A Coffin for Dimitrios

by Eric Ambler

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Last Updated on March 12, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 416

Charles Latimer

Charles is an English detective-fiction writer and an amateur sleuth. Latimer is a former professor who now earns a living from his writing, and a visit to Istanbul leads to his meeting Colonel Haki. He becomes obsessed with the hunt for the notorious criminal, Makropoulos, who nearly kills him.

Dimitrios Makropoulos

Dimitrios is presumably Greek, and he has numerous aliases, including Rougemont and Monsieur C. K. His illicit activities include spying and drug dealing, and he has also committed murder. His operations span several European countries. By the late 1930s, he has finagled his way into the cover of a respectable position in the Eurasian Credit Trust. To make the authorities believe he is dead, he trades places with Manus Visser after killing him and throwing his body into the Bosporus. He and Peters kill each other.

Mr. Peters, or Frederik Petersen

Mr. Peters is a convicted drug dealer and former nightclub owner. Peters, an overweight, middle-aged Dane, knew Makropoulos at the Paris club where he joined his drug business. Makropoulos not only stole the operation’s money, but also informed on Peters and the others. Peters later discovered Makropoulos’s new identity and blackmailed him. Together with Latimer, he finds and confronts Makropoulos. Following a dispute over the blackmail money, Makropoulos and Peters kill each other in Paris.

Colonel Haki

Colonel Haki works for the Turkish secret police and connects with Latimer over his enthusiasm for detective stories. He draws Latimer into the intrigue with Makropoulos.

Dhris Mohammed

Dhris is a Muslim agricultural worker and was Makropoulos’s accomplice in a murder and robbery. When he was arrested, he blamed Makropoulos but was hanged for the crime. Makropoulos escaped and the police began searching for him.


Marukakis, a Greek journalist, provides Latimer with information about Makropoulos and a thwarted assassination attempt. He introduces Latimer to Irana Preveza.

Irana Preveza

Irana runs a nightclub and brothel in Sofia. When she knew Makropoulos in the 1920s, he stole from her, which left her bitter toward him.

Wladyslaw Grodek

A former espionage agent, Wladyslaw has retired to Switzerland. In Belgrade, he had used Makropoulos to obtain the naval plans that Makropoulos later sold to the French.

Manus Visser

Manus worked with Makropoulos selling drugs in Paris until Makropoulos turned into an informer, leading to Manus and other dealers serving prison time. After his release, Manus blackmailed Makropoulos, who was using the identity of Monsieur C. K. Then, Makropoulos killed Maus Visser and assumed his identity, leading to Haki’s mistaken identification of the body.

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