The novel’s main protagonist. Sherlock Holmes is a consulting detective who uses the science of deductive reasoning to solve criminal cases. He is excitable, intense, arrogant, and immensely intelligent, but almost nothing is known about his personal life. Holmes is motivated by a desire to learn about things and explain how they work and how they came to be. Though his methods often confound observers, his ability to create a story from a scarcity of facts never ceases to astonish.
Dr. John Watson
A military doctor recently returned to London from the war in Afghanistan and Sherlock Holmes’s roommate. The steady, reliable Watson is a foil to Holmes’s eccentric, excitable personality and he often joins Holmes on his exploits. Dr. Watson keeps a diary, and it is his account of the murder investigation that comprises most of the novel.
An American hunter and outdoorsman, the love interest of Lucy Ferrier, and a friend of John Ferrier. Hope is passionate and hot-tempered with a confidence that comes from being good at everything he does. Jefferson Hope proves to be both protagonist and antagonist over the course of the novel. He is the embodiment of the idea that people’s actions often have a complex set of motivations.
A detective at Scotland Yard. Despite being one of Scotland Yard’s best, Gregson’s confidence in his abilities is far higher than his intelligence.
A detective at Scotland Yard. Lestrade is more capable and less pompous than Gregson, but still relies on Sherlock Holmes to help him solve the more complex cases.
A migrant in the Utah desert and Lucy’s adoptive father. Ferrier is saved from starvation by the Mormons and taken to Salt Lake City where he becomes a successful farmer. He is independent, hardworking, and stubborn. Ferrier refuses to marry, which is against the wishes of the Mormon hierarchy.
The adopted daughter of John Ferrier and the “Flower of Utah.” Lucy is beautiful, graceful, and capable. She falls in love with Jefferson Hope and is coveted by Joseph Stangerson and Enoch Drebber.
A wealthy American traveling in London and the victim of the murder around which the novel revolves. Drebber is an ugly, malicious drunk.
The American secretary of Enoch Drebber, traveling in London. Stangerson is the murderer’s second victim.
The leader and prophet of the Mormons. Brigham Young saves John Ferrier’s life on the condition that John and Lucy become Mormons for the rest of their lives.
A constable at Scotland Yard. The slovenly, incompetent Rance is the first officer on the scene of Drebber’s murder and later gives his account to Holmes.
The former classmate of Dr. Watson from medical school. Stamford connects Watson to Holmes, who is in need of a roommate.