by Jerry Guarino
certainly not what I expected, said
detective Laura Miller. Three hours earlier,
David Bancroft, an English professor at Berkeley,
had invited eight guests to his Victorian estate
in Sonoma for a murder mystery dinner party.
If only we had paid more attention to the
clues, agreed Robert Warren, an attorney.
The solution was right in front of our face.
Laura shook her head, the guys in the
precinct are going to give me hell for missing
David had carefully selected the diverse guest
list to create a most spontaneous evening, like a
fine chef who mixes seemingly incompatible
ingredients and comes up with a masterly meal.
In addition to Laura and Robert, there was
Elizabeth Ashley, a 28-year-old debutante turned
socialite from Alabama. Her naturally golden hair,
quiet elegance and refined grace were as
intoxicating as her accent. Jim Palmer was a
rookie police officer from Los Angeles, but his
clean cut looks and baby face belied his
intelligence and maturity. Dr. Jenny Song, a
neurologist from Boston, looked more like a model
than a brain surgeon. She was tall and athletic,
with long straight black hair and a graceful gait.
Which brings us to Father John Lopez, a
Franciscan monk from San Diego and descendent of
the original Spanish missionaries who settled
California. John was not only a priest; he had a
degree in philosophy from Harvard. Switching from
the cerebral to the creative, Nancy Lee was a
caterer from Marin, with a whos who list of
wealthy clients from the golden county north of
the Golden Gate Bridge; she was also very
attractive with short hair, bangs, a button nose
and sparkling eyes. To round out this gathering
was Antonio Marini, a magician from Las Vegas.
Antonio packed them in at the Desert Palm, with
his incomprehensible illusion of making audience
members disappear from the stage and show up
seconds later at the back of the theater.
You might have noticed the one trait these people
had in common, their refined looks. In fact, the
guest list was as resplendent, alluring and
beautiful as the mansion itself. Even Steven, the
butler, was a tall, distinguished man with thick
beard and mustache and Maria, the maid, a
striking Latina in a French maids outfit;
perhaps these two were quiet, but significant
characters in Davids plans or merely
servants. David never mentioned them in his bio
The last character was Davids Victorian
house, magnificently settled in his vineyard, an
odd architecture for California. Unlike the homes
in New England, this home was just a few years
old, with hidden electronics behind a décor of
old fashioned wallpaper, carpet, furnishings,
artwork and adornments. David even infused an
artificial, slightly musty smell into the rooms,
another realistic but diverting element for the
night. It would take a qualified appraiser more
than a little while to uncover the veneer;
exactly the way David had designed it.
The guests were all gathered in the library now,
relaxing in leather chairs and soft sofas,
looking each other over. Steven and Maria were
So David said Elizabeth, when
are you going to tell us about tonights
game? David had sent out invitations that
mentioned a mystery dinner party, but had not
revealed much about the complexities to come.
Certainly, said David. We are
here to solve a make believe murder that will
occur sometime tonight. Each of you has received
background information on the others, although
none of you have ever met before. I have spent
considerable time and money to insure that
everyone here is an honorable person, not likely
to cheat or otherwise ruin the game. Each of you
will get one true and private clue to the
identity of either the victim or the murderer,
along with the clues that all of you may see or
Elizabeth smiled and stroked her hair, Robert
adjusted his glasses, Laura rubbed her palms
together and Jim took out a pad to take notes.
John sipped his wine and nodded in appreciation,
loving the entertainment so lacking at the
To win, you will have to uncover the
identity of the murderer, the victim and how the
murder was accomplished. The one who does that
will also win $10,000 in cash. Oh yes, and Im
the only one who knows who the murderer and
Antonio rubbed the felt of his top hat, so common
a home for doves in a magicians act. Nancy
straightened her chef coat, not sure why she was
asked to wear it. Jenny held her stethoscope in
her white lab coat, and then asked the question
they were all thinking. David, why are we
all dressed this way?
Ah, yes doctor. You are all dressed in your
work attire. Nancy is a chef, John is a priest,
Robert is a lawyer, Laura a detective, Elizabeth
is a socialite, Jim is a police officer and
Antonio is a magician, all of you at the top of
your profession, destined for great lives and
accomplishments. But tonight will challenge all
of your creative and intellectual skills.
