoyable.
The book does fall down in middle, however, and never really recovers. The first half is classic Holmes and Watson and they quickly resolve the mystery. The second half is devoted to the culprit giving a detailed and (to my mind) tedious back story of the events that led up to the story's two murders.
As with Double Star, I bought this audio book as a daily deal but it wasn't nearly as good a bargain as that book. Given the low price, I felt reasonably satisfied with it. However, I wouldn't recommend purchasing it at full price or with a credit.
This is still early Holmes, so Moriarty hasn't appeared yet, but we do have Inspector Lestrade, and the Baker Street Irregulars, and Holmes's infamous "Seven percent solution."
Sherlock Holmes is a series which I think is better done in the various modern reimaginings than going back to the original source material, which rereading as an older and more experienced adult, one realizes was very Victorian pulp fiction and frequently a bit more silly than I remembered from reading the entire collected Sherlock Holmes as a child.
That's not to say I don't still enjoy the stories, but whereas I thought Sherlock Holmes was cool as heck when I was a kid, and I can still appreciate all the tropes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle brought into the genre, Holmes is basically a morose, smug misanthrope who, by his own admission, takes cocaine and heroin to dull himself to the boredom and general unsatisfactoriness of the world, when he isn't engaged on a case. So we find him at the beginning of this, his second case, with Watson mustering himself to offer a tepid criticism of Holmes's drug habit, which Holmes breezily blows off until a case appears.
The Sign of the Four begins with a young lady in search of her father, who disappeared ten years ago. It turns out to be a story of betrayal and lost treasure, in this case a treasure secreted out of Raj India. There's a blowgun-wielding aboriginal tribesman described in delightfully racist British purple prose, and other things that will prick the PC sensibilities of the modern reader, but let's just accept that Holmes and Watson are men of their time (and in fairness, it's usually other people describing Indians and island tribesmen as inhuman savages).
Like the first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, the last part of this story is narrated by one of the secondary characters, describing the backstory, and having nothing to do with Holmes and Watson until they arrive on the scene years later.
The Sign of the Four ends with Watson engaged, which I actually did not remember from reading the books way back when. So, does he end up getting married, or does Doyle engineer some tragic demise for his perfect flower of Victorian womanhood? I guess I need to pick up the next story...
I listen to many audiobooks and review the ones I find most notable.
I am shamed to admit that although I am 36 years of age, I have previously only read one Sherlock Holmes story (The Hound of the Baskervilles). I have decided to remedy that. This was my first go. Obviously a classic for a reason, Sherlock Holmes is a pretty great character. A brilliant jerk. The mystery was good as well. I found it very enjoyable. Unfortunately, as I have only read 2 Sherlock stories, I can't give any expert comparative opinions. I did enjoy The Hound of the Baskervilles more than this one, but this story was still great. I did enjoy the narrator. Sometimes I find that narrators often miss the mark when performing the classics. They sound stuffy or pretentious. This narrator was pleasant to listen to. I'm off to a good start.
Another pleasant insight into Sherlock Holmes' insights. As engaging as A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four is a well narrated, captivating listen. Definitely worth my time.
It was scary, creepy, entertaining as well as enlightening. I had forgotten that India and the military postings there had such an effect on Great Britain in so many categories.
The story was so well written and portrayed that it was a real joy to listen to.
It is well worth the credit or the money to get it. I look forward to hearing more of Sir Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mysteries.
Retired bookkeeper, married, Mom of 2, two granddaughters. Love cozy mysteries.
I purchased this 4.5 hour book during a recent Audible Daily Deal, and I'm quite pleased with my purchase! A typical Holmes mystery - "G" rated, as you would expect. A very comfortable listen. My first experience listening to David Timson. Fantastic narrator - I will look for him in the future. And Dr. Watson falls in love! Very nice read - I highly recommend it if you like cozy mysteries!
Maybe a person wanting to get into Sherlock Holmes novels without too much story at first.
Benefits the story
There were a few parts of deduction carried out by Sherlock that were entertaining.
I've read some short stories of Holmes and have enjoyed them for the quick reads that they were. They get in, build some characters, show Holmes for the genius detective he is, and gets out.
The Sign of Four felt like a short story but without any of the character build, a real sense of a good case to solve, and worst of all - Sherlock Holmes doesn't do much in this story.
There is really only one, maybe two scenes where Holmes does his deduction and it's almost too quickly solved. There's a bit with him deducing Watson's watch origin at the beginning that displays a bit more of his prowess. Watson also develops his love interest too quickly and the woman gets lost in her own story.
This is a quick read but it doesn't do much with the extra pages it has. It is no wonder we see so many adaptations of the characters and even stories like these in modern TV shows - it seems like they can flesh out a bit more of everything Sherlock. Final Grade - D+
Chick Lit Lover
I know I should rave about this because it's a classic, but it wasn't very good. Long winded and boring...not at all like the first Sherlock Holmes book. It was a struggle just to make it through. The performance was excellent, the material was not.
"Good story and dictation."
Shame about the constant interruptions in the form of musical interludes that just gave the impression of time-wasting.
kept my interest and the characters and story line were captivating. Great book and well read. I really enjoyed it.
"Didn't realise way a character Sherlock was!"
As it turns out Sherlock Holmes is addicted to cocaine and prone to manic episodes!
I think Conan Doyle is credited with 'inventing' the detective genre and therefore if you enjoy a good mystery it's well worth giving Sherlock a listen. The Sign of Four is no Hound of the Baskervilles but as the second book in the series it gives useful character background information.
Well worth a listen and it's fairly short so easy to get into... And feels like opening a portal into another time.
"Showing its age!"
I have started to realise what an obnoxious prig Sherlock Holmes is - I think that the age in which this was written has been outgrown, and we have moved on from the attitude of the day. I must say that this is the first time I have really realised what an obnoxious prig the man is, everything is about 'How clever I am' - as I say, time has moved on!
An OK mystery, nicely read - but my last Sherlock Holmes I fear!
"A classic story brought to life"
Wonderfully acted the whole way through. The characters really come to life. Well worth recommending.
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