Posts Tagged With: Sherlock Holmes

The Sign of Four, Arthur Conan Doyle – Book Review

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Title
: The Sign of Four

Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Genre: mystery, crime, classic
Order in series: Book # 2 in a series
Release Date: February 1890
Length: 127 pages
(total of 12 chapters)

Synopsis

The Sign of Four is one of Sherlock Holmes’s great adventures, a tale of ‘an injured lady, half a million in treasure, a black cannibal, and a wooden-legged ruffian’.
In the yellow fog of London, a young woman comes to 221b Baker Street with the strange tale of a missing father and the mysterious pearls she is sent anonymously each year. Holmes and Watson are soon swept up in an international puzzle of murder, millions and madness that could cost them their lives.

1st sentence

Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantelpiece, and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case.

What made me get it and thoughts on the cover

What— To continue with the series and read another case that Sherlock Holmes solves.

The cover — Another beautiful Penguin English Library book. I always love seeing the color orange and black together.

My thoughts

So this is the second novel written by Doyle giving us yet another intriguing mystery with a secret that goes 10 years back. There’s a lot of people involved in the stolen treasures, threats, and a secret giver of pearls so, I won’t write in details of what I thought of the story ’cause it’ll take a while, plus, I don’t wanna ruin the feeling of suspense for anyone who might be reading this (though I may have written a few spoilers in my other reviews before, but I won’t do it here).

I will only say that I loved Sherlock’s ways in getting the information he needs from the people he’s talking to without them knowing that they just gave away something very important. Oh, and we’re also introduced to Mary, the lady Watson proposes to (see, I can’t help it. I had to add a spoiler).

Now, I remember reading articles about how people don’t like that Arthur Conan Doyle uses racism in his books. I see what they’re talking about -especially in this book- but I’m telling myself that perhaps at his time it was totally normal to write racist descriptions of characters form certain places. I guess they didn’t know any better, what can I say?!

Overall

Full of secrets fit for a suspenseful story.     5/5 stars

‘It is of the first importance,’ he cried, ‘not to allow your judgement to be biased by personal qualities. A client is to me a mere unit, a factor in a problem. The emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning. I assure you that the most winning woman I ever knew was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance-money, and the most repellent man of my acquaintance is a philanthropist who has spent nearly a quarter of a million upon the London poor.’
‘In this case, however -‘
‘I never make exceptions. An exception disproves the rule.’

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A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle – Book Review

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Title: A Study in Scarlet
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Genre: mystery, crime, classic
Order in series: Book # 1 in a series
Release Date: 1887
Length: 135 pages
(total of 14 chapters as 2 parts)

Synopsis

The very first of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, A Study in Scarlet reveals the early days of Holmes and Watson’s friendship, and exactly how the former doctor became involved in a life of crime-solving.
A body is found in a grimy house in south London, its face twisted by fear and horror, with the word ‘RACHE’ scrawled on the wall in blood beside it – yet the corpse itself is completely unscathed. How did this man meet such a strange and terrible end? The answer is darker than anyone could imagine.

1st sentence

In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army.

What made me get it and thoughts on the cover

What— Since I was very young I used to hear about Sherlock Holmes and how smart he was and that he’s a fictional detective who can solve just about any case, and then I remember in 7th grade we took one of Holmes’ short stories (The Speckled Band) and I loved it, of course after that I watched many TV and movie adaptations revolving around the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. This year I felt the urge to actually start reading the books so I asked a friend of mine to make me a bookmark that suits the series (she did two amazing bookmarks) and started to buy Doyle’s work.

The cover — Since Penguin has all 4 of the main novels in the Penguin English Library edition I had to get them. I love the design of the front, back and spine and the feel of the book when reading is great.

My thoughts

At first it felt very weird to read the characters I’m familiar with having their own dialogues in paper and honestly, it took me a while to stop imagining Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman voicing Holmes and Watson in my head. After I forced myself to focus on just the book and the characters as they are described in the book I felt more at ease.

This is the first book in the series so we get to see how Watson first met Sherlock and the first case they solved together (well it was more Sherlock solving everything all on his own and then nonchalantly explaining the ‘how he knew’ in the end).
There’s a reason why Arthur Conan Doyle’s character became so popular. Reading it in 2017, after being familiar with lots of mystery twists, it still managed to keep me hooked and eager to know the reveal.

Confession: I was very confused when I started Part 2 (the second half of the book). I kept on reading the synopsis to check if there’s two stories in here rather than one ’cause so suddenly we’re introduced to new characters in the middle of the desert that had nothing to do with part 1. It hit me after a few pages that the last names of the characters were the ones of the dead person and suspect of the case.
So the author brought us to years before the incident to see what led the murderer to kill the two men the way he did. (I did like this tactic of showing us the true motive of the killing then going back to the present with Sherlock revealing who killed and how).

Oh and where’s Mrs. Hudson?

Overall

I can’t wait to continue with the series. This first book is very short so please do give it a try.    5/5 stars

‘I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.’

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