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3.57 out of 53.57 out of 53.57 out of 53.57 out of 53.57 out of 5 3.57 (82 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Arthur Conan Doyle Narrator: Ralph Cosham Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Sherlock Holmes Series Release Date: June 2010 ISBN: 9781455197583
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In this second Sherlock Holmes novel, the indomitable sleuth is visited by a woman in distress. Each year for the past six years, on the anniversary of her father’s mysterious disappearance ten years ago, Miss Mary Morstan has been receiving pearls, she knows not why or from whom. This time, her anonymous benefactor wants to meet. In the letter, he promises to reveal the mystery and to “right the wrongs” against her. “If you distrust me,” he writes, “bring two friends.” And so she approaches Holmes and Watson. Naturally the great detective cannot pass up such a singular puzzle, so he and Watson agree to accompany her to the mysterious meeting. The ensuing investigation turns up a wronged woman, a stolen hoard of Indian treasure, a wooden-legged ruffian, a helpful dog, and a love affair.

From London to India and back again, this case once more reveals the incomparable talents of the world’s only consulting detective.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Of all the Holmes stories it is The Sign of the Four which remains persistently in my memory.”

    Graham Greene

  • “In The Sign of the Four Sir Arthur Conan Doyle weaves a story that stretches from London to India…Holmes finds himself enmeshed in a crime involving two murders, a wooden-legged man, a budding love story, and the theft of an Indian treasure. Add to this a depiction of Colonial India during the time of the 1857 rebellion and you have one of the more intriguing Holmes stories…Three-time Audie nominee, Ralph Cosham, in a voice reminiscent of Nigel Bruce who played Dr. Watson in early Hollywood films of the Holmes canon, brings the right tenor and feeling to the work. This is classic, well executed and well worth visiting again.”

    SoundCommentary.com

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrew | 2/20/2014

    " This was a great story. I actually found myself more amused by Doyle's colorful characters than by the mystery itself. Dr. Watson is often so stoic that it's hilarious, and I loved the pompous inspector, the hypochondriac hookah addict and the surly one legged man. This book is great deal of fun to read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Krista | 2/20/2014

    " If I could give five stars to characters, then Sherlock Holmes is a five-star character. A morphine-taking, violin-playing manic depressive who always manages to deduce the impossible. This story was good in the beginning, but it seemed to lose steam as Watson's narrative lost Holmes. I think the fault was in the fact that the exposition was longer than the adventure. However, for a mystery of just 100 pages, it was fun. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Corry L. | 2/19/2014

    " I really enjoy Dr. Watson's narration and I find the Holmes novels quite enjoyable. This novel fortunately avoids the mind-numbing tedium of non-Watsonian narration that made A Study in Scarlet unfinishable for me. The version I read (not this one) has excellent and hilarious footnotes, as well. Apparently there's a whole field of Holmsian scholarship in which people treat Holmes and Watson as real people and chastise Watson for all his inaccuracies and inconsistencies. Very odd. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cameron | 2/17/2014

    " This is a good book but I was glad that it was short. There was a great deduction part at the begining that I read over and over. the mystery itself was good but not as I hoped it would be. the explination at the end was OK but I still was able to read it through with no problems. Again Doyle needs to give us the background of the bad guy and he really needs to stop doing that. A good quick read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 DC | 2/17/2014

    " The story's pretty cool, with the detective work and the boat race really exciting. It gets pretty rambly and long at some part though... ^^; "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matt | 2/15/2014

    " Outstanding. One of my favorite Holmes' stories "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephanie | 2/7/2014

    " I think I'm reading these books wrong because I'm not thaaaaat interested in the mysteries. I could read a whole novel with Holmes and Watson just talking about stuff. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Desiree | 1/31/2014

    " I was disappointed; this being my first Sherlock Holmes book, I expected more mystery and plot twists. Instead, there was a little bit of mystery but the story was pretty straight-forward and the end was completely unrelated to Holmes. Overall, it was okay but I don't think I'll be reading another Holmes story any time soon. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 TheRebelReads | 1/31/2014

    " The book begins and ends with Sherlock Holmes enjoying some cocaine because of boredom. Yes, our dear consulting detective is into drugs! I enjoyed reading 'The Sign of the Four' but it was not spectacular. I would choose 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' anytime. Doyle's trademark plot twists and air of suspense are somewhat lacking in this book. A lot of the questions were either obvious or immediately answered. However this a must read for Sherlock Holmes fans because this book gives us more perspective on his character and skills. Dr. Watson falls in love and of course, no one wants to miss that! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jon | 1/26/2014

    " Certainly more action packed than the first story, but paradoxically not as exciting or as well written of a mystery. Still good fun! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jen | 1/25/2014

    " I liked it and definitely plan to read more Sherlock stories but the exposition at the end got tiresome to me and slowed down the whole pace of the story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deb | 1/22/2014

    " Very interesting to compare with BBCs Sherlock episode, "The Blind Banker.". Moffat, et al, gave it a great modern twist, but still left out a great deal which kept the original interesting. I'm eager to see if they incorporate the meeting of John and Mary at some point. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wayne Zill | 1/17/2014

