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The Sign of Four

Another Sherlock Holmes novel. This is the story about Holmes escapades on the search of missing Agra treasure.

Mary Marston starts receiving one pearl a year for past six years. Suddenly she receives a note saying ‘she was a wronged woman’ and she should meet a man who would compensate all the wrongs done to her. She can have two non-cop friends accompany her. With no one can trust she comes to Holmes. Whether they were able to find what was wronged her and the mystery behind the pearls she was receiving? Read on the book to find out.

One good thing about this novel is that there were not much clichés like Study in Scarlet, mainly because the plot was not much easier like the latter. I guess Conan Doyle himself felt that the first novel is more of the love and Holmes had very less part to play in it. He even did mention the same through Holmes in this novel that the first one was more of a love story which anyone can write.

When you read through ‘The Sign of the Four’, you could easily find that Doyle made sure that Holmes role is important than any of the characters involved in the mystery. For me, this is the novel that makes me think Homes as Hero. The details of the reasoning in the house of mystery were too detailed that would make you look for those if you have end up in any of the parallel situations. Particularly the chapters where he finds out the travel routes of the boat were ingeniously put in.

There is a flashback story in this novel as well, of course after finding out the guilty person. This time the story was not too great like that of Study in Scarlet which made me forget the Holmes adventure at all. Instead this one was a strange story setup in India where all the characters involved were negative.

This is another short novel of 120 odd pages which actually introduces Holmes as Hero. Doyle made sure no doubts would put up on that.

My Rating for this Sherlock Holmes novel is ★★★☆☆


A Study in Scarlet

Cover of the first edition of the book "A...

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I read this novel as part of Sherlock Holmes complete Novels and Short stories. My initial thought was to write a review for that book as a whole. But as I read through this huge collection it will be too difficult to tell about it in a single post. Moreover there are lots of free online copies available for each books, I decided to write reviews for each books as it were released.

Though I had read few of Sherlock Holmes stories way back, I did not remember anything other than he was an extraordinary detective who solves many cases with his simple reasoning when there were no modern equipments. The introduction in the book gives you the details of how much respect this character got during the time it published.

With all those in the mind, I read the first novel ‘A Study in Scarlett’. I should say I felt a bit disappointed to see the much hyped Sherlock Holmes introduced in such a novel where he reminded me of lot of policemen and detectives in various films where they pursue the hero.

Yes, in this novel, though Conan Doyle successfully introduced Holmes and his reasoning skills, when I read it fully, I felt he was the same old detective who tries to catch a good guy declaring ‘a crime is a crime.’

But as a story, this short novel (ran up to 120 pages in my hard copy) passes as a good one. Though there is nothing for you predict anything, this gives you a wonderful story.

But the problem is with these many years passed and the stories are very famous, you can expect many storytellers and film makers borrowed the idea. This is why the novel was full of clichés which we have seen in numerous films and stories.

We cannot blame Doyle for that. We need to blame the modern writers and directors who had stolen his imaginations. I would have given 4 stars had those clichés are not there.

My Rating for this intoroductory novel of Sherlock Holmes is ★★★☆☆


Cover of "Lolita (Penguin Modern Classics...

Cover of Lolita (Penguin Modern Classics)

This is the story of Humbert Humbert, the pervert and the little girl Lolita. This is the first story, I read, that is told by the antagonist. The story goes like Humbert, the convict, trying to give his account of events to prove his innocence. So, as per the story, the reader will not know whether all the things told by Humbert is true or not. This is something I liked a lot. You being put in the place of the jury and trying to find out whether Humbert is punishable or not.

When comes to the writing, the novel won the literary Nobel Prize by no luck. Nabokov is superb in his style of narration with the light-hearted narrations with subtle humor throughout the story is something pleasant to read. I wonder how I hate the character, Humbert, but still liked his narration. Here is where Nabokov succeeds.

