Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Body in the woods: Throw a Murder Mystery Party

“What would you like to do for your birthday this year?” I asked my daughter nervously, knowing that at 12 years old, it was unlikely to be as simple as Pass the Parcel and jam sandwiches.

She was crystal clear. “I’d like a murder mystery party!” she said. “A real one, with a dead body. Not just one of those ones you buy in a box.”

"Erm…okay...Let me have a think about how that might work,” I said. My daughter is obsessed with the Murder Most Unladylike books by Robin Stevens, so I shouldn't have been surprised.

Gradually, gradually, I started to piece together how it could be done. In fact, I started to get quite excited. A venue was chosen. Clues and characters created. Wigs, moustaches  and crime scene tape!  ordered. Invitations made and sent out.
Here’s how it worked.

My daughter and her friend (they wanted a joint birthday party) were the detectives – and in charge of proceedings. 
As each of the 13 guests arrived, they greeted them with a package. It contained their character's name, description and disguise  to be put on straight away.
Once wigged up, they were asked to introduce themselves with their new identity!       

For example, we had: 

And:
The detectives then explained the very serious matter at hand: The body of Lord Dalton had been found in the woods of Thurnham Hall yesterday. They had been hard at work on the case already and calculated that EACH AND EVERY SINGLE PERSON INVITED HERE TODAY HAD A MOTIVE TO KILL HIM! THIS MADE ALL OF THEM SUSPECTS! 
Their job today was to help them identify who the murderer was by hunting for clues that the murderer dropped as he or she ran away from the crime scene. Each clue would eliminate one of the suspects until only one person was left – THE MURDERER! 

And at that point they gave each guest a clipboard with this sheet on it so they could cross off each suspect as they were eliminated.
“But first, let’s go take a look at the victim!" said the detectives and off they set!
The girls gasped as the bloodied sheet was lifted to reveal the murdered body of Lord Dalton (aka big brother of daughter's friend, lying impressively still!). 
They then revealed the murder weapon, a large kitchen knife covered in blood (aka a knife from our kitchen with some red poster paint on it).
“Now, let’s go find those clues the murderer dropped, shall we?” said the detectives, leading them deeper into the woods and through the grounds to specific areas (where 12 clues had been planted by us earlier!).
The girls scurried around, looking underfoot... 

Clue #1 is found: A half-eaten ham sandwich. Now who did that rule out? Goldie Goldberg the Jewish person who doesn't eat pork of course!
Clue #2: A badly spelt shopping list?
That eliminated Ella Scrabble, the English Language professor!

Clue #3: A smashed watch stuck at 3.15?
Well then, the murderer couldn't be Polly Splosh, the Olympic swimmer, who trains from 1.30 to 5.30 every single day!

The final clue-hunting area was the graveyard... Ooh, an unexpected call comes in on one of the detective's phones! It's the forensics department (aka dad hiding round the corner making the call!)
It seems they have new information: They have found evidence of a struggle between the victim and the murderer and a dark hair has been found under the fingernails of Lord Dalton. "What are the implications of this?" asked the detectives. 

Well of course, it must mean that all suspects with blond hair (wigs!) are ruled out.

"Oh and by the way," added the detectives, "You see the gravedigger over there?" (aka other dad!). "It might be worth asking if he saw anything yesterday." 

"Ummmm...yesterday you say?...Let me think," he says in his best rural burr. "No, no, I didn't see anything untoward...oh, but hang on a minute...I did find this!" and from his pocket he produces a dangly earring. 
Aha! So the murderer, they now know, is a female!

They just need to find the final clue. 
Look, it's a handkerchief with an E embroidered on it. So the murderer's name must begin with an E…
What??? Eh??? That just didn't make sense! There are no female suspects left whose name begins with E. A lot of head-scratching and discussion ensues. 
Then one of them works it out. "Got it!" she says, "Lizzie is short for Elizabeth!" 

And the murderer is revealed! It's Lizzie Riding, the horse-mad, show-jumping, fox-hunting woman who has a horse called Red Rum (which, incidentally, just happens to be murder backwards!).

Case solved!

The murderer is led back home and hand-cuffed.
And all that's left to do is eat birthday cake!

If you like this, you might like Phone hacking, manslaughter or murder, madam?

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