The Sign of Four

( 44 )

Overview

It is in this, the second Holmes novel, that the great detective comes fully to life - not only as a melancholic and an inscrutable master of deduction, but also as an incurable drug addict. "Which is it today?" Watson asks Holmes matter-of-factly on the opening page of the novel, "morphine or cocaine?" "It is cocaine," Holmes famously replies. "A seven-per-cent solution. Would you like to try it?" Mary Morstan comes to Holmes in the hope that he will be able to solve a mystery. Ten years earlier her father, ...
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The Sign of Four

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Overview

It is in this, the second Holmes novel, that the great detective comes fully to life - not only as a melancholic and an inscrutable master of deduction, but also as an incurable drug addict. "Which is it today?" Watson asks Holmes matter-of-factly on the opening page of the novel, "morphine or cocaine?" "It is cocaine," Holmes famously replies. "A seven-per-cent solution. Would you like to try it?" Mary Morstan comes to Holmes in the hope that he will be able to solve a mystery. Ten years earlier her father, Captain Arthur Morstan, had returned to London on leave from his regiment in India where it is said that he and one Thadeus Sholto, "came into possession of a considerable treasure." By the time his daughter arrived at his hotel, he had vanished without a trace. The Sign of Four remains a small masterpiece of suspense, and the novel has enjoyed a steady readership ever since its first publication in 1890. In recent years, however, it has not been readily available except as a part of larger omnibus Holmes anthologies.

When an Englishwoman receives mysterious gifts of pearls and a letter promising to right wrongs done to her, she calls upon Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to investigate.

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Editorial Reviews

Antoinette Burton University of Illinois
"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."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606461402
  • Publisher: Audio Book Contractors, LLC
  • Publication date: 1/1/2010
  • Format: CD

Meet the Author


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930), a Scottish writer whose works include science fiction stories, historical novels, plays, romances, poetry, and nonfiction, is best known as the creator of the detective Sherlock Holmes.

One of AudioFile magazine's Golden Voices, Simon Prebble has received over twenty Earphones Awards and five Listen-Up Awards, and he has been a finalist fourteen times for an Audie Award. In 2006, Publishers Weekly named him Narrator of the Year, and he was named Booklist's 2010 Voice of Choice.

Biography

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh in 1859. After nine years in Jesuit schools, he went to Edinburgh University, receiving a degree in medicine in 1881. He then became an eye specialist in Southsea, with a distressing lack of success. Hoping to augment his income, he wrote his first story, A Study in Scarlet. His detective, Sherlock Holmes, was modeled in part after Dr. Joseph Bell of the Edinburgh Infirmary, a man with spectacular powers of observation, analysis, and inference. Conan Doyle may have been influenced also by his admiration for the neat plots of Gaboriau and for Poe's detective, M. Dupin. After several rejections, the story was sold to a British publisher for £25, and thus was born the world's best-known and most-loved fictional detective. Fifty-nine more Sherlock Holmes adventures followed.

Once, wearying of Holmes, his creator killed him off, but was forced by popular demand to resurrect him. Sir Arthur -- he had been knighted for this defense of the British cause in his The Great Boer War -- became an ardent Spiritualist after the death of his son Kingsley, who had been wounded at the Somme in World War I. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died in Sussex in 1930.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 22, 1859
    2. Place of Birth:
      Edinburgh, Scotland
    1. Date of Death:
      July 7, 1930
    2. Place of Death:
      Crowborough, Sussex, England

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

The Science of Deduction

Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantel-piece and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case. With his long, white, nervous fingers he adjusted the delicate needle, and rolled back his left shirt-cuff. For some little time his eyes rested thoughtfully upon the sinewy forearm and wrist all dotted and scarred with innumerable puncture-marks. Finally he thrust the sharp point home, pressed down the tiny piston, and sank back into the velvet-lined arm-chair with a long sigh of satisfaction.

Three times a day for many months I had witnessed this performance, but custom had not reconciled my mind to it. On the contrary, from day to day I had become more irritable at the sight, and my conscience swelled nightly within me at the thought that I had lacked the courage to protest. Again and again I had registered a vow that I should deliver my soul upon the subject, but there was that in the cool, nonchalant air of my companion which made him the last man with whom one would care to take anything approaching to a liberty. His great powers, his masterly manner, and the experience which I had had of his many extraordinary qualities, all made me diffident and backward in crossing him.

Yet upon that afternoon, whether it was the Beaune which I had taken with my lunch, or the additional exasperation produced by the extreme deliberation of his manner, I suddenly felt that I could hold out no longer.

"Which is it to-day?" I asked,--"morphine or cocaine?"

He raised his eyes languidly from the old black-letter volume which he had opened. "It is cocaine," he said,--"a seven per-cent solution. Would you care totry it?"

"No, indeed," I answered, brusquely. "My constitution has not got over the Afghan campaign yet. I cannot afford to throw any extra strain upon it."

He smiled at my vehemence. "Perhaps you are right, Watson," he said. "I suppose that its influence is physically a bad one. I find it, however, so transcendently stimulating and clarifying to the mind that its secondary action is a matter of small moment."

"But consider!" I said, earnestly. "Count the cost! Your brain may, as you say, be roused and excited, but it is a pathological and morbid process, which involves increased tissue-change and may at last leave a permanent weakness. You know, too, what a black reaction comes upon you. Surely the game is hardly worth the candle. Why should you, for a mere passing pleasure, risk the loss of those great powers with which you have been endowed? Remember that I speak not only as one comrade to another, but as a medical man to one for whose constitution he is to some extent answerable."

He did not seem offended. On the contrary, he put his finger-tips together and leaned his elbows on the arms of his chair, like one who has a relish for conversation.

"My mind," he said, "rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession,--or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world."

"The only unofficial detective?" I said, raising my eyebrows.

"The only unofficial consulting detective," he answered. "I am the last and highest court of appeal in detection. When Gregson or Lestrade or Athelney Jones are out of their depths--which, by the way, is their normal state--the matter is laid before me. I examine the data, as an expert, and pronounce a specialist's opinion. I claim no credit in such cases. My name figures in no newspaper. The work itself, the pleasure of finding a field for my peculiar powers, is my highest reward. But you have yourself had some experience of my methods of work in the Jefferson Hope case."

"Yes, indeed," said I, cordially. "I was never so struck by anything in my life. I even embodied it in a small brochure with the somewhat fantastic title of 'A Study in Scarlet.'"

He shook his head sadly. "I glanced over it," said he. "Honestly, I cannot congratulate you upon it. Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science, and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner. You have attempted to tinge it with romanticism, which produces much the same effect as if you worked a love-story or an elopement into the fifth proposition of Euclid."

"But the romance was there," I remonstrated. "I could not tamper with the facts."

"Some facts should be suppressed, or at least a just sense of proportion should be observed in treating them. The only point in the case which deserved mention was the curious analytical reasoning from effects to causes by which I succeeded in unraveling it."

I was annoyed at this criticism of a work which had been specially designed to please him. I confess, too, that I was irritated by the egotism which seemed to demand that every line of my pamphlet should be devoted to his own special doings. More than once during the years that I had lived with him in Baker Street I had observed that a small vanity underlay my companion's quiet and didactic manner. I made no remark, however, but sat nursing my wounded leg. I had a Jezail bullet through it some time before, and, though it did not prevent me from walking, it ached wearily at every change of the weather.

"My practice has extended recently to the Continent," said Holmes, after a while, filling up his old brier-root pipe. "I was consulted last week by Francois Le Villard, who, as you probably know, has come rather to the front lately in the French detective service. He has all the Celtic power of quick intuition, but he is deficient in the wide range of exact knowledge which is essential to the higher developments of his art. The case was concerned with a will, and possessed some features of interest. I was able to refer him to two parallel cases, the one at Riga in 1857, and the other at St. Louis in 1871, which have suggested to him the true solution. Here is the letter which I had this morning acknowledging my assistance." He tossed over, as he spoke, a crumpled sheet of foreign notepaper. I glanced my eyes down it, catching a profusion of notes of admiration, with stray "magnifiques," "coup-de-maitres," and "tours-de-force," all testifying to the ardent admiration of the Frenchman.

"He speaks as a pupil to his master," said I.

"Oh, he rates my assistance too highly," said Sherlock Holmes, lightly. "He has considerable gifts himself. He possesses two out of the three qualities necessary for the ideal detective. He has the power of observation and that of deduction. He is only wanting in knowledge; and that may come in time. He is now translating my small works into French."

