YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Can you solve Neurology's biggest mystery?

September 09, 2013|By Monte Morin
  • The journal Neurology is holding a writing contest to complete an unfinished short story penned by the late Dr. Robert Joynt, a lover of Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Above, Basil Rathbone, left, as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson in "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes."
The journal Neurology is holding a writing contest to complete an unfinished… (Courtesy of American Cinematheque )

Forget the FBI or Scotland Yard. When it comes to solving the grisly murder of a young, beautiful gold mining heiress, the only person who could possibly crack the case is a writer (and maybe a neurologist.)

While authors published in the journal Neurology usually confine themselves to discussions of nervous system disorders, the journal's latest issue asks readers to complete an unfinished mystery penned by a late Neurology editor and pillar of his field, Dr. Robert Joynt.

In addition to heading the American Academy of Neurology and the American Neurological Assn., Joynt was a man of encyclopedic knowledge who deeply enjoyed the mysteries of Sherlock Holmes. (It's been said that many neurologists share this interest in mystery stories.)

As a section editor at Neurology, Joynt wrote five mysteries of his own, borrowing Holmes as his protagonist and crafting key clues around neurological disorders. The stories were all published in Neurology, and the first,- "The Case of the Reed in the Breeze," involved a thief who suffered from tabes dorsalis, a degenerative nerve disease that caused the thief to sway in darkness.

After Joynt's death in 2012, Neurology editors discovered an unfinished  story on his computer. The mystery, titled "The Case of the Locked House," centers on the death of Sally Wareham, who was found strangled to death at her family's estate 50 miles from Oxford, England.

"Intrigued by the story but deflated at the lack of an ending, the editors have decided to publish the case and request that readers finish it," says a brief introduction to the two-page story.

In typical mystery fashion, Joynt's unfinished story finds a stumped Scotland Yard turns to the man in the deerstalker cap for help.

"There is no clue as to how the murderer got into or left the house; neither is there any good reason that we know of that she should have been treated in such ill fashion," state's the story's narrator, Dr. Watson.

At the time of her death, Wareham was living with her security-obsessed brother George, a Sandhurst graduate who recently returned from military service in India.

Investigators note, however, that in the months before her slaying, Sally Wareham was courted by three dashing young men who each had a reputation for violence and hard drinking.

The incomplete story and contest rules can be found here. The entries will be judged by a panel of editors, and the winning entry will be reviewed by the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

"The final case with ending will be published, and the winner will be listed as co-author with Dr. Joynt," journal editors wrote. "Please keep in mind that the previous cases, which submitters are encouraged to read, all had a neurological solution."

Los Angeles Times Articles