David adjusted his tweed deerstalker, the hat
Sherlock Holmes made famous. As I am the
host of the game and a professor, Ive
selected this hat and pipe from my favorite
detective. Now listen carefully to a few rules.
You may go anywhere in the house, attic or
basement and you must leave the company of the
group at least once during the evening. But you
may not leave the house. That would automatically
Robert pointed to the large rectangular frame,
maybe 80 in diameter, above the library
entrance. And what is this, an empty
David held up a remote control. That, my
dear barrister, is a video monitor, another
source of clues for everyone. There is a smaller
monitor in each of the rooms, usually above the
entering door. David pushed a button and
the monitor revealed a view of the outside
grounds, then the upstairs rooms, then the first
floor rooms and finally the wine cellar. The
house may look old, but the electronics are state
of the art. At various random times, the monitors
will show you what is going on in different parts
of the house, where others may be exploring for
clues. Each room is also equipped with speakers,
adding to the ambiance and providing audio clues.
You see I have an obsession with murder mysteries,
especially the sights and sounds of dark and
David pushes another button and a loud clap of
thunder comes through the speakers while
lightning reflected on the guests.
Robert was the first to comment on the weather
anomaly. I see, because we dont get
storms up here.
David nodded. Yes Robert, I may have saved
some money if I bought my house in Seattle.
Jenny held up a Bluetooth earpiece. And
David pointed to the device. Yes Jenny,
each of you has one. During the night, you each
will get a clue to the identity of the victim or
Laura spoke up. Are the clues private for
David liked the way his guests were engaged.
No one else will hear your personal clue,
but if you choose to share it, you are more
likely to become the victim than the one who
solves the crime.
The doorbell rings and a deliveryman hands Steven
a shoebox-sized package wrapped in plain brown
paper. Ill just put this upstairs sir,
David nodded. Very good Steven. That
package wont be needed tonight.
Jim offered his first
question. Are there any other restrictions
David took out his notes and replied. You
may ask anyone anything, work together or by
yourself. If a door is locked you must find a key
or another way in, but remember, you cant
leave the house. Another flash of lightning,
the sound of thunder and a womans scream is
John jokes. That wasnt Steven, was it?
There is laughter all around, and then the lights
go out for 30 seconds. When they come back on,
Antonio and Laura are missing.
Jenny was most concerned. Maybe we have
already learned who the murderer and victim are.
Nancy, realizing that this was just a diversion,
bubbled. Sounds like a delicious evening. I
cant wait to start. Steven comes down
the stairs; he joins Maria in the kitchen to
begin serving. A grandfather clock rings six
Thats our cue for dinner said
David. As the guests meander from the library to
the dining room, the monitor shows Antonio and
Laura upstairs talking, but only Jenny notices
The guests find their place card and sit down.
Laura returns to the dining room.
Where were you? said Jim.
Laura replied. I heard footsteps; I thought
it might be the killer.
Robert excuses himself. Before we eat, I
need to be excused.
Elizabeth puts her drink down. I think I
will step out for a minute too.
As they leave, Antonio comes back in and John
questions him. So youre back. What
did you hear Antonio?
Antonio points to his arm. Nothing,
somebody pulled on my arm when the lights went
out and I ran after them.
A spotlight highlights a drapery sash and a chime
is heard. The sash looks like a rope, but not
everyone notices this clue. Jim makes a quick
note on his pad, out of view.
Then Jim leaves the table. I need to see
where that scream came from.
Jenny joins him. Ill
go with you. They head upstairs.
David states the obvious. Well, it looks
like everyone is getting their time away from the
group done early. Maria, you may start serving
Laura compliments David. I think you have
created one hell of a mystery David. The
dining room monitor shows a male and female
figure kissing, but in silhouette.
More than you can imagine Laura. May I
remind you, dont trust anyone. Spooky
owl sounds emanate from the speakers, then the
lights go out again and another scream is heard.
