Saturday, March 10, 2012

Annotation 2: Mystery/Classic—Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

~Sherlock Holmes~

A Study in Scarlet


The Sign of the Four

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics)

To buy this swanky edition click here

A Study in Scarlet

Setting: London, England and Salt Lake City, Utah

Time Period: 1880s

Genre: Detective Mystery, Classic

Tone/Mood: Suspenseful

Writing Style: Varies. Highly detailed, compelling, and (at times) faster paced.

Series: First Sherlock Holmes novel. Published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual, 1887.


Part 1-London, England

It is here in this story that we read how dynamic duo of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson meet and become not only roommates but also forensic scientists solving murders. Dr. Watson, a surgeon in the British Army has just been discharged due to injury. He returns to London only to find he has nowhere to stay. Upon running into an old friend he discovers that another man, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, is in need of a roommate in order to split the high cost of a flat in London. Not long after this unlikely pair move into their famed flat on Baker Street than Watson learns just how peculiar Holmes really is. Having no formal training or degree as well as not being employed by anyone in particular, Holmes somehow has organized a group of less-fortunates as his network of spies while he gathers key evidence no one else seems to see to solve a strange murder.

Part 2-Salt Lake City, Utah

Beginning in what seems a hopeless situation we find a man and a small child, the only two survivors of their traveling party, on the edge of death in the desert. Out of water and food the man believes he will soon be dead and the girl after him. They fall asleep, the man believing to never wake up, when suddenly they see thousands of settlers on their way through the desert who have stopped to assist them. His fateful decision to go join their party has devastating consequences years down the road that provide our murderer from Part 1 with his motive. Will you empathize or wish him punishment? Read to find out!

The Sign of the Four (also, The Sign of Four)

Setting: London, England and various places in India.

Time Period: 1887

Genre: Detective Mystery, Classic

Tone/Mood: Suspenseful, begins a bit Darker and Bleaker than Doyle’s first story.

Writing Style: Varies. Highly detailed, compelling, and (at times) faster paced.

Series: Second Sherlock Holmes novel. Published in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, 1890.


Sherlock Holmes is a broken man with no new cases to occupy his mind he has turned to drugs. After months of watching Holmes’ decline, the irritated and uncomfortable Dr. Watson finally decides to confront him. During the conversation while Holmes demonstrates his incredible gift of observation, a new client, Miss Mary Morstan, arrives with an intriguing case. The elated Holmes jumps on the case which involves a missing father, strange letters in the mail containing pearls, treasure from India, a wooden-legged man, and poisoned blow-darts. Full of action and intrigue, this Sherlock Holmes installment does not disappoint.

Other works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:


The Great Shadow (1888)

My Friend the Murderer and Other Mysteries and Adventures (1893)

The Lost World (1912)


The War in South Africa—Its Cause and Conduct (1902)

The Coming of Fairies (1921)

The Edge of the Unknown (1930)

Sherlock Holmes by other authors:

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes by Loren Estleman (1979)

Sherlock Holmes, My Life and Crimes by Michael Hardwick (1984)

Sherlock Holmes: the Unauthorized Biography by Nick Rennison (2006)


  1. Love Sherlock Holmes! I got to visit his Baker Street address, which is a little museum dedicated to his character, when I was in London many years ago.

    Have you seen the BBC series Sherlock set in modern day London? It is really good. I know some people don't like taking characters out of their historical periods but I think the treatment can grant an immediacy that we sometimes miss in classics. Anyway, they have the series sometimes on WFYI Masterpiece Mystery and then I think on BBC America sometimes.

    1. So jealous! I would love to visit the UK. I am addicted to BBCAmerica but I haven't seen the Sherlock series yet. I have seen previews but wasn't sure if I would like it or not. Thank you for the recommendation, I will definitely be checking this out!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.