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August 5, 1974

The Singular Affair of The Aluminum Crutch

Author Affiliations

Richmond, Va

JAMA. 1974;229(6):641. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230440017020

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To the Editor.—  Dr. Watson referred often to unpublished adventures of Sherlock Holmes including "the singular affair of the aluminum crutch" mentioned in The Musgrave Ritual. The late August Derleth seized on this fragment and expanded it into a detective story. I became involved as forensic pathologist in a case of homicide revolving about the use of this device.A man, found dead behind a tavern, was brought in for examination. He had but one leg, and there were no external marks of violence on the body. There was fresh hemorrhage into the right temporalis muscle and contrecoup bruising of the brain, with acute cerebral edema. I concluded that he had been killed by a single blow to the right temporal region and suggested that the police look for a padded blunt instrument.At the trial I was shown a long, lightweight aluminum crutch; the upper end was heavily padded