A full minute passes in darkness. When the lights
come on, Robert, Elizabeth, Jenny and Jim have
Elizabeth speaks out as if she had never left.
What was that?
David points them back to their seats. Oh
nothing, lets sit down everyone. The first
course is ready, French onion soup. As
Maria serves the soup, Steven pours dinner wine,
a selection from Davids own vineyard.
Absolutely gourmet David said Antonio;
did Steven or Maria make this?
With a wink to Nancy, David explained. Actually
this feast is courtesy of our resident chef,
Nancy. Dont worry; she made sure that no
ones allergies would be affected.
A spotlight shines briefly on the candlestick of
the centerpiece accompanied by a soft chime.
Everyone at the table sees this clue and eyes the
With worried looks around the table, Nancy says,
It was prepared at my restaurant and
Antonio says what most of them are thinking.
You mean we have been eating food prepared
by someone who could be the murderer?
Elizabeth agreed. That is outrageous! Why
didnt you say something?
Robert punctuated the point. Bad form David.
We may have missed a valuable clue.
David countered. Actually, you have all
missed several clues already. You didnt
think this was going to be easy, did you?
Just as John was about to speak, he heard a chime
in his earpiece and his personal clue to the
AS A MAN OF FAITH, YOU KNOW THAT WHAT IS
VISIBLE MAY NOT BE TRUE. PEOPLE WILL TRY TO FOOL
YOU WITH LIES AND DECEPTION. HAVE FAITH! YOUR
CLUE IS THAT THE VICTIM PLAYS A PROMINENT PART IN
With this information, John realizes that Steven
and Maria are probably not directly involved. He
compliments Nancy. This is excellent Nancy.
Where is your restaurant?
Nancy was happy to oblige the privileged guests.
In San Francisco, near Ghirardelli Square.
I made the dessert especially for you Padre.
Laura jokes. A Peach Bomb Surprise?
Nancy continued. Not quite. Alternate
layers of angel and devils food cake. I
call it The Devils Orchestra.
John smiles. I cant wait. Ill
finally be able to separate good from evil.
Jim kids him, You mean play God, John?
John was enjoying this. I thought that was
something you did son. Serve the good and punish
Robert added his twist. Well, Jim stops
them, Laura investigates them and I put them away.
You could call us a crime team.
Antonio adds his opinion; your team seems
to have an advantage in this game, being expert
Robert turns the accusation back to Antonio.
And you are an expert at misdirection and
disguise. Do you have a weapon up your sleeve?
Antonio couldnt resist. No, just a
rabbit; and he pulls a rabbit out for
Jim has a fake look of concern. What kind
of soup did you say this was? Antonio frees
the rabbit and it runs out of the room.
Will he be all right? said Elizabeth.
Antonio reassured her. Oh yes, hell
find some warm spot and go to sleep. Rabbits are
very good pets, you know.
What do you say David? said Robert.
Does anyone here have an advantage in
solving the mystery?
David is glad this question came up. Not in
the least. In fact, our expert investigators will
probably think too much, making their conclusions
At this point Antonio gets up, takes Maria aside
and asks excuse me dear, where is the rest
Maria responds politely. The door next to
the kitchen is closest sir.
Antonio puts his arm around her waist, whispers
something, winks and then walks to the bathroom.
Out of sight from the others, he sees a lead pipe
in the kitchen spotlighted with that soft chime
sound. This may be an extra clue just for
me, he says to himself.
Everyone is impressed by the soup and
congratulates Nancy. This tastes
Mediterranean. Is that the region of your cuisine?
Well, its a fusion restaurant
combining Mediterranean with Asian flavors. Even
though I was trained in China, I also spent two
years in Italy and thats when I decided to
blend these heavenly foods into one cuisine.
David agreed. Eating at your restaurant has
elevated my palate Nancy. This is one reason I
invited you to the game, to show these guests
that we have world class chefs in the bay area.
Jenny hears a chime in her earpiece but places
her hand over it secretly in order to hide the
fact that her personal clue was coming.
DO NOT JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS. DONT TRUST
YOUR EYES OR EARS. TO WIN THIS GAME YOU WILL NEED
TO FIND FACTS. REMEMBER, PEOPLE LIE AND FORGET.
