Plot Summary of the Adventure of the Greek Interpreter

Updated on March 24, 2018
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Colin has been reading as long as he can remember, and the works of Conan Doyle were some of the early works that kept him reading.

Sherlock Holmes and the Greek Interpreter

The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter is a short Sherlock Holmes story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; it is a case that sees Holmes trying to solve a kidnapping, but is more famous for being the story that introduces Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock’s older, smarter brother.

Publication of the Adventure of the Greek Interpeter

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would write The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter for publication in the September 1893 edition of the Strand Magazine; with the previous month’s case being The Adventure of the Resident Patient.

Later on, in 1893, The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter would be republished as part of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, a compilation work of short Sherlock Holmes stories.

A Short Review of the Adventure of the Greek Interpreter

For two years, the short Sherlock Holmes stories had been published in the Strand Magazine, and the powers of the consulting detective were well established. In The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter though, Conan Doyle introduced a figure whose skills potentially outstripped those of his most famous creation.

This figure was of course Mycroft Holmes, but of course Mycroft Holmes though did not have the inclination, nor the energy, to undertake the same kind of work as his brother did.

The case is not a difficult one for Sherlock Holmes to solve, for indeed, some of the preparatory work, in the form of newspaper advertisements, has already been undertaken. In investigating the case though, there is a certain amount of urgency that is not always present in Sherlock Holmes tales.

In the end the urgency doesn’t allow him to apprehend the criminals, but as with other cases where the criminals appear to escape, justice does seemingly catch up to them.

The episode would be adapted for television by Granada TV; and in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Jeremy Brett would star as the detective. This adaptation kept fairly close to the original storyline, although Mycroft Holmes had been introduced in an earlier episode, and also the ending was amended, with the criminals being captured by Holmes.

Sherlock talks about Mycroft

Mycroft Holmes

Sidney Paget (1860 - 1908) PD-life-70
Sidney Paget (1860 - 1908) PD-life-70 | Source

Spoiler Alert - Plot Summary of The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter

The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter begins with a discussion between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson about the hereditary traits. Previously, Watson has always assumed that Holmes is unique, an only child, with singular capabilities. Holmes though, is quick to set his friend straight, for Sherlock has an older brother called Mycroft.

Sherlock considers that the intellect of Mycroft outstrips his own, but the detective also recognises that Mycroft doesn’t have the energy to go along with the intellect; with Mycroft perfectly comfortable to be considered wrong, rather than make the effort to prove himself right.

Sherlock though, has on occasion, sought out the advice of his brother; with Sherlock visiting Mycroft at the Diogenes Club, with the guidance normally proving accurate.

This time though, Sherlock has been sought by Mycroft, for Mr Meles, a Greek interpreter and neighbour of Mycroft, had sought the advice of Mycroft.

A man by the name of Harold Latimer had sought out the services of Mr Meles, to act as a Greek interpreter. Mr Meles had been collected in a blacked-out cab, and although told the destination was to be Kensington, the journey lasted for longer than it should. Latimer also produced a bludgeon, with the implicit threat of violence.

Latimer would tell Mr Meles that he would be rewarded for his services, but also demanded future silence from the interpreter.

The blacked-out cab would eventually, after a couple of hours, pull up at a large, expensively decorated house.

At the house, Mr Meles encounters a second man, Wilson Kemp, and soon there if more evidence about just how irregular this interpreting job was going to be. A third man was brought into the presence of the Greek interpreter, but initially, the mouth of this man was covered in sticking plaster.

Mr Meles was asked to ask the anonymous man certain questions, but as Mr Meles realised that Latimer and Kemp were both ignorant of the Greek language, the interpreter managed to interpose his own questions as well.

From his own questions Mr Meles discovered that the captive man was named Paul Kratides, a Greek man who Latimer and Kemp were trying to make sign some papers. Paul Kratides had been in England for three weeks, but had no idea where he currently was.

At that moment the questioning was interrupted when a woman entered the room. This woman immediately called out to Kratides, calling him by his first name. Paul Kratides then ripped off his mouth guard, and called the woman Sophy.

Paul and Sophy were quickly separated, and then Mr Meles was ushered from house into the blacked-out cab again. Another long drive ensued, but rather than being returned home, Mr Meles was dropped off on Wandsworth Common. The Greek interpreter didn’t dawdle though, and immediately went to gain the advice of Mycroft Holmes.

Advertisements had been placed in the papers, the ads asking for information about a Greek lady staying in England, or a man named Paul Katrides.

The problem was now placed before Sherlock Holmes, and the detective sends of a few telegrams, but it is Mycroft who brings the next development, for he has had an answer to the placed newspaper notices. A Mr Davenport tells that Sophy is staying at house known as the Myrtles in Beckenham.

With some urgency plans are made to go to Beckenham, and it is decided to get Inspector Gregson to join them. It is also thought a good idea to collect Mr Meles, in case a Greek interpreter is required.

When the party arrive at the Meles residence though, they find that the Greek interpreter has already been picked up by a cab; something that doesn’t bode well for the safety of the interpreter.

When the party of the Holmes brothers, Watson and Gregson arrive at the Myrtles it appears that the house has been abandoned; evidence shows the departure of heavily laden coach.

The house though, is not quiet as empty as it appears, as breaking through a locked door, the party find Paul Kratides and Mr Meles; both men have been gassed with charcoal fumes. The rescue proves too late for Paul Kratides, but the attention of Dr Watson sees Mr Meles saved.

The rescue has also come to late to arrest Latimer and Kemp, or rescue Sophy.

The gaps in Sherlock Holmes’ knowledge of the case are soon filled in.

Friends had warned Paul Kratides about the influence that Latimer was exerting over Sophy, and the brother had travelled to England from Greece to rectify that situation. Paul Kratides had though become a prisoner of Latimer, and the latter had tried to make the former sign over Sophy’s property; of course, Paul Kratides had refused to do so, ultimately leading to his own death.

There is a footnote to the adventure for news arrives of the death of two Englishmen, Latimer and Kemp, in Hungary. It appears that the two have killed each other during a fight; but Sherlock Holmes has a strong inkling that the deaths of the two men have been caused by Sophy; the sister getting her revenge.

The Greek Interpreter Interprets

Sidney Paget (1860 - 1908) PD-life-70
Sidney Paget (1860 - 1908) PD-life-70 | Source

Paul and Sophy

Sidney Paget (1860 - 1908) PD-life-70
Sidney Paget (1860 - 1908) PD-life-70 | Source

The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter

  • Date of Events - 1888
  • Client - Mr Meles
  • Locations - The Myrtles, Beckenham
  • Villain - Latimer and Kemp


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