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G. Lestrade

Inspector Lestrade

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  Summary  

Inspector G. Lestrade or Mr. Lestrade is a fictional character, a Scotland Yard detective appearing in several of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle used the name of a friend from his days at the University of Edinburgh, a Saint Lucian medical student by the name of Joseph Alexandre Lestrade. In "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box", Lestrade's first initial is revealed to be G. Lestrade is described as "a lean, ferret-like man, furtive and sly-looking," in A Study in Scarlet and "a little sallow rat-faced, dark-eyed fellow" in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery". He was summarised by H. Paul Jeffers in the following words:
"He is the most famous detective ever to walk the corridors of Scotland Yard, yet he existed only in the fertile imagination of a writer. He was Inspector Lestrade. We do not know his first name, only his initial: G. Although he appears thirteen times in the immortal adventures of Sherlock Holmes, nothing is known of the life outside the Yard of the detective whom Dr. Watson described unflatteringly as sallow, rat-faced, and dark-eyed and whom Holmes saw as quick and energetic but wholly conventional, lacking in imagination, and normally out of his depth—the best of a bad lot who had reached the top in the CID by bulldog tenacity."

  Biography  

In the popular London media, Lestrade is depicted as one of the best detectives at Scotland Yard, chiefly because Holmes regularly allows him to take the credit for his deductions in cases such as "The Adventure of the Empty House" and "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder". In truth, he was already well-established as a respected policeman with 20 years in the Force before A Study in Scarlet. It is observed by Holmes that Lestrade and another detective, Tobias Gregson, have an ongoing rivalry, and he identifies the two as "the best of a bad lot ... both quick and energetic, but conventional — shockingly so." Holmes once remarked in "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" that, although Lestrade had almost no skill at actual crime-solving, his tenacity and determination are what brought him to the highest ranks in the official police force. His conventional nature leads him to grow frustrated at Holmes' methods, becoming "indifferent and contemptuous" to his exploration in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery". In both "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" and "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder", he states that he is "a practical man" in dismissal of Holmes' apparently trifling actions. Nevertheless, Lestrade's appreciation of Holmes' methods grows — likely aided by being credited with Holmes' successes — and by the time of The Hound of the Baskervilles Watson observes "from the reverential way in which Lestrade gazed at my companion that he had learned a good deal since the days when they had first worked together."

Additionally, despite a disregard for Lestrade's single-mindedness, Holmes appears to have an affection for the detective. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Holmes comments to Dr. Watson that Lestrade "is the best of the professionals, I think," meaning the professional detectives employed by Scotland Yard as opposed to himself, and it is Lestrade more than any other official that Holmes works with. In "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons" it is revealed that Lestrade regularly drops in on Holmes and Watson at 221B Baker Street, sharing the news of Scotland Yard and discussing his current cases with Holmes. For his part, Lestrade gradually develops an appreciation of the detective's methods, going so far as to say at the end of the story "We're not jealous of you down at Scotland Yard. No, sir, we are proud of you, and if you come down to-morrow there's not a man, from the oldest inspector to the youngest constable, who wouldn't be glad to shake you by the hand." Watson notes in passing that this little comment is one of the few instances where Holmes is visibly moved.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Inspector Lestrade", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.