YOUR CLUE IS THAT THE MURDER WEAPON WILL BE FOUND.
Her clue finishes just before loud thunderclaps
resonate through the house. The lights go out
again for another minute. A gunshot is heard
along with the sound of a body hitting the floor.
When the lights come back on, Steven is lying
motionless on the floor. The rabbit has snuggled
under his leg and there are hairs on Stevens
trousers. Then we see Antonio return from the
Elizabeth screams, points and says, Look,
its the butler.
Jenny rushes over to check his vital signs. As
everyone comes closer, Jenny holds a card up that
says VICTIM, truly a sign of relief. Well,
I guess this means the butler is dead. You are
dead Steven, arent you?
Steven looks up and replies yes doctor.
Thank you for confirming it. The butler
looks at David. Since my part of the game
is done sir, would you mind if I went to my room
to take a nap? I dont think I can lie still
for five hours.
Everyone looks at David and in unison says Five
David ignores their complaint. Of course
not. Quite right Steven. Buttle off to your room.
He leaves with the VICTIM card and the rabbit
under his arm to his upstairs room.
Expecting this interruption, David announces.
Lets return to dinner. Maria, Im
afraid youre going to have to serve by
Nancy volunteers. Nonsense, I am glad to
help you. I believe the crabmeat stuffed in
lobster mushrooms are next.
Maria curtseys to Nancy. Thank you for your
help Maam and they go into the kitchen.
Jenny says, I believe lobster mushrooms are
David tries to reassure everyone. Really
Jenny? I can guarantee you that no one will
really die tonight.
Elizabeth adds, Well, at least we know that
the butler didnt do it. Laughter
breaks the tension.
While Nancy and Maria serve the appetizers,
Robert wants to hear more about the mushrooms.
Nancy, someone is concerned about the
Nancy clarifies. No, these are porcini
mushrooms, cut in the shape of a lobster. Theyre
perfectly safe, then winks at everyone
A spotlight shines briefly on a hypodermic needle
on the sideboard, then that soft chime sounds.
Only a few of the guests notice it.
Jim saw the hypodermic needle and was watching
the others. Since we are part of a murder
mystery, Id like to ask John about the
nature of good and evil.
John gestured with his hand. Well, I
certainly believe in good and evil. You see all
sorts of unimaginable crimes against people
because of anger, greed, envy and lust.
Jenny inquires the deadly sins padre?
then John continues.
Thats right Jenny, along with
gluttony, sloth and pride, but those three dont
usually lead to violence.
As Maria and Nancy serve the appetizers, Laura
shares her experience. I think drugs are
the problem. Nearly every violent criminal I have
investigated was involved with illegal substances,
either using or selling them.
John adds yes, but before that. What sends
a person down that path to drugs and violence?
Jim had his opinion. Lack of education,
poor parenting, drug use at home. It all begins
in the home. If parents take care of their
children and raise them right, drugs or gangs wont
tempt them. And its not limited to the poor.
I know many poor families doing a great job at
John kept the topic philosophical. But what
about faith? What about a persons
conscience? Why do some people resist the
temptation of crime while others succumb to it?
David notices that wineglasses are empty. Maria
would you please go to the wine cellar and get us
another couple bottles?
Maria nods and says right away sir.
Jenny offers to go with her. They exit though the
Elizabeth brought them back to the conversation.
Are you saying that some people are born
good and some are born bad?
John answered, What I am saying is that we
have free will. We all have choices to make.
Those who make bad choices follow a path that
leads to crime, or in extreme cases, even eternal
Laura agreed. So everyone is responsible
for his or her own actions.
John nodded. Remember, people dont
choose evil for evils sake. They are
mistaken into thinking they are choosing
happiness. This is how Satan deceives man.
Robert wonders what happened to Maria and Jenny.
