The Sign Of Four
Arthur Conan Doyle
When Mary Morstan consults Sherlock Holmes on a curious mystery, he is intrigued and anxious to help her. The young governess explains that since the disappearance of her father ten years earlier, she has received a valuable pearl each year from an unknown donor. The sender then asks to meet Mary and she realises that she needs an escort. Holmes and Watson accompany Mary to her encounter with the stranger, who tells them a tale of secrecy, hidden treasure and sudden death. But there is a further death and only the brilliant Sherlock Holmes has the intellect and skill to uncover the real villain.
Author biography:Arthur Conan Doyle The creator of Sherlock Holmes, the world's most famous literary detective. Born in Scotland, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a practising doctor when he began to write tales of mystery and adventure.
In addition to the Sherlock Holmes stories, Conan Doyle also wrote the Professor Challenger adventures, and his classic, The Lost World, is one of the original fantasy novels.
Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) was born in Edinburgh and studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh's Medical School. Graduating in 1881, he set up practice as an occultist, but as patients proved elusive he turned to writing. An important influence upon his literary career was his professor, Dr Joseph Bell, who could observe the most minute detail regarding a patient's condition. This master of deduction became the model for Conan Doyle's legendary literary creation, the detective Sherlock Holmes, introduced in A Study in Scarlet in 1887.
Conan Doyle also espoused spiritualism and devoted considerable time and effort to a campaign of support for this cause. He also wrote successfully in genres other than detective fiction. His non-fiction includes military writing on the Boer War and pamphlets on spiritualism.
It is known that he felt constricted at times by the popularity of Holmes, but it is nevertheless for Sherlock Holmes and his foil, the ponderous Dr Watson that he is best remembered. As Sherlock Holmes was the first detective to solve cases by deduction rather than due to an error by the criminal, Conan Doyle can be credited with creating the modern detective novel.
He was knighted in 1902 for his support of the British cause in the Boer Wars. After the death of his son in the First World War, he devoted the rest of his life to spiritualism on which he wrote and lectured.