Sunday, April 29, 2012
Thoughts: The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
In the first page of the book, Arthur Conan Doyle describes how Sherlock Holmes happily shoots cocaine up his veins.
Now, that’s what I call an eye-opening experience.
At this point, I know I’m supposed to write about the mystery and what the hell the sign of four is, but I’m going to skip all that. See, it’s best to go into a Sherlock Holmes novel or story knowing virtually nothing about it. It keeps you guessing, on your toes so to speak. I’m just going to say that, like with A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle used flashbacks to pile a whole lot of backstory on the reader, but I think he’s the only writer I’ve ever encountered who can do it without seeming like a bore.
In A Study in Scarlet, we’re just getting to know Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, but, in The Sign of Four, we become more intimate with them. Exhibit A: We become aware of Sherlock Holmes’ cocaine habit. Exhibit B: We discover that Dr. Watson has a heart, and also happens to be a bit of a romantic.
In The Sign of Four, we meet Mary Morstan who might or might not be an heiress. I have to applaud Arthur Conan Doyle for his portrayal of her, because she’s not just another piece of fluff. She’s level-headed, and doesn’t faint at the slightest hint of murder. I can actually see why Watson likes her so much.
Meeting Mary Morstan actually made me more excited about meeting Irene Adler (no, I’m not talking about Rachel McAdams). Irene Adler is The Woman, the person said to be Sherlock Holmes’ equal in brains and cunning. I can’t wait to see how Arthur Conan Doyle portrays her.
Arthur Conan Doyle, methinks you might be a feminist.
Overall, I didn’t like the mystery that much, but I loved the more personal look at Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.