I think Ill see what we have for a
Arent some people pushed beyond their
limit, their ability to make good choices? What
about someone who steals to feed his family
John added. Yes, that seems like a paradox,
stealing to feed your family. The fault lies in
trying to understand the will of God. We are
limited in our capacity to do so. Certainly the
injustices of the world are one of those
A spotlight flashes briefly on a dagger hidden
into the wallpaper, only the men hearing the
chime in time to see the dagger. What was
that? said Elizabeth, what clue was
shown? No one was willing to answer.
Laura asked, So why do good people fall out
of Gods grace?
John responded. Man is an imperfect being,
subject to sin throughout his life here. This is
not the kingdom of Heaven. This world is where
Satans lies and deceptions lead men astray.
Only a focus on Christ and the word of God can
repel the power of Satan.
But how many people can do that?
Laura asked John.
Actually, no one can. Thats where
grace comes in. Sometimes we are being protected
without realizing it. But if you know something
is wrong, then you have an obligation to resist
Jim agreed. Im with the Padre. If you
resist evil, youll get help from above.
Maybe angels, maybe something else. But if you
look for trouble, you will certainly find it.
John was slowly winning over the others. Very
true Jim. How many of us can say they havent
looked for trouble now and then?
Laura asked John. Even you Padre? Have you
looked for trouble?
John paused, remembering a time in his life when
he was troubled. Before I entered the
seminary, I was almost lost to the dark side. My
friends robbed a bank. Unfortunately, I was in
the getaway car. The police caught them before
they got to the car. When I heard gunshots, I
took off out of there.
Jim didnt think John could have been
involved. So you didnt know they were
going to rob a bank?
John was relieved to clear this up. No and
my friends never gave me up. They either wanted
to protect me or knew it wouldnt help them,
Youre lucky Padre. Today, with DNA,
we would have brought you in, said Jim.
At this point, Maria, Jenny and Robert return,
each straightening their clothing.
Jenny and Robert take their seats while Maria
pours new wine.
So thats when you decided to join the
priesthood? said Laura.
No, things got even worse for me. A drunk
driver killed my sister. She had just gotten
engaged and was coming home from her shower.
Jenny was visibly upset. Thats
terrible John. Im so sorry.
Between escaping the bank robbery and the
injustice of my sisters death, my world was
turned upside down. Thats when I started
looking for answers.
Laura asked but you must have known that
these circumstances had nothing to do with you.
I know, said John. But in my
mind, you can either believe in free will or fate?
believe in both said Laura.
John thought for a moment. Maybe. I
personally think that man has free will, except
for the important things in life. The
discussion was interrupted when Elizabeth hears
her clue coming.
SOCIAL PARTIES ARE YOUR HOME FIELD. YOU KNOW
HOW TO READ PEOPLE. DONT BE FOOLED BY FIRST
IMPRESSIONS. YOUR CLUE IS THAT THE MURDERERS
NAME HAS FIVE LETTERS.
My friends and that drunk driver had free
will. They decided to do what they did. But their
decisions affected me greatly and after my sisters
death, I started to drink. It was only a year
later when I realized I was self-destructing.
Jim asked. You mean you were falling victim
Yes. Thats when I joined the seminary.
I knew I needed a lot more than my own will power
to survive. The order showed me how to protect
myself and to help others.
Although Robert understood the subtleties of Johns
philosophy, he worked in a world where judgments
were made in a black or white manner that is
guilty or not guilty. I cant afford
to make such distinctions. It doesnt matter
whether or not someone had free will, only that
they understood the difference between right and
Nancy and Maria bring out the main course: Asian
duck marinated in a marsala sauce, risotto and
finely cut vegetables inside of mu shu pancakes
with hoisin sauce. Nancy announces Bon
appetite everyone! The main course was a
most welcome way to lighten the ambiance with
more carnal pleasures. There was applause and
pleasant comments as the food was set in front of
everyone. The seriousness of Johns good and
evil sermon was replaced with small talk and
As they were finishing their dinner, the
grandfather clock struck seven times. The sounds
of owls, thunder and rain are audible throughout
the house now. Most of the guests had not heard
their personal clue and their senses were
heightened as they prepared to solve the mystery.
