Early thirties, dyed blonde hair, strange red speckles all over her body. The woman, Julia Stoner, had been found in her bed. There seemed to be no obvious cause of death.
Her sister, Helen, said that Julia had been feeling a bit rundown for the last few weeks but had figured she was stressed because she was getting married soon. It was only after performing the autopsy, that I discovered two tiny puncture marks in her right ankle and traces of an unidentified poison in her bloodstream. The obvious answer was that she had been bitten by something, presumably some kind of snake. As I started to phone the local zoos to see if any had recently escaped, Sherlock looked into Julia's family. She lived with her sister and their stepfather, Doctor Roylott. He was apparently a big name in cosmetics and had even guest starred on Connie Prince's show a few times. Both seemed genuinely devastated by Julia's death. We then met her fiance, Percy Armitage. He was a strange bloke. Very beardy. He also, we discovered, kept snakes. None of the zoos were missing any reptiles so it appeared to be that one of Percy's had bitten Julia. He denied it, saying that Julia hated the snakes so wouldn't go near them.
The case went on for a few days but we didn't seem to be getting anywhere. Sherlock was convinced that Julia had been murdered in some way. He didn't believe that a snake could get into someone's bedroom, kill them in their sleep and then leave without being spotted by anyone else. Percy had an alibi for the night Julia was killed and he kept his snakes at his own flat. It seemed obvious that he was involved but wherever we turned, we hit a brick wall. And to make matters worse, Helen was starting to complain that she too was feeling tired and run down. Was it just grief over her sister's death? Or was something else happening?
Sherlock, then, had an idea. He decided to relive Julia's last night. He wanted to spend a night in her bedroom and he wanted me to join him.
Yes. You can all stop sniggering. I was going to sleep on the floor.
We went into the bedroom and Sherlock started to relive Julia's last moments - with guidance from Helen. Julia had been out with some mates but hadn't got too drunk. She'd come home and had had a bath.
Sherlock looked at the bottle of expensive-looking bubble bath by Julia's bed. The brand was Roylotts - developed by her stepfather's company. Sherlock asked Helen if she used the same brand. She said that it wasn't yet available in the shops. Their stepfather had given it to her sister to try and then, more recently, to her.
Sherlock took the bottle to Barts and analysed the contents. It contained a slow-acting poison. Every time the girls had been using it, they'd been slowly killing themselves. Helen told us that her stepfather had promised it had already been tested. It was safe! Sherlock pointed out that this hadn't been an accident (he didn't exactly break this gently to Helen). Her stepfather had killed her sister in cold blood and was now doing the same to her. He'd put the puncture marks in Julia's ankle to deflect attention onto one of Percy's snakes. We rushed back to the house to confront the old man but it was too late - he was already dead. He'd hung himself from the kitchen light-fitting. He hadn't left a note so we don't know why he wanted to kill his step-daughters. Did he remind them of his late wife? Was it about money? Was he just mad?
We, and more tragically Helen, will never know.
Oh, the poor girls. How terrible.
Marie Turner 13 July 13:32
I know, Mrs H. Sometimes I don't think I'll ever really understand how people can do such things.
13 July 13:43
Sorry, it's actually Mrs Turner from next door this time. Mrs Hudson's downstairs in the cafe.
Marie Turner 13 July 13:45
13 July 13:47
Another case solved!
Mike Stamford 13 July 13:59
Sorry, I wasn't sure how to work the contact email button thing but I was wondering if you could help? My husband died last week and they wouldn't let me see the body and I'm sure they're hiding something. Please help me.
14 July 07:23
I'll be in touch. Sorry for your loss.
14 July 09:47
My girlfriend uses Roylott's stuff!!!
14 July 10:26
You've got a girlfriend? Well done, mate!
14 July 14:12
Yeah!! I'm irresistible now thanks to you two! I'm the guy that beat up Sherlock Holmes and John Watson!!
14 July 14:15
It wasn't real.
Sherlock Holmes 14 July 14:17
ah but what is real
theimprobableone 14 July 15:00
I am an experienced medical doctor recently returned from Afghanistan.