Last Saturday evening, I attended a Murder Mystery Evening with a group of friends at Leeford Place in Battle. I had never attended this type of event before, so I didn’t quite know what to expect.
Before the evening had begun, the mischievous side of me was pondering about joining in with the scenes of impending death. I had an idea in mind - I would stand up during dinner, shout “You BASTARD!!!” at the person next to me, then clutch my chest, make some “urrgghhhhhh” sounds and fall down dead, face first, into my bowl of vegetable soup (watching out for any sharp-looking croutons).
Mercifully for the person seated next to me (and around the table, bearing in mind the potential splash-impact of the soup), I decided not to follow through with my plan.
The evening started off well - we had arrived early and were well into our third bottle of Sauvignon Blanc before any of the actors appeared. Once they arrived, they quickly made themselves known. I’ve never heard so many raised voices in one room since the get together of the local Society Of Deaf Town Criers.
The murder story began in the bar area, with the theme being loosely based around an X-Factor crossed with Strictly Come Dancing theme. Characters such as Anton De Berk, Simon Coward… you get the idea. Thoughout the evening, the two contestants (who were supposed to be dancing for a million pounds) dropped dead in two separate incidents. That left us with four suspects - the three judges and the host (who was doing a very good impression of Bruce Forsyth). At various points during the meal, each actor would join us at our table and allow us to ask questions. One member of our table took it upon himself to question Sharon, the lady judge (wearing a very nice, tight outfit), in great depth… as he sat her down on his knee and pumped her for answers. He continued this method of interrogation with two other ladies during the evening - concluding that they definitely weren’t actors. His research and insight proved invaluable… ;)
To summarise the events: the first contestant died of poisoning on the dance floor. The second contestant died outside in the lobby, where gunshots were heard. Following the second murder, Brucie announced that one member of our table would be allowed outside to view the body and take notes. They were attempting to keep up a level of privacy… which didn’t quite work as the body was lying right outside the men’s and women’s toilets. So, as people went out to ‘spend a penny’, they were told to cover their eyes and clamber over the body. Thankfully, the women and men all ended up in the correct toilets… though Mr Incontinent from table 4 clearly received an advantage from the situation.
When the opportunity arose for our table to inspect the body, I put on my Columbo face and strode out into the lobby. Two things happened at this point:
- I forgot my Columbo jacket and cigar.
- I drew a highly accurate portrait of the body and took very neat notes of the letter that was held in the victim's hand (more on that in a minute).
- I spotted a lady scribbling at speed next to me (to the point where she almost burnt through the paper and set off the fire alarms). She had, throughout the evening, written a WHOLE PAD of notes. So, it seemed foolhardy for me to resist the temptation to snatch the pad off her and read her clue list. That was a BIG mistake, as I almost became the third murder victim of the evening. Little did I realise that Little Miss Scribble had arms like Mr Tickle, as she wrapped them around my neck several times and began a long, slow, painful asphyxiation. I reached half way down the first page before things started to go slightly blurry, as she exclaimed "give it back.... GIVE IT BACK!!!!!"
After surrendering and handing the notepad back to her, I staggered back to the table with my own pad in hand, on which was this cleverly constructed drawing of the murder scene - an invaluable clue summary for my detective colleagues…
One last questioning session followed dessert and it was then time for us to choose some sensible answers for the murder method, the motive and the murderer. Writing “Colonel Mustard, in the bathroom with the loofa” felt tempting but inappropriate (I didn’t want to make our team look any more foolish than they already did).
After a mix-up with our answer sheet (someone had spilled water on it), we were left with about 15 seconds to write down our answers. So, I scribbled down that the murderer was Piers, the motive was an Indian betting syndicate and the method was poison and gun. Simple.
To my surprise, we were absolutely spot on, and finished second. Why second? Well, another team had written more detail than us (the poison came from a frog, the gun was made from digestive biscuits and the murderer was wearing Superman boxer shorts… or something like that).
Anyway, the important thing is that we finished second and we won two boxes of chocolates…. which my team mates promptly wolfed down, forgetting to leave me one. Talk about shared bloody glory - I could have killed them!!