    " Another excellent Sherlock Holmes novel! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ben | 1/13/2014

    " Who knew Sherlock Holmes did so much coke? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vicky | 1/10/2014

    " Excellent. I haven't read "A Study in Scarlet" yet, but this book did not require much of an introduction anyways. I like the writing style as well; the author provides good descriptions and a bit of humor scattered throughout the story. Great book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauren | 1/6/2014

    " Enjoyed this one much, much more than A Study in Scarlet. This one had humor I could recognize, Holmes and Watson felt like Holmes and Watson to me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anthony D Buckley | 1/2/2014

    " Sherlock Holmes can just do no wrong. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laura Jackson | 1/2/2014

    " Another great Holmes book. I loved the introduction of Mary into the story! My problems with the story are pretty much the same as A Study in Scarlet. I was looking for the clues so I could try my hand at solving the mystery myself, but we have to be told by Holmes or the criminal what exactly happened. I guess that is just Doyle's style. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ben | 12/16/2013

    " Who knew Sherlock Holmes did so much coke? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danny | 12/16/2013

    " I'd never read any of the Sherlock Holmes books, and decided it was time to try them out. I'm reading my way through them in the correct order - and The Sign Of Four is second. In many senses it is just what you expect - the language and assumptions of the age, the strict class hierarchy, and many of the cliches with which we are familiar through the countless television adaptations and the cultural place that Holmes and Watson still hold. But there is still freshness in the stories despite the fact that you think you 'know' them already. The relationship between Holmes and Watson which develops as you progress through the books - the sometimes unexpected, sometimes bleeding obvious, twists in the tales. There is also some very funny dialogue - some intentionally, and some not. Definitely worth a read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sophie | 12/7/2013

    " 3.5 stars. Didn't really like this one as much as the other Sherlock Holmes I've read but it was still really good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liz | 12/3/2013

    " Didn't love this one as much as I loved A Study in Scarlet. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julia | 11/27/2013

    " My second Sherlock Holmes. I haven't read many mystery novels (or whatever this should be called) and can't compare this with many others, but I really enjoyed it. :) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Abasi | 11/23/2013

    " Pretty good, who knew Sherlock was a coke fiend? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bronwen | 11/22/2013

    " Another very clever novel, although the dated racial comments were a bit uncomfortable to read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda Lopossa | 11/21/2013

    " I love all these stories . Say what you will this character is always entertaining "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Natalie Gamble | 11/12/2013

    " My favorite part of the book was the end when Sherlock explained his logic and how he solved the case. Everything becomes so simple and matter of fact when he explains it. Fun read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Duane | 11/6/2013

    " Re-read this for the first time since I was in junior high, I think. Pretty good, but it's only ACD's second outing for Holmes, so not in the highest rank. I prefer the Holmes stories to the novels, actually. Still, it's hard to beat Holmes on the track of a murder mystery. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark | 11/5/2013

    " Ending seemed a bit lacking for me. Not as good a story as Study in Scarlet. Pictures, lettering as good as ever. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Megan | 10/28/2013

    " Tonga was...a little over the top. And I like over the top for the most part. But the descriptions of this guy made me physically uncomfortable. Modern standards, I guess. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marsha | 10/17/2013

    " I hadn't read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for decades so I was surprised that this was such a pleasurable read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lisa | 10/13/2013

    " Eh maybe I shouldn't have read the two back to back. This one didn't pull me in like the other at all. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elliott James | 9/27/2013

    " It would be hard to argue that anything written by the genius, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was anything but 5 stars. Interesting case, but once again, Holmes just sets my literature-lovin' heart on fire. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Irna Gayatri D. Ardiansyah | 9/23/2013

    " Dr. Watson menemukan cintanya di sini. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica Petree | 9/22/2013

    " **This book is not the same edition that I read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 9/18/2013

    " I wonder if I would have enjoyed Sherlock Holmes when he was new, or if it's just the nostalgia that keeps me going? He is frequently very schlocky, especially when it comes to heightening the exoticism of foreign cultures. I suppose it was the style of the times. And yet, I love him. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jules | 9/16/2013

    " When I decided to make my way through the Holmes Canon I was a bit disappointed by the first book. The second however was much better! The Sign of Four was amazing and intriguing. One of a good many Holmes stories that stands the test of time! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rebecca | 8/29/2013

    " i enjoy reading the sherlock holmes books more than i thought i would. if anyone wants to start, the download versions are free. you can't beat that. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erin | 8/28/2013

    " Not as engaging as I expected. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joy | 8/19/2013

    " I liked this a little less than A Study in Scarlet. The story includes a dubious inheritance, murder (of course), cocaine, and even a little romance. The action is swift and Watson further illuminates Holmes' character. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jason | 8/12/2013

    " Not as good as A Study in Scarlet but still enjoyable. It's great reading the Master of mystery do his thing. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Megan | 6/11/2013

    " This was such a disappointment. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 5/28/2013

