This was my least favorite of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries; I actually didn’t really like it. The story was dark and creepy, I hated the savage character for many reasons, and the ending was unsatisfactory. The only slight gleam of light was Watson’s darling little romance and Holmes’ slightly mischievous attitude about it…he just doesn’t miss a thing even when he doesn’t say much about it. That is a big difference between the original stories and Sherlock. Sherlock loves to point out everything he notices (such as the fact that he knew Donovan and Anderson were having an office affair) to show off or hit back, and yes, lots of these people…Donovan, I hate her…are cruel to him, but the real Holmes was above all that; he was MUCH more noble period than his flatter, less developed modern reincarnation. I digress.
Much of what was in the story was more gross and chilling than I could handle (and I just read something truly horrifying in the news–something that to me was the most horrific thing I have ever read–so I was extra sensitive at the time of reading). The tide of the mystery still carried me on, but I felt that the suspense was not fulfilled or justified by the ending.
I did not feel any empathy whatsoever for this criminal and his back story did not seem overly intricate. He was a cold-blooded murderer, so his disgust at his savage and the unnecessary death didn’t ring quite true. The only thing of pulling interest in the main part of the plot was the fact that the jewels were at the bottom of the Thames. How infuriating but above the commonplace.
After I read The Valley of Fear, I noticed that someone pointed out that most of the story was not focused on Holmes. In that particular story I was fine with that because the mystery of that back story was ah-mazing! I have to wonder though, if I would have liked The Sign of Four better if Holmes was shown to the best advantage.