Gavin F (gavluvsga) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Gavin F

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Book #24:The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Number of pages: 153

The part I found particularly shocking about this Sherlock Holmes novel was that fact that in the opening chapter, Holmes was portrayed as a cocaine addict. I'm not sure what the public view towards cocaine was back in 1890 when this book was first published, but certainly the sight of Dr. Watson catching Holmes using it in this book is somewhat alarming.

However, this is largely irrelevant in a story that introduces the character of Mary Morstan, who has been receiving pearls from some unknown person. So, inevitably I assumed I was reading a book about a stalker.

It turns out I was wrong about that...

The discovery of the sender leads Holmes and Watson to a tale involving murder and stolen treasure, which Mary is apparently entitled to a share in. This all discovered, the story turns into a standard Sherlock Holmes novel, with Dr. Watson narrating the events, and I found it just as enjoyable as any others that I had read.

The structure of this book was a bit strange in that the main plot was more or less wrapped up about three quarters of the way in, with the final chapter (which is longer than the others) dealing with the truth behind the initial discovery of the treasure; a safari story almost reminiscent of King Solomon's Mines.

There were also a few plot twists, some more unexpected than others:

[Spoiler (click to open)]

1. The treasure chest turning out to empty at the end, and no one knowing where the treasure was.
2. Mary Morstan ends up as Watson's lover (it is hinted early on that he has a crush on her), and they end up engage; I suspected this would happen from seeing the BBC series.

Overall, a decent novel and worth reading; it is very short too, and shouldn't take long to read.

Next book: The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon by Washington Irving
Tags: 19th century literature, addiction, drugs, murder mystery, mystery

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