    " Good Sherlock Holmes fare. Very interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nick Marsh | 4/9/2013

    " Classic & interesting Holmes mystery, but I feel Holmes suits short 'casebook' stories better than the novels "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ahmed | 3/22/2013

    " Its some classical fictional master piece "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bungo | 3/14/2013

    " A rollicking mystery where even Holmes doesn't know all the details until the final confession. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mariannne | 2/23/2013

    " Fun mystery, better than A Study in Scarlet. Ol' Sherlock's little idiosyncracies are starting to come out in full force, though. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Amy | 2/20/2013

    " Was really slow. I was reading it with my husband and he even stopped reading half way through. I at least had to finish it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erin | 1/26/2013

    " time to dredge the river! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rose | 12/18/2012

    " I really enjoyed reading this book in high school! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kean Soo | 11/18/2012

    " More of the same, but different. The actual mystery itself isn't quite as compelling, but now we've got (spoilers?) Holmes on coke, a treasure hunt, chases down the Thames, Holmes & Watson shooting people, and even a little bit of romance to keep us entertained. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Richard | 8/15/2012

    " Could have used less action, more detection work by Holmes. About the last third of the book is a chase, then a LONG exposition speech by the criminal in the best Scooby Doo tradition-he does everything but say, "And I would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for you meddling detective!" "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Zina Skora | 7/2/2012

    " Enjoyed it couldn't put it down "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shana Rivera | 6/26/2012

    " i had to read this for school........ its okay. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 jobiwan6 | 6/4/2012

    " see "a study in scarlet" "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Missy | 3/27/2012

    " I was looking for something short yet engaging to keep up my reading chops; this just seemed to make sense. I don't remember much of when I first read anything about Holmes, so thought I'd revisit it. So far, so good. He's pretty cavalier about his cocaine addicition though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chris Aldrich | 3/10/2012

    " A better outing than Conan Doyle's first Holmes novel, but I think I still prefer reading the shorter stories more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nev Thomas | 2/10/2012

    " Excellent Holmes mystery.I have read it before but still enjoyable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ann E | 12/31/2011

    " Always good for a quick read. Very interesting following him through the crime to the solution. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sancaka | 11/13/2011

    " too bad for the view of andaman people, good book though "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 10/31/2011

    " Great fun. A twisty plot that begins in exotic India (though our heroes don't leave London) and features a gentle and very funny romance for Watson. Worth reading if only for the character development, but fortunately there's so much more. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Avril | 10/12/2011

    " Not too great a mystery, rather a tad misery. But it's Sherlock Holmes. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jf Foronda | 9/15/2011

    " Just doesn't grip me. On hold for now. Let's see if I get back to it later. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Thomas | 8/25/2011

    " Very interesting book was exciting the whole way through. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 hannah | 8/9/2011

    " I found this one better than A study of scarlet. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brandon Smith | 6/29/2011

    " If you've read any other Sherlock Holmes story/novel, you'll know what to expect. An added bonus is a fantastic chase scene. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kadja | 6/28/2011

    " Quite interesting and enjoyable. A good, solid second book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Keenan | 6/28/2011

    " this was a very good mystery. i enjoyed it allot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andre | 6/14/2011

    " Sherlock is cool, especially in The Sign of Four. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 keri. | 5/30/2011

    " this book is full of the fail that comes from historical fiction written over a hundred years ago, and it made me a little squirmy. THAT BEING SAID, HELLO MARY MORSTAN, BE MINE FOREVER. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ellen Janoski | 5/25/2011

    " Not as suspenseful as others. This book is where you get introduced to Toby the dog! And also discover Holmes's love affair with cocaine. Ha. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Laura | 5/20/2011

    " The art is astounding but I'd forgotten the plot hinged on a "hideous native." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Georgesear | 5/12/2011

    " Liked this one quite alot, I thought it was better than A Study in Scarlet. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Szeireil | 3/5/2011

    " Classic. I love Holmes. And I love him even more while I can see he's drug addict. However, I prefer shorter stories. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 9/21/2010

    " Another read aloud with the kids, I liked it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carrie Jones | 6/24/2010

    " Yup, still a lover of Holmes. :) I look forward to ALL the rest of the stories! "

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About the Author
Author Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) was born of Irish parentage in Scotland. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, but he also had a passion for storytelling. His first book introduced that prototype of the modern detective in fiction, Sherlock Holmes. Despite the immense popularity Holmes gained throughout the world, Doyle was not overly fond of the character and preferred to write other stories. Eventually popular demand won out and he continued to satisfy readers with the adventures of the legendary sleuth. He also wrote historical romances and made two essays into pseudoscientific fantasy: The Lost World and The Poison Belt.

About the Narrator

Ralph Cosham (1936–2014), a.k.a. Geoffrey Howard, was a British journalist who changed careers to become a narrator and screen and stage actor. He performed in more than one hundred professional theatrical roles, and several of his narrations were named “Audio Best of the Year” by Publishers Weekly. In 2013 he won the coveted Audie Award for his narration of Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery.