Friday, October 11, 2013
The Sign of the Four
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote four full novels about the world's most famous detective, along with anthologies of short stories. I've already written about the first one, A Study in Scarlet, and my newfound affection for Mr. Holmes. I recently finished the second full novel, The Sign of the Four, and am now making my way through The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. You may have to put up with the mysteries of Victorian England for a while. But if you've read my blog for any amount of time, you've learned to put up with a great deal of England anyway, so here we go.
The Sign of the Four begins with the classic woman in distress who, as all of Holmes' clients, has an unsolvable problem. Her father has gone missing, and now someone in connection with the disappearance wants to meet her at a specific time and place. Not knowing what to do, she turns to the original dynamic duo, Holmes and Watson, for help. (Sorry, kids have been watching a lot of Old School Batman lately.) So ensues a tale of mystery, treachery, and romance, with Holmes solving what on the surface appears to be an impossible problem - but of course, once he explains it, it's all really quite simple, you know.
These books are just plain fun. There's a reason everyone loves Sherlock Holmes. Who doesn't love seeing an impossible problem solved? Crime shows are very popular right now. Sherlock is the original Jethro Gibbs, the original CSI. The story will twist and turn until finally it all comes together in the final scene. This book has some additional perks in that we get to see more of a glimspe into Watson and his private life - the end of the story sees him making some major happy life changes, and it's fun when your favorite characters find joy and happiness.
Once again, there are some dark moments that remind you that you are dealing with 19th century text. Part of the backstory takes place in India, and the way Doyle describes native Indians is atrocious. It may have been totally acceptable in the 1800s, but it is simply unaccetable by any modern standard. Read these parts keeping the context of the story in mind - it's not ok, but that's the way it was in that time and place.
Sherlock Holmes is easy to read, lots of fun, and a classic for the ages. If you haven't checked him out yet, you should get on board.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
What I'm reading now: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (Just got The Complete Novels of Jane Austen in the mail via paperbackswap.com)
2. Israel: A History by Martin Gilbert
3. The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George
4. Forgotten God by Francis Chan
5. Crazy Love by Francis Chan