"a" most dark and sinister business


While I read “The Adventures of Speckled Band” by Doyle, There’s a sentence like “It seems to me to be a most dark and sinister business.”

Is it grammatical to say “a most ~”? There are severely dark and sinister businesses and the case must be one of the most serious cases. What do you think? Also, how about “It seems to me to be a darkest and most sinister business.”? Is it awkward?

Thank you in advance,

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This is fine. The short version is:
It seems to be a business.
All the rest are modifiers.

It seems to me to be a darkest and most sinister business.

‘A’ means one of many. ‘The’ is used when it is one specific thing.
Superlatives like darkest and most sinister are specific, not one of many. There can only be one ‘darkest’ or ‘most sinister’. So you would use ‘the’.

*It seems to me to be the darkest and most sinister business.

Edit: I just realized this might be confusing about superlatives.

“A most” is not really a superlative. It’s just a way of saying a very dark and sinister business. As a native speaker I know this, but it’s hard to explain. The word ‘most’ is sometimes used in place of very.

You are most welcome. ( probably as a reply to thank-you )
This means you are welcome, but it emphasizes it. It means you really are welcome and the speaker means it sincerely.

Most assuredly
Again, this is not superlative. It adds more emphasis and a higher degree of confidence.

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