The Sign of Four is the second book that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote featuring the now famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his partner, Dr. John Watson. The book begins with Holmes taking cocaine since he has no work and he needs something to keep him from feeling bored. Fortunately, a case shows up at his doorstep, involving a young lady who has been receiving a pearl every year in the mail since the time of her father’s disappearance. The lady, Mary Morstan, has now been contacted by the sender who wants to meet her, and she would like Holmes and Watson to come along in case she needs any help.
So far, the case has all the elements necessary for an intriguing mystery—a damsel in distress (who eventually becomes the wife of Dr. Watson), a restless detective, and the mystery of the annual pearl. What does it all mean? When Mary Morstan, Holmes and Watson reach the rendezvous, they meet a man named Thaddeus Sholto who reveals to Mary that their respective fathers were in possession of a treasure they had brought over from India. He says that his brother Bartholomew has now discovered the whereabouts of this treasure and they want to share it with her.
However, when they go to the place where they are to meet Bartholomew, they find that he is dead and the treasure stolen. Holmes, with his usual acuity, examines the scene of the crime and states that there were two men involved, one with a wooden leg and the other extremely agile. So it is now up to Holmes and Watson to track down these perpetrators and discover what happened. Plus, what exactly is "the sign of the four" which they find in one of Mary Morstan’s father’s papers?
In an extremely dexterous narrative which spans several decades, Conan Doyle weaves together a fantastic story involving India, convicts, stolen treasure and, of course, the damsel in distress. Holmes once again succeeds in astonishing readers with his hound-like skills, noticing things that mere mortals would never pay attention to. In our day and age, we often take the accomplishments of forensic teams for granted but in Conan Doyle’s time, so much attention to detail was not a matter of course. People didn’t naturally look for strands of hair or signs of shoe polish, all of which Holmes does. In many ways, although fictional, he is responsible for the way in which we regard crime-solving today.
Conan Doyle was himself a doctor by profession and based the character of Holmes on one of his university teachers, Joseph Bell, a man whose attention to detail and skills of deduction were beyond compare. Holmes’ predilection for melancholia in the absence of work was echoed in Conan Doyle’s life, especially in his later years when he started to wonder whether there is life after death. He published several books and short stories, some of them featuring Holmes and others of a non-fiction nature. He married twice and had five children.
Download The Sign of Four audiobook now from The Audio Bookstore to get a glimpse of the dark and mysterious world of Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle’s storytelling is intense and compelling, pulling you in like a whirlpool to release you at the end when the mystery has been unraveled.
Greed, betrayal, and vengeance set the stage for this Sir Arthur Conan Doyle classic. Sherlock Holmes is rescued from boredom by the strange case of Jonathan Small and the tragedy of Pondicherry Lodge. The mystery leads Holmes and Dr. Watson into an intricate plot regarding a lost treasure belonging to four convicts on the Andaman Islands. Download and start listening now!