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Arthur Conan Doyle: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text
The Sign of Four
Appendix A: Domestic Contexts
1. The Chronology of The Sign of Four
2. From Havelock Ellis, The Criminal
3. From Cesare Lombroso, The Man of Genius
Appendix B: Colonial Contexts: Accounts of the Indian "Mutiny", 1857-8
1. From Sir William Muir, Agra in the Mutiny and the Family Life of W. & E.H. Muir in the Fort, 1857
2. From Sir William Muir, Agra Correspondence during the Mutiny
3. From James P. Grant, The Christian Soldier: Memorials of Major-General Sir Henry Havelock
4. From Rev. Frederick S. Williams, General Havelock and Christian Soldiership
5. From Mrs R. M. Coopland, A Lady's Escape from Gwalior and life in Agra Fort during the Mutinies of 1857
6. From Sir J.W. Kaye and G.B. Malleson, The History of the Indian Mutiny of 1857-8
Appendix C: Colonial Contexts: The First and Second Anglo-Afghan Wars
1. From Sir Henry Havelock, Narrative of the War in Affghanistan, 1838-9
2. From Lady Florentia Sale, A Journal of the Disasters in Affghanistan, 1841-2
3. From J.W. Kaye, History of the War in Afghanistan
4. From "The Murder of Lord Mayo", The Times, 15 April 1872
Appendix D: Colonial Contexts: The Andaman Islands
1. "The Andaman Islands, A Penal Settlement for India", Letter to the Editor of The Times, 11 November 1857
2. From Frederic J. Mouat, Adventures and Researches Among the Andaman Islanders
3. From the Annual Report on the Settlement of Port Blair and the Nicobars for the Year 1872-3
4. From "The Andamans Penal Settlement" in The Times, 13 February 1872
5. From "The Andaman Settlements: From our own correspondent", The Times, 26 December 1873.
6. From Annual Report on the Settlement of Port Blair and the Nicobars for the Year 1873-4
7. From Edward Horace Man, On the Aboriginal Inhabitants of the Andaman Islands
8. Summary of information from the History of Services of the Gazetted officers in the civil department serving in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Corrected up to 1st July 1889
9. From Maurice Vidal Portman, A History of Our Relations with the Andamanese. Compiled from Histories and Travels
Select Bibliography

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 44 )
Rating Distribution

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(18)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

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(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2010

    Incomplete file

    It only downloaded through page 66, then it stops--in the middle of the story!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2011

    Zero stars, there is no readable text, only chapter headings

    Yes, in this case you do get what you pay for. I downloaded it twice, and the "text" is all random numbers and symbols.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2012

    Fine

    Good book but i guess the format was off and it had alo of typing issues

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Review

    An excellent mystery with a boat chase that matches no other.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011

    Treasure

    This file was perfectly fine and great to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2013

    A good read!

    The Sign of Four was very entertaining and gave me much more insight into the inner workings of Sherlock and his relationship with Watson. Sherlock had a mind that was so in tune with solving puzzles and meeting challenges of mystery and intrigue. For anyone who loves the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle, I believe you'll enjoy this captivating read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2013

    What a crock!

    For some reason my purchase only included the freaking sample what a rip off!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2012

    Too many typos

    The mistakes were annoying and everywhere. They were such silly mistakes too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    I MISS HER U SHALL BE MISSED

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    Glare

    Stabs her sword through his heart

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    Zoue

    Gets in

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A thrilling tale of adventure, romance, and as always a quirky fun Sherlock Holmes, along with his partner Watson, in a head over heels suspense and mind boggling book. Arthur Conan Doyle had done it again!

    Wonderful and suspenseful, Arthur Conan Doyle leads us through a suspenseful and fun filled adventure and as always keeps you interested using the thrilling yet some what "off" character Sherlock Holmes and his trusty partner Dr. Watson, as they race to find the missing treasure of a young Ms.Morstran. and find themselves caught in a tangle of enemies that had strung back from decades.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted June 19, 2011

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    Posted July 3, 2011

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    Posted September 22, 2010

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    Posted June 8, 2011

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    Posted May 30, 2011

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