Was Johns loquaciousness an attempt to
divert attention from his true role as the
murderer? What about the long absence of Maria,
Jenny and Robert in the basement? How long could
it take to find a couple bottles of wine? Antonio
slipped out of sight for a while; and who brings
a rabbit to a dinner party? Is it possible that
the murderer has an accomplice? The only
undisputable clue was that Steven was the victim.
Finding the murderer will indeed be more
difficult, as David had warned. Speaking of David,
could he be the murderer?
With dinner finished and dessert to come later,
the guests return to the library. The video
monitor is now a focal point for clues. Maria is
doing double duty, serving after dinner drinks
and cleaning up the dining room table.
Elizabeth was the first to reiterate appreciation
for the meal. That dinner was divine Nancy.
You can expect me at your restaurant before
Nancy was humbled. Just let me know; Ill
get you a table with a view of the bridge.
Robert made a suggestion. I say we all
gather there for a celebration with the winner
picking up the tab.
Nancy liked the idea. Ill even give
you the murderers discount.
None of the guests needed (or in Johns case
wanted) the $10,000, so the atmosphere was
generally convivial and more a friendly test of
intellect, a game rich people play for amusement
between their careers and obligations. As
everyone settled down with their cognac and other
aperitifs, Robert heard a chime in his earpiece
and his clue.
AS A LAWYER, YOU SEE LIARS EVERYDAY. SOMEONE
WILL TRY TO DECEIVE YOU. TREAT THEM AS YOU WOULD
AN ADVERSARY. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH AND DONT
ASK ANY QUESTIONS YOU DONT ALREADY KNOW THE
ANSWERS TO. YOUR CLUE IS THAT THE MURDERER IS NOT
Robert looked up, muttered to himself Really?
and surmised that he wasnt being given as
much help as the others.
Did you get your clue Robert? said
Yes, but it wasnt that enlightening.
Does anyone want to share their clues?
There were general smiles and silence all around.
Thats what I thought. Then Ill
just keep mine to myself too.
Laura couldnt contain her detective
instincts. While were waiting for
dessert, I think we should start exploring the
house, looking for evidence. Jim, would you like
to join me?
Jim readily agreed, comfortable working with a
detective. Sure Laura, pulling out
his small notepad, I need a lot more
information. Laura and Jim went upstairs.
A spotlight shows a wrench in a toolkit in the
corner of the room, and the sound of the soft
chime. Only Nancy and Antonio seemed to see the
wrench and subtly look in another direction.
Did anyone see what the chime announced?
said Antonio, diverting attention away from him
while trying to finesse information from the
others. Shaking heads and silence were the
Nancy, would you like to explore with me?
he said. Having completed her kitchen duties, she
Sure, sounds like an adventure. They
take the other stairway upstairs, on the opposite
side of the house behind the location of the
Robert decides to stay and make notes on his
tablet. I think Ill just consider the
facts from here for now. He discovers that
the house has a high-speed Wi-Fi connection as
well, not at all surprising, but something that
may be useful in his research.
Elizabeth gives Jenny a flirting glance, and then
asks. Jenny, youre kind of a
detective, examining patients and looking for
clues for a diagnosis.
Jenny replies to Elizabeth but addresses everyone.
I suppose so. But Im not sure of
anything except that Steven is the victim.
Then turning to David. Do you think that
there could be more than one murder?
David stroked his chin. It certainly is
possible, but I wont say any more than that.
At this point, the silhouetted figures of two
people kissing are visible in the monitor. Look
said Robert, so that everyone would get this clue.
John then decides he would like to go upstairs.
I think Ill explore by myself. This
is one time I dont trust anyone
laughing at his own comment. He starts by going
into the kitchen, although there are stairs to
the basement and second floor from there.
Robert looked at David. Arent you
going to search the house?
David replied no need. Im sure Im
not the murderer and I cant win the game.
Elizabeth walks by Jenny and whispers something
into her ear. Yes, I would like to find out
whats going on upstairs too. Jenny, would
you like to join me?
Jenny makes eye contact and smiles. Certainly,
at least to keep an eye on the others. They
take the stairway. Halfway up the stairs,
Elizabeth takes Jenny by the hand, although only
Robert noticed this fact.
