The Sign of the Four

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BompaCrazy.com, 1930 - Juvenile Fiction - 146 pages
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The Sign of the Four (1890), also called The Sign of Four, is the second novel featuring Sherlock Holmes written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle wrote four novels and 56 stories starring the fictional detective. As with the first story, A Study in Scarlet, produced two years previously, The Sign of the Four was not particularly successful to start with. It was the short stories, published from 1891 onwards in Strand Magazine, that made household names of Sherlock Holmes and his creator.

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It presents the detective's drug habit and humanizes him in a way that had not been done in A Study in Scarlet. It also introduces Doctor Watson's future wife, Mary Morstan.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle describes how he was commissioned to write the story over a dinner with Joseph M. Stoddart, managing editor of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, at the Langham Hotel in London on 30 August 1889. Stoddart wanted to produce an English version of Lippincott?s with a British editor and British contributors. The dinner was also attended by Oscar Wilde, who eventually contributed The Picture of Dorian Gray to the July 1890 issue. Doyle discussed what he called this "golden evening" in his 1924 autobiography Memories and Adventures.

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The plot was pleasantly complex. - LibraryThing
Working out that muscle also helps my own writing. - LibraryThing
I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgment. - LibraryThing
I also love seeing how writing has changed. - LibraryThing

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User Review  - FictionZeal - LibraryThing

Mary Morstan becomes a client for Sherlock Holmes and a very beautiful and interesting lady for Dr. John Watson. She reports that her father, Captain Arthur Morstan, has disappeared. However, the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Floratina - LibraryThing

READ IN ENGLISH The Sign of The Four will be used in the third series of BBC Sherlock as The Sign of Three. I'm quite thrilled that for once I have read the book before they used it, and I will be ... Read full review

About the author (1930)

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was a Scottish physician and writer, most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, generally considered a milestone in the field of crime fiction, and for the adventures of Professor Challenger. He was a prolific writer whose other works include science fiction stories, plays, romances, poetry, non-fiction and historical novels.

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Conan Doyle was a fervent advocate of justice and personally investigated two closed cases, which led to two men being exonerated of the crimes of which they were accused. The first case, in 1906, involved a shy half-British, half-Indian lawyer named George Edalji who had allegedly penned threatening letters and mutilated animals. Police were set on Edalji's conviction, even though the mutilations continued after their suspect was jailed.

The second case, that of Oscar Slater, a German Jew and gambling-den operator convicted of bludgeoning an 82-year-old woman in Glasgow in 1908, excited Conan Doyle's curiosity because of inconsistencies in the prosecution case and a general sense that Slater was not guilty. He ended up paying most of the costs for Slater's successful appeal in 1928.

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Conan Doyle was friends for a time with Harry Houdini, the American magician who himself became a prominent opponent of the Spiritualist movement in the 1920s following the death of his beloved mother. Although Houdini insisted that Spiritualist mediums employed trickery (and consistently exposed them as frauds), Conan Doyle became convinced that Houdini himself possessed supernatural powers?a view expressed in Conan Doyle's The Edge of the Unknown. Houdini was apparently unable to convince Conan Doyle that his feats were simply illusions, leading to a bitter public falling out between the two.