Jody Baker: Baron Adelbert Gruner - As Seen By Dr. Watson

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - by Jody Baker

Baron Adelbert Gruner. This is the man identified to Holmes and Watson by Col. Sir James Damery: “[A] man to whom violence is familiar and who will, literally, stick at nothing. I should say that there is no more dangerous man in Europe.”

Baron Adelbert Gruner. This is the man of whom Holmes said: “He is an excellent antagonist, cool as ice, silky voiced and soothing as one of your fashionable consultants, and poisonous as a cobra. He has breeding in him–a real aristocrat of crime, with a superficial suggestion of afternoon tea and all the cruelty of the grave behind it.”

But when our favorite word-artist describes Gruner, Dr. Watson paints this picture: “He was certainly a remarkably handsome man. His European reputation for beauty was fully deserved. In figure he was not more than of middle size, but was built upon graceful and active lines. His face was swarthy, almost Oriental, with large, dark, languorous eyes which might easily hold an irresistible fascination for women. His hair and moustache were raven black, the latter short, pointed, and carefully waxed. His features were regular and pleasing, save only his straight, thin-lipped mouth. If ever I saw a murderer’s mouth it was there–a cruel, hard gash in the face, compressed, inexorable, and terrible….  His voice was engaging and his manners perfect.”

We can count on Watson not to let us down when he undertakes to describe a villain.

With appreciation to Dr. Watson for his artistry,
Inspector Baynes

(Jody Baker is a Chattanooga attorney, who specializes in Sherlock Holmes lore. He can be reached at

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