"The Adventure Of The Three Garridebs" is one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is one of 12 stories in the cycle collected as The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes and was originally published in The Strand Magazine in 1924.
Sherlock Holmes is called into a search for a man named Garrideb. This seemingly simple search turns into one of the most peculiar cases faced by Sherlock Holmes.
Holmes receives a letter from a Nathan Garrideb of 156 Little Ryder Street, asking for help in a most peculiar quest. He is looking for another man with his unusual surname, for it will mean a $5,000,000 inheritance for him. He has been approached by another man, John Garrideb of Kansas, who says that he needs to find others with the same last name.
The American Garrideb comes to see Holmes and Watson at 221B Baker Street, and is apparently not very pleased that Nathan Garrideb has involved a detective. Garrideb, who claims to be a lawyer, spins a ridiculous story about Alexander Hamilton Garrideb, a millionaire land tycoon he met in Kansas. Hamilton Garrideb bequeathed his $15,000,000 estate to John Garrideb on the provision that he find two more Garridebs to share it with equally. He came to England to seek out people with the name, having failed in his own country. So far, he has found only Nathan.
During the interview, Holmes detects many discrepancies in John Garrideb's story, but decides not to confront Garrideb. This piques Holmes's interest, and he decides to contact Nathan Garrideb to investigate further. Upon arrival at Little Ryder Street, Holmes observes Nathan Garrideb's nameplate outside the house. It has obviously been there for years; so Holmes concludes that Garrideb is at least his true surname.
It turns out that Nathan Garrideb is an elderly eccentric who collects everything from ancient coins to old bones. Garrideb's rooms look like a small museum. He is obviously a serious collector, but has nothing of great value in his collection. Holmes finds out that John Garrideb has never asked for any money, nor has he suggested any course of action. Nathan Garrideb has no reason, it seems, to be suspicious of John Garrideb. This puzzles Holmes.
During Holmes's and Watson's visit, John Garrideb arrives in a most jolly mood. He has apparently found a third Garrideb, as proof of which he shows a newspaper advertisement purportedly placed by a Howard Garrideb in the course of his everyday business. Holmes sees instantly that John Garrideb has placed the advertisement himself from various Americanisms in the spelling and wording.
Despite Nathan Garrideb's objections — for he is a man who very seldom goes out, much less travels — John Garrideb insists that Nathan go to Birmingham and meet this Howard Garrideb. It has now become clear to Holmes what the "rigmarole of lies" is all about. John Garrideb wants Nathan Garrideb to be out of his rooms for a while.
The next day brings fresh information. Holmes goes to see the unimaginative Inspector Lestrade at Scotland Yard, and is shown a series of photographs. One of these is unmistakably John Garrideb. His true identity is James Winter, alias Morecroft, alias "Killer" Evans, who was imprisoned for shooting a man, but avoided the noose owing to mitigating circumstances. The man that he killed was Rodger Prescott, a forger from Chicago whose description matches that of the former occupant of Nathan Garrideb's residence.
Holmes and Watson' go to Garrideb's home armed with revolvers. They do not have to wait long before Winter shows up. From their hiding place, Holmes and Watson see the criminal use a "jemmy" to open a trapdoor revealing a little cellar. They capture Winter, but not before he manages to shoot twice, striking Watson in the leg. For once, Holmes shows his human side; he is quite distraught for a short while about Watson's injury, and strikes Killer Evans on the head with the butt of a gun hard enough to draw blood, vowing that Winter would never have left the rooms alive if he had killed Watson. Fortunately, Watson's wound proves to be 'quite superficial.' The little cellar contains a printing press and stacks of counterfeit banknotes, hidden there by Prescott, the man that Evans killed.
Winter is sent back to prison. Nathan Garrideb ends up in a nursing home, so great is his disappointment, but many CID men are pleased that Prescott's equipment has at last been found.
Complete Story Text
- Sherlock Holmes derived the name of his fictional penfriend and mayor of Topeka, Dr Lysander Starr from Colonel Lysander Stark, a character appearing in The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb.
- This story features certain similarities to the main plot elements of "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League", one of the earliest Holmes stories.
- In both, Holmes's client is a naïve man who seems about to get a windfall due to the bequest of an eccentric American millionaire.
- In both Holmes discovers that the millionaire is a fiction concocted by a criminal who wants to lure the client away from his home.
- It is in this story that Watson utters the lines:
- "It was worth a wound — it was worth many wounds — to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.