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Neurology and detective writing
  1. Peter A Kempster1,2,
  2. Andrew J Lees3
  1. 1Neurosciences Department, Monash Medical Centre, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Department of Medicine, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3Reta Lila Weston Institute of Neurological Studies, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr P A Kempster, Neurosciences Department, Monash Medical Centre, 246 Clayton Road, Clayton, VIC 3168, Australia; peter.kempster{at}


When searching for clues to reach a diagnosis, neurologists often empathise with the detective who is trying to solve a case. The premise of this article is that detective stories have been part of the fabric of neurology ever since the time that it evolved into a discrete medical speciality. We will examine how this form of narrative has found expression in detective mystery fiction and popular science publications created by 20th century neurologist physician-writers. We will also investigate the power of the neurologist's alter ego, Sherlock Holmes: his relationship to founders of clinical neuroscience such as Jean-Martin Charcot, William Gowers and Sigmund Freud, and his influences on neurological practice and its literary traditions.

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