The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

I had forgotten how compelling and clear the prose was for Sherlock Holmes. Doyle was a great writer. I love the occasional science and statistics asides. The explicitness of Holmes’ cocaine usage (7%) is also still shocking. The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle also offers a bit of history of the 1857 Indian mutiny, insights into the casual racism of the late 1890s, a good example of a very bad subplot (Watson falling in love with Marston… ridiculous), and an exciting river craft chase scene where the boatmen are shoveling coal into the boiler! And it had been so long since I had read a Sherlock Holmes story, I honestly could not believe Doyle had the treasure be thrown into the river, according to Jonathan Small. It is so obvious he is lying, and the treasure is just one “clew” away, but the author by that point had given up.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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