The Art of the Murder Mystery

Today: murder. Don’t worry, nobody’s actually getting killed. This week we’re planning a murder mystery party. And for it, I’ve enlisted Elisa Hitchcock and Kimberly Gray.

They’ve been running their business Outcast Productions for more than 20 years, and part of that business is hosting murder mystery parties. Elisa says one of the most crucial elements to a good mystery, is assigning the right person the right character.

Listen now:

Alaska Community Theater knows a thing or two about murder mystery… but it’s not just for the stage. KSKA’s Dave Waldron has the story.

“We recognize the personality and the character. We just kind of read them a little bit. And they flow into what it ultimately becomes as a story.”

For this party they’ll be assigning characters to four of my co-workers. What’s shocking is Elisa and Kimberly have just met them, but the characters Kimberly assigns them are spot-on with their actual personalities.

“You are the tour guide for then night; you know everything about this house. Your name is Jane. And we have Clyde here. And Clyde’s a skeptic. He doesn’t believe in ghosts, he’s never liked ghosts,” Kimberly tells them.

Jane, real name Anne, is actually the most excited about the murder mystery.

Clyde, real name John, is by far the most skeptical. We’ll get to that more in a second. Next we have Frank, real name John. He’s the new guy. And lastly we have Sylvia, real name Lori, the reporter with an accent.

“A really, really bad British accent?” Sylvia/Lori asks.

“That works too,” Kimberly laughs.

And here is the plot of tonight’s story.

“We work for the American Society of Haunted Homes. So the national association has challenged us to be in this home for the night,” Kimberly says.

The way this party will work is Kimberly will be acting and trying to lead the other actors in certain directions. Elisa will play the role of director.

“I enjoy the room, I enjoy directing. And Kimberley is very good at schmoozing and passing the clues. It’s a real skill that she has. And I love to direct it,” Elisa says.

So, remember how I said Kimberly picked the roles of my coworkers perfectly?

This is Jane the tour guide and Clyde the skeptic.

“Please combine all of your experiences; the misery, the triumph, the lust!! And you sir, seem to be a little bit suspect, I thought you were with the society?” Jane asks.

“I am with the society.” Clyde says.

“Mr. Clyde is it? Why don’t you follow me down to the gentleman’s chamber?”

Jane then leads the group to the amethyst chamber; a room completely decorated in purple. Apparently the woman that used to live here loved purple so much that she ate some poisonous monk’s hood, and died.

“Sometimes it reminds me of the horrid vomit that came out of her. If you notice that stain over there in that far corner, that’s where she died. Now Sylvia, it seems you’ll be the one sleeping in this room. Are you prepared?” Jane asks.

“Well, I’m starting to wonder about that,” Jane says. “Vomit and death in the same room?”

Nothings going to happen, Clyde says.

The guests will settle in to each of their haunted rooms until they are summoned for dinner.

“We will be having… pizza. We couldn’t’ afford anything else, the kitchen’s still haunted and the cooks won’t come back. We just had to get a pizza from the local place. Anyway, tata, toodle loo, see you at eight!”

And this is when Elisa writes Kimberly a note on a small piece of paper. It says to kill Frank. The only problem? Frank doesn’t want to die.

“Oh my God, I’m going to scream. Frank, what’s wrong? He’s not moving, he’s not breathing,” Kimberly notices.

“Oh me and the ghosts are just playing a game where I pretend I’m dead,” Frank says.

“Gosh, don’t do that to me, we’re in a haunted house!” Kimberly says.

Then, Frank decides to do some directing of his own.

“But anyway, I went in the garage and found these Molsons in a fridge,” Frank says. “Also, there’s a dead chef in there. He looks Swedish.”

“You saw a dead Swedish chef, and you weren’t concerned,” Jane clarifies.

“I was concerned; I was also concerned about the beer situation in the house.”

So we have our murder. Now the group just needs to figure out how the chef died, and when.

“I can’t say for sure when he died. But he died before I had my first beer, and he was definitely dead since I had six more after that one,” Frank says.

Elisa writes Kimberley another note. It says ‘the tour guide did it.’

“Stay away from the tour guide,” Kimberly warns.

And now we’re locked in this dumb house with her.

“She is a bit weird,” Sylvia says.

“The person who’s obviously going around killing Swedish chefs and creating new ghosts to supply her business,” Frank adds.

The group is just about to lock Jane in the amethyst room. Then the story takes one more wonky twist. Courtesy of Frank.

“All right you got me, I killed the chef,” Frank confesses. “I had to do it. I’ve had the pizza down the street and I was not going to settle for that. Swedish meatballs or nothing.”

“Were you planning on eating the chef then?” Sylvia asks.

“Well it was a crime of passion; I didn’t think it out much past that point.”

Our tale ends with Frank locked up, and the rest of the group waiting for the Mounties to arrive. Oh, I forgot to say we somehow ended up being in Canada.

“We should have a beer while we wait,” Kimberly says. Everyone cheers.

“May the Swedish chef rest in peace,” Jane says.

“And may there be more Molsons soon,” Sylvia adds.