Facts of the Case

John B. Reed, 57th president of the United States, is a man widely known as a paragon of virtue. Honourable and just, he is loved and admired by all. On the night of his birthday banquet in the White House, his daughter Deborah approaches him to introduce her new boyfriend. Matthew Harvey, a charming young man, greets the president with a smile and a handshake, polite words of admiration on his lips. He is met with a rigid stare and uncharacteristic silence.

Two months later, Reed abruptly passes away on the veranda of his holiday home. In the wake of the funeral, Kevin Loomis, professional lip reader, is summoned to assist in the investigations of a classified murder case of national significance.

Investigation File

In the year 2055, advances in neurotechnology have produced an MRI scanner capable of reproducing the brain’s visual memories. The requirement: the undamaged and suitably preserved brain of a recently deceased person. Though a living person’s brain only works at 10 % of its capacity under normal conditions, electric stimulation of the preserved brain can raise its functionality to 120 %. This method allows visual memories from up to two years in the past to be projected on the screen for all to see — even sights that the living brain, at 10 % capacity, did not consciously take note of and would not have been able to recall. Sound, however, cannot be reproduced, hence the need for Kevin Loomis’ services.

Prior to the president’s passing, the MRI scanner has only seen use in studies. The hazy circumstances surrounding his death — was it assassination? suicide? — and the complete absence of leads, however, call for the first-time application of the MRI scanner in crime investigation.

A look into the president’s mind soon reveals the circumstances at the time of death: A masked thief climbs over the veranda railing overlooking the ocean. He demands Reed’s wallet at knifepoint. (He does not seem to realize he is face to face with the president.) The wallet ends up in the thief’s hands, Reed risks his life to reclaim it, is stabbed, and the thief escapes, dropping the spoils. Instead of calling for help, Reed uses the last of his strength to remove a slip of paper of unknown content from his wallet, tears it to pieces, and scatters the pieces into the ocean.

Some questions are answered, more are raised.

Persons of Interest

John B. Reed 57th president of the United States. Recently deceased.
Deborah Reed Reed’s daughter. Employed at a research institute.
Matthew Harvey Deborah’s boyfriend. Employed at the same institute.
Investigation Team In charge of the case. Under strict confidentiality.
Kevin Loomis Professional lip reader. Raises privacy concerns.
Masked Thief Stabbed John B. Reed. Identity unknown. What are his motives?