"The Sign of the Four" is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's follow-up to his immensely successful "A Study in Scarlet," where we first meet one of the most famous literary detectives of all time, Sherlock Holmes. "The Sign of the Four" is the mystery surrounding the disappearance Miss Mary Morstan's father. Every year on the anniversary of Miss Morstan's father's disappearance, Mary receives an anonymous gift of a priceless pearl. Miss Morstan solicits the help of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson to unravel the identity and motive of her anonymous benefactor.
Utdrag ur boken:
By the table in a wooden armchair the master of the house was seated all in a heap, with his head sunk upon his left shoulder and that ghastly, inscrutable smile upon his face. He was stiff and cold and had clearly been dead many hours. It seemed to me that not only his features but all his limbs were twisted and turned in the most fantastic fashion. [...] Beside it was a torn sheet of note-paper with some words scrawled upon it. Holmes glanced at it and then handed it to me.
"You see," he said with a significant raising of the eyebrows.
In the light of the lantern I read with a thrill of horror, "The sigh of the four."
"In God's name, what does it mean?" I asked.
"It means murder," said he, stooping over the dead man. "Ah! I expected it. Look here!"
He pointed to what looked like a long dark thorn stuck in the skin just above the ear.
"It looks like a thorn," said I.
"It is a thorn. You may pick it out. But be careful, for it is poisoned."
I took it up between my finger and thumb. It came away from the skin so readily that hardly any mark was left behind. One tiny speck of blood showed where the puncture had been.
"This is all an insoluble mystery to me," said I. "It grows darker instead of clearer."
"On the contrary," he answered, "it clears every instant. I only require a few missing links to have an entirely connected case."