I don't see me re-reading this in the future. It's not a bad book, just not compelling. Reading about Holmes going in deep with his cocaine addiction is not interesting. And Watson hoping the case they are looking into keeps Holmes engaged is not that interesting either. If anything, I would say this book was just a big step towards Watson's development of a character (he meets the woman who is to become his wife).
"The Sign of the Four" has a woman (Mary Morstan) coming to Holmes and Watson in order to find out why someone keeps sending her a pearl on the anniversary of her father's disappearance. Holmes agrees to take the case with he and Watson trying to track down what everything means.
I have to say though that there is so much coincidence in this book it was a little hard to swallow. Also there are just random things inserted in this story...one word, crocodile. I started to wonder if Doyle was on cocaine when writing this story.
We find out what happened to Mary's father, but I thought the whole thing sounded beyond hinky. And then from there we get to a young man who is behind sending Mary the pearls. I did want to go though really you decided in the end to send this woman a pearl a freaking year? Anyway, I could be here all day pointing out the weirdness and strange happenings in this story that defy common sense.
I can't say much about Holmes beyond his views on women are appalling (and normal for the time I would say) and him being on cocaine made me wonder how he could even complete deductions at all. It sounds sickly based on Watson's description of him in the book.
Watson seems a bit fed up at times with Holmes, but keeps hanging in there.
There's also a dog in this story (Toby) that made me think of the Agatha Christie book (Dumb Witness) which made me wish I was reading an Agatha Christie book.
The writing was okay, but the flow was off through the whole book.
Some lines in the book though made me go, how did we go from brilliant amateur detective in "A Study in Scarlet" to this I am so into cocaine person we get in "The Sign of the Four."
"Which is it to-day?" I asked,—"morphine or cocaine?" He raised his eyes languidly from the old black-letter volume which he had opened. "It is cocaine," he said,—"a seven-per-cent. solution. Would you care to try it?" "No, indeed," I answered, brusquely. "My constitution has not got over the Afghan campaign yet. I cannot afford to throw any extra strain upon it."
Gee. If someone I was living with was all here is some cocaine I would be out of there. Also is 7 percent a good thing or what? I am not a coke head so I don't know.
"None. Hence the cocaine. I cannot live without brain-work. What else is there to live for? Stand at the window here. Was ever such a dreary, dismal, unprofitable world? See how the yellow fog swirls down the street and drifts across the dun-colored houses. What could be more hopelessly prosaic and material? What is the use of having powers, doctor, when one has no field upon which to exert them? Crime is commonplace, existence is commonplace, and no qualities save those which are commonplace have any function upon earth."
By the way most of this book is Sherlock being a total pill.
"The division seems rather unfair," I remarked. "You have done all the work in this business. I get a wife out of it, Jones gets the credit, pray what remains for you?" "For me," said Sherlock Holmes, "there still remains the cocaine-bottle." And he stretched his long white hand up for it.
The setting of the book goes from England to India and I didn't get much a sense about India when we get bogged down with a re-telling of what went down with some of the characters we heard about earlier in the story.
I just found myself getting bored and when we get to the ending where all is revealed via dialogue. I was just glad to be done. What a weird story in the adventures of Holmes and Watson.