The Three Garridebs – Hounds Summary

Ralph Edwards – Fri, 8 Jul 1994

  • Would a knighthood have hampered Holmes in his work?
  • Did Watson suggest that the offer of a knighthood was attempted royal bribery?
  • Did the chairs at 221B make a bed preferable, or was it a new mattress?
  • Does Garrideb as a name suggest any nationality?
  • Were directories, other than telephone, available?
  • Why are initials rather than first names common in British (and Canadian) phone books?
  • Did Holmes deduce any personality from the responsive eyes?
  • Would a recently arrived person normally encounter pictures of Holmes?
  • What other business could have kept John Garrideb from finding Nathan promptly?
  • Was being clean-shaven reflective of circumstances or only of national style?
  • Should Watson have thought a 44-year-old to be quite a young man?
  • When does twilight occur in London in the latter part of June?
  • Why did Nathan tell John of the 6 p.m. visit when asked not to?
  • Why would cataloging take so long with items so well labeled and classified?
  • Why didn’t Holmes expect Nathan to tell John of his plans?
  • Were house agents apt to have evening hours?
  • Did Evans find building political influence impossible in England?
  • Should Watson have fired his revolver?
  • Why weren’t the owner, house agents or Mrs. Saunders curious about a sealed-off basement room?
  • Did Evans find entering through the basement impractical during his six or more months of freedom?
  • If he was so well supplied with funds, why did Prescott take a card game so seriously?
  • If they were so perfect, how did the Yard learn about the counterfeit notes?
  • What is a bolt-hole?
  • Why did Holmes have Watson make his telephone calls?

Chris Redmond – Sat, 21 Oct 1995

This tale has been recognized as sharing the plot of The Red-Headed League and The Stock-Broker’s Clerk. If indeed the plot is strong enough to be employed three times, which story makes the best use of it, and why?

Sonia Fetherston – Fri, 20 Mar 1998

It could be a comedy, or it could be a tragedy, or it could simply be the next story we peruse: The Adventure of the Three Garridebs. My weekly questions and comments as we begin the weekend:

  • Holmes refused the king’s offer of a knighthood. Do you think he would have accepted a title had one been offered by
  • Queen Victoria, during her reign?
  • Nathan Garrideb is a caricature of the eccentric Englishman. Is this particular caricature affectionate or ridiculous?
  • Wasn’t Evans’ “fatal flaw” simply that he’s not a Brit?
  • Notice all the bird imagery? How come it’s there; what does it add to this story?
  • Alexander Hamilton Garrideb was supposed to be an American with a fabulous bequest. The “Alexander Hamilton” part of his name was chosen after the man who was the United States Secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington. The name helped lend credibility to Evans’ story. But people sometimes forget that Alexander Hamilton —  the brilliant man who championed the systematic refunding and retirement of the US national debt — had insufficient funds to cover his own personal liabilities when he died. After his death, Hamilton’s friends charitably chipped in about $80,000 to pay off his obligations. Most of Hamilton’s own property ended up being sold off at auction to settle other bills and to provide for his impoverished widow and children. Biographer Robert A. Hendrickson notes that for Hamilton’s family “it was a mortifying sort of bankruptcy.” A far cry from A. H. Garrideb’s mythic millions.

Steve Clarkson – Fri, 21 May 1999

It was a whimsical thing that brought Holmes out of his bed, where he had stayed for the past several days. Not much of a challenge, on the surface — “Find a male adult named ‘Garrideb.'” Actually, three adult males with this improbable surname were required, but two were already at hand. All that stood between these two and a one-third share of fifteen million dollars was the lack of a third namesake, or so attorney John Garrideb’s story ran.

In a few minutes, the Mâitre de Chasse will sound the great hunting-horn and follow the Hounds in pursuit of a wily fox. This fox is not an ordinary one — he is a known killer. The trail will lead from Topeka, Kansas to the London home of an eccentric collector of all kinds of artifacts and at the end, even the redoubtable Watson will fall wounded by the quarry.

“Why,” said Nathan Garrideb, “I shall be the Hans Sloane of my age!” I fear that not everyone knows about Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), “The Great Collector” whose botanical and entymological specimens are housed in Britain’s Natural History Museum to this day. Sir Hans’ tastes and acquisitions were as far-ranging as his intellectual curiosity could take him, and in his time, he contributed mightily to mankind’s knowledge of the natural sciences. There is another Sherlockian connection to Sir Hans: “The Hans Sloane of My Age” was the Irregular Investiture of the late, beloved John Bennett Shaw.

This week’s story is a brief one as the adventures go, and it is a story in which there are no winners save perhaps the much-maligned C.I.D. of the London police force. Consider: Holmes got no fee; Watson was wounded (albeit superficially); “John Garrideb” a.k.a. Killer Evans went back to prison; and poor old Nathan Garrideb was consigned to a nursing home. With respect to the latter, a person with such catholic tastes and inquisitive mind surely deserved a more kindly fate.

In the second paragraph of the story, Watson casually informs us that Holmes had refused a knighthood for unspecified (but we can guess) services, ostensibly to the Crown. While we understand that Holmes is an intensely private person, such a declination would have been a rebuff to the Sovereign, who at this time was Edward VII. Would Holmes have refused the Honours List had the ruler been Victoria, the gracious lady whose initials adorned the wall at 221B?

Our introduction to “Mr. John Garrideb, Counsellor at Law” clearly gives the impression that this is an intelligent, imaginative person; someone to be reckoned with. Later on, Holmes referred to him as “clever”. But how intelligent, how clever could he be to have fallen prey to what were obviously trap questions posed by Holmes? And couldn’t he have devised a simpler scheme to inveigle Nathan Garrideb away from his “museum”? News of a well-preserved hominid fossil on Piltdown Commons, for example, or a fine example of a Syracusan coin on sale for a pittance in Land’s End? The more complex a scheme, the more parts of it there are to come undone, and Killer Evans’s plan unraveled within minutes of his meeting with Holmes.

Do we dare suppose that Holmes would have killed Evans had Watson been fatally wounded? Does this fit with what we know of the character of the Master Detective? Is it consistent with his action when he saw Watson reel after being shot by Evans — crashing his revolver down on Evans’ head instead of shooting him? Could he have done in cold blood what he did not do in hot blood?

Why did Watson say that “the counterfeiter stands in a class by himself as a public danger”? Granted that counterfeiting is a felony, in what way does it endanger the public? And what happened to the £200,000 in Prescott’s counterfeit bills? I note that the Yard was happy to discover his printing apparatus, but there was no further mention of the notes Prescott had already printed. Could it be that Holmes and Watson helped themselves before alerting the authorities?

Discover more about The Three Garridebs and read the canon.