The poetical way of storytelling is something you would hear a lot from those who read it. And it’s true. The novel is poetical in most of the places with lot of new words to add to your vocabulary. And in between there are actual poems also. Humbert was telling a poem to the opponent in the middle of a fight is the imagination to the core.

This Nobel Prize winning, controversial to the core, story is something that got me into mixed feelings. Whether you will like it or not? Not sure is the answer. I liked the novel though the plot is something not acceptable to many.

When you write some grumbling story of a pervert who likes a preadolescent girl and his incestuous relation with her and publish it as pure work of fiction, many would criticize you as the one with the pervert’s mind. Nabokov should have a lot of guts to publish it and in my opinion it worth it.

Though I could give more, the novel lost two ratings for the plot that may not be suitable for all. And I would say you read this novel, if you do not worry about the disturbing plot and you care much about the beautiful writing.

My rating for this book is ★★★☆☆


Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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Frankenstein is a novel that was written on 1818 by Mary Shelly. Gothic fiction is new to me. This is the first novel I read in this genre.  The story is about Frankenstein, a scientist, who creates a monster in his research of giving life to some inanimate object and the horror he faces because of that monster.

It was a superbly written book that you will not feel bored while reading it. The novel contains three stories. One is of Frankenstein, other being the story of Walton to whom Frankenstein tells about his story and there is another one, the story about cottagers that was told by the monster to Frankenstein. The other two stories could be published as short stories or novellas on their own.

I read that the book was a bold attempt at 1818. But now you may feel there is nothing controversial, but 200 years ago, you never know.

Author tries to make you sympathize with the monster instead of fearing him. In my case, she succeeded.   When the monster explains his story, you will definitely feel sorry for him.

If you are accustomed to modern-day thrillers, like me, you may feel his most of the narration of his childhood are irrelevant to the actual story, though not boring. But when the title reads ‘Frankenstein’, we can conclude that it is the story of Frankenstein who created the monster as part of his experiment, not of the monster. So we cannot say that his childhood is not related.

Mary Shelly is too good in describing the sceneries.  Be it Geneva or Swiss mounts or the Rhine or the beautiful places in England and Scotland, all were described so neatly that you can imagine it well in your mind while reading, also it induces the traveler in you to try to visit these places.

I would suggest this to anyone who has the habit of reading.

My Rating for this classic is ★★★★☆

The Return of The Soldier

Cover of "The Return of the Soldier"

Cover of The Return of the Soldier

I was avoiding classics thinking they might be quite difficult to match my taste. But thankfully this book was chosen as January group read in the goodreads group. This book kindled my interest towards classics. Return of the soldier is a simple novel that deals with the emotions of the people in rather unusual situation.

The story line is simple. There was a guy, Chris, who loses his 15 years of memory due to the sudden shock while on duty. He thinks himself as 21 year old again and he forgets everything including his marriage.  The main line was about the three women, Kittie – his wife, Jenny – his cousin and Margaret – his erstwhile love that was broken 15 years ago and their emotions when they knew his memory was 15 years back when he was in love with Margaret, who now married to someone else.

In this novel, the story was told in the view of Jenny who was a confused soul, not explaining whether her affection towards Chris is a love or just adoration. This type of storytelling is quite new for me. As the story was told by Jenny, the characters explained as how Jenny thinks, not the actual one.

The novel deals with the human minds on some serious situations so it is somewhat going a bit slow. But it is a short novel- Just 46 pages in the e-book I downloaded – so you will not feel it is dragging.

The book was written in early 20th century, so you may feel some of the things are not relevant to the current advanced world. But the feelings of the human mind would never change even after a century, wouldn’t it?

I cannot comment about the classic writers, obviously their books are still readable because of their ingenious writing. The definitions of the Chris’ house and the Monkey Island are poetic.   

I recommend this book if you want an emotional story that deals with human nature of people that are from various backgrounds.

My rating for ‘Return of The Solder’ would be ★★★☆☆

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