As I slowly continue to work my way through the complete works of the world’s most famous detective through the hands of his creator, I find myself kind of grateful that so many others have attempted to capture his essence in so many different means. I say that because I have loved all Sherlock Holmes related entertainment for so long, and I’d never want to give it up. But if I’d started out with the original books, I would have certainly never wanted to keep going back for more. Alas, maybe I’m being a little extremist here.
The sign of four held itself up as much better than its predecessor for over 80% of the book. The case is intriguing, we’re introduced to Holmes’ not quite recreational drug use, and the whole mystery set up is very compelling. I thoroughly enjoyed it, in the beginning of the book, when Sherlock Holmes presents Watson with the exact same criticism to A Study of Scarlet as I had. As the case gets underway, we see for the first time the efforts of our detective not having the expected results, which I’m not gonna lie, I found refreshing. Until the blatant racism of the time rears its ugly head again.
Maybe I just need to limit myself to reading books written in this century if I’m becoming overly sensitive to shit, but honestly, having an “islander”, i.e. a murderous and horrible and monster from a tribe of the ugliest people who ever lived and can be recognized by their strangely shaped feet is just too much for me. Not to mention he is so inferior to his English companions he is killed off with no compunction without having spoken a single line throughout the entire book. It is clear that Conan Doyle does not consider him to be a human being.
Also, on a way less annoying note, but still quite bizarre, Watson gets a girlfriend in this novel. And I reiterate my plea to all good mystery writers: please don’t try to write romance – you really don’t know how.