Thursday, April 19, 2012
The Sign of Four
I've got to admit- I was rather disappointed with this story. It wasn't one of the ones I was familiar with before, and I think that there was probably a good reason for that.
I decided to read the Sherlock Holmes stories in publishing order, so next on my list was The Sign of Four was next on my list. I was rather excited to read it, as it had a thoroughly intriguing title, and wasn't a story I was familiar with in the least bit.
There's a reason I wasn't familiar with it- it was rather disappointing. The mystery was fabulous, the clues were tantalizing, and the wrap up was a surprise. The love story sub-plot? Absolutely horrendous. I'm not one who believes in love at first sight anyways, but this was just poorly written. Don't get me wrong, I adore love stories. I live for happy endings. What I don't live for is poorly written romance. I'm a firm believer that an author shouldn't clutter an otherwise wonderful novel with writing they can't do well. It's one thing to practice an area you're not good at, it's another to force it on an unsuspecting reader.
J.K. Rowling was my first memorable example of this. I absolutely adored the first few books in the Harry Potter series. Once she started incorporated romance (in my experience, a monstrous feeling in the pit of your stomach usually has more to do with indigestion than love), the books quickly went down hill. She's an absolutely fabulous author, incredibly imaginative and excellent at writing action and dialogue. Romance? Not so much. The books would have been so much better without all of that detail. I'm not saying an author entirely skip out on something like that, as it is often enough an integral part of the plot. What I am saying is don't dwell on it for pages and pages.
The "romance" in this book essentially equated to Watson seeing Mary and deciding he loved her because she was pathetic. While Monkey may jokingly expound on my cuteness when I'm being pathetic, it certainly wasn't why he fell in love with me. The author just really missed the mark with that subplot. I really didn't enjoy it, and it generally detracted from the entire book. It doesn't help that you barely see the relationship between Watson and Holmes at all, yet we have to listen to Watson snivel about some random girl off the street. Uh, okay. I know that his marriage is somewhat used as a strain on their relationship in later stories, which is something I am looking forward to because, well, he'll actually have a relationship with Holmes.
I think I'm rambling at this point. Basically, I was disappointed. The end. Hopefully the next book will be better.