David asked Robert, You dont seem to
be in a hurry to explore.
Robert looked up from his tablet. I think
the answer to this mystery lies in watching
others, listening to what they say and do and
what they dont say, like in court.
David smiles. You may have the right
strategy Robert. Good luck.
Laura comes back downstairs holding a bloody
dagger with a gloved hand. You might be
interested to see what I found in the attic.
Robert asks nervously David, I hope that
isnt real blood.
David replies of course not, just a piece
of the puzzle. Before they could continue
positing about the significance of the dagger,
the lights go out. We hear thunder and footsteps.
There is the shadow of a person running outside,
past the first floor window.
Although still in darkness, Robert points it out
to Laura. Did you see that?
Laura quickly deduced the significance. Yes.
That person was outside the house. If it were one
of us, they would forfeit the game. We should be
able to detect rain on their clothing.
The lights come back on and Nancy returns as well
announcing another discovery. I found a
clue. This rope was under a bed upstairs.
Forgetting that she was involved in a game, Laura
responded in her normal role as a detective.
Give that to me. There may be skin cells on
Robert contradicted her theory. Come now
Laura. You cant believe there has been an
actual murder here, do you?
Laura took a yard size white cloth out of her
pocket, laid the dagger and rope on it and said
Ill just keep an open mind until we
have some answers.
Nancy hears a chime in her earpiece and listens
for her clue.
YOUR SEARCH HAS BEEN REWARDED. YOU FOUND A
CLUE TO THE IDENTITY OF THE VICTIM. THE ROPE WAS
PLACED UNDER THE BED BY THE MURDERER TO DISTRACT
YOU. YOUR CLUE IS THAT THE VICTIM WAS POISONED.
Not wanting to let anyone know she got a clue,
she quickly changed the attention back to Laura.
By the way, wasnt Jim with you?
Laura responded naturally. Yes, but we
split up to cover more rooms. Wasnt Antonio
Nancy gave her answer quickly. He pulled a
disappearing act. I turned around and he had just
vanished. Ironic for a magician, yes?
Robert tried to put in a puzzle piece. We
saw the shadow of someone run across that window.
It could have been Antonio.
Laura added or Jim, John, Elizabeth or
Jenny. We will know more when everyone returns.
Just as his name was mentioned, John returned
from the kitchen, holding a small bottle of
liquid labeled Aconitum. I found
this hidden in a kitchen cabinet. Nancy, is there
any reason this would be used in cooking?
Nancy had never heard of the substance. Not
that I know of. David, is this a clue?
David took the bottle, read the label and then
opened it. Well, lets see and
he took a sip, shocking his guests. Well, I
guess its not real poison.
Laura realized the same fact. Lets
put it on the table with the dagger and rope.
Then she heard the chime in her earpiece and her
JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE A DETECTIVE, DO NOT
ASSUME THAT YOU ARE ABOVE SUSPICION. IN FACT,
SOMEONE IS TRYING TO LEAD OTHERS IN YOUR
DIRECTION. YOUR CLUE IS THAT THE MURDERER IS A
Robert summed it up. A dagger, rope and poison,
but no gun. Wasnt Steven killed by a
Laura assumed so. He must have been shot. I
heard the gun. Lets look for it.
Robert held up his hand. Wait a minute. Jims
in uniform and I think hes armed.
Jim returns to find the others staring at him.
Jim, we think your gun was used to kill
Jim is shocked. No, it wasnt,
showing his gun. Jim empties the bullets out and
one is missing. Someone is trying to frame
me. This gun hasnt been fired.
Then Laura says, Let me see your gun
officer. Jim hands her the gun. Hes
right. This gun hasnt been fired.
Jim was relieved to hear Laura defend him and now
he hears a chime with his clue.
AS A POLICE OFFICER, YOU PROBABLY EXAMINED ALL OF
THE EVIDENCE, BUT WHAT YOU DIDNT KNOW WILL
HELP YOU SOLVE THE CRIME. YOUR CLUE IS THAT THE
VICTIM IS A MAN.
But this one has said Jenny as she
comes into the room. I found this one
upstairs and its still smoking.
Roberts expression is incredulous. A
smoking gun. Really?
Jenny hands Laura the gun. Well, this may
be smoking, but its not a real gun. Its
a starter pistol, but it sounds like the real
thing. Laura puts the gun on the table with
the dagger, rope and poison.
Antonio and Elizabeth return. Whats
going on? said Antonio. Then he hears the
chime in his earpiece.
YOU ARE PROBABLY WONDERING WHY IT TOOK SO LONG TO
GET YOUR CLUE, BUT YOUR PATIENCE WILL PAY OFF.
YOUR CLUE IS THAT THE MURDERER LEFT THE HOUSE
DURING THE GAME.
Steven enters the library with a bag of money,
the kind you saw in the old monopoly game with an
oversized dollar sign on it. Here you go
David took the bag. Thank you Steven. Its
time for each of you to guess the name of the
Jim was first to guess. Well, lets
look at our clues. We have a dagger with blood on
it, a rope, a bottle of poison and a gun. I
think it is Antonio. He was missing at some key
times and hes the only one I cant
Jenny agreed. Yes, I think it was Antonio
Laura was the only real detective here. Surely
her guess would be correct. I think it was
Jim. Even though we ruled his gun out as the
weapon, he could have used the starter pistol
earlier. Antonio and Nancy readily got on
board with Lauras guess.
Robert added his thoughts. But what about
the person we saw running across the window? And
why didnt anyone have rain on his or her
clothing? I think it was Elizabeth. She was out
quite a bit.
John agreed with Robert. Yes, Elizabeth.
She was out a couple times.
Elizabeth was surprised to hear she was being
accused. She knew she didnt murder Steven.
Well, I happen to know the murderers
name had five letters. It was my personal clue,
so I think it had to be Nancy. After all, there
was poison in the kitchen.
David gave everyone the answer they had been
waiting for. Youre all wrong!
Actually, Steven was the murderer. He poisoned ME
with the soup. But since I am required to manage
the game, I could not divulge my secret until now.
Remember the directions I gave you in the
beginning. Only personal clues are accurate;
whatever else you see, hear or infer could be
misleading. You are likely to see and hear many
things. Dont trust anyone.
Elizabeth objected. Wait, my clue was that
the murderers name had five letters.
Then David explained. Yes, Steven has five
letters. S T E V and N. The E is used twice.
David points to Steven. He doesnt
have rabbit hairs on his trousers anymore because
he changed clothing when he came inside from the
rain. His clothing was dry and there werent
any rabbit hairs from when the rabbit cuddled up
against him earlier. This means that no one here
was correct and this money will go to charity.
The guests applauded David for his generosity and
asked about having another game next year.
Nancys refined sense of smell alerted her.
Something smells funny.
Robert looked up. Its
coming from upstairs.
Jim heads upstairs and returns with the package
delivered earlier. The smell is definitely
coming from this package. While Jim took a
note out from brown paper wrapping, the guests
looked at each other, while grimacing with the
increasingly putrid smell.
What does it say Jim? People are
holding their noses now, making exaggerated
sounds of disgust. Jim reads the note out loud.
To our detectives. I know you have all
done your best to solve our mystery. Heres
some final food for thought. Jim opens the
box to show everyone the rotting contents. I
hope you enjoyed the red herrings.
With no winner, the guests finish their drinks
and have dessert. During the evening,
acquaintances became friends and promises were
made to keep in touch. A date to get together at
Nancys restaurant was confirmed. David
joins the others in an oversized limousine and
Steven drives everyone to a jazz club in San
Mozarts chamber music emanated from the
room speakers. The ominous sounds of owls,
thunder and footsteps are gone. The sound of rain
has been replaced by the swishing of washing
dishes and the wind gusts by the vacuuming of
carpets. Although no one was ever in danger, the
house has taken on a peaceful, if not sedate,
demeanor. Finally, Maria has finished putting
away the dishes and is wiping down the excess
water around the sink when she hears a chime. She
pauses and looks at the speaker above her head
when a voice comes on.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO JOIN ME FOR A DRINK?