On May 14th, I took a half day from work to participate in the second virtual murder mystery weekend from Tall Tales Mysteries (“A First Class Murder” – Titanic theme!!!). The event took place in the evening, but with six time zones separating me and the event host, I had to adjust my schedule to sign on just a bit early. And it was well worth it, again.
I previously wrote at length about the first murder mystery weekend, Sweet Murder, from Tall Tales Mysteries. I wont recap everything a second time, but the short version is that it’s the most delightful way for a mystery lover to spend a weekend getting deeply embroiled in an elaborate plot with twists and turns abound.
Like the first weekend, the second murder mystery weekend featured plenty of bells & whistles beyond the extensive murder mystery plot, including a forensics lab (Think Forensic), an interview with a crime author (Martin Edwards), and a magic show (Rich Reynolds).
One thing I really enjoyed was that even though the events followed the same template (author + magic + forensic), repeat attendees got 100% new content to enjoy. No trick, demonstration, or question was reused from the first murder mystery weekend, meaning all the events were still just as captivating in the second murder mystery weekend as they were in the first.
Martin Edwards is a startingly accomplished author- “crime writing royalty,” as the synopsis for his Q&A states. He’s won an incredible number of prestigious awards for his career in crime writing and is the current president of the Detection Club, an organization for elite mystery writers that has only had nine presidents, including Agatha Christie and GK Chesterton, in its ninety-one-year history. It was utterly fascinating hearing his take on crime writing.
The magic show with Rich Reynolds was remarkable start to finish, as well. My mind was blown several times. The trick that shocked me the most was when he, with hands extended out far into empty space, spun cash into lottery tickets and vice versa. I could see his hands the whole time, and his sleeves were nowhere close, yet right in front of my eyes I saw him change the items. Extremely neat. It was also fun when I got to participate in one of his acts by virtue of having a Rubik’s Cube handy!
Think Forensic shared some completely new skills with the group this time around. In the first murder mystery weekend, we learned a lot about fingerprinting. This time around, we focused on blood spatter analysis and text analysis/profiling, both which made for good interactive exhibits we could fully participate in. Even though the event started at 5AM Chicago time, I was still fully engaged and happy to follow along, making “blood” spatters of my own and observing the patterns.
I’ve written at length and still haven’t touched at all on the main course for the weekend- the murder mystery itself. And before I dive into the nuts and bolts of that experience, there’s one key difference I want to highlight. The mini character role!
In Sweet Murder, I played a mini character named Des Gruntled- a private investigator searching for the long lost son of the murdered magnate. This time around, I played Walter Kloin, seventh officer aboard the Titanic. So far, it seems pretty similar, right? Well, there was one BIG difference. A First Class Murder cut the number of mini characters down to six total, and every mini character had secrets aplenty. There was even an additional whodunnit amongst the mini characters!
It was extremely fun (and kept me on my toes!) playing such an elaborate role. It really gave me an appreciation for how great the actors are who play the main roles in these events. I prepared extensively but even then, I still was caught off guard by a question here and there and needed to consult my character booklet to make sure I didn’t misspeak and send investigators down the totally wrong trail or give away too much of what I knew. It was also really fun playing out my character’s likes and dislikes and casting aspersions on the characters my character didn’t get along with.
The mystery itself was brilliantly elaborate and fitting for a full weekend of sleuthing. Multiple murders (and multiple murderers?), a blackmailer, and an accomplice- a lot to be on the hunt for! Discoveries were paced throughout the weekend, and every single break in the action led to a few more threads to pursue. Sara, the writer at Tall Tales Mysteries, wove together a truly impressive web to untangle.
I mentioned it before, but it’s worth saying again- I have no idea how the actors do what they do. When someone asks my mini character a question, it’s all I can do to come up with an answer that’s accurate, satisfying, and doesn’t give away everything I know. The actors manage to do all that, plus add in clever character bits, all while maintaining the characters’ personas. I could not be more impressed.
So how did I do on the mystery? Well, at the end of the weekend, I landed one of the top detective prizes! I correctly pegged 1+ murderer, 1 blackmailer, and 1 accomplice! (No spoilers) It felt great to hit the nail on the head and get everything right.
I hope the future holds more virtual murder mystery weekends from Tall Tales Mysteries. It’s a ton of work for Sara to set these up, but the result is an event without peer. Thankfully, Tall Tales Mysteries still has one-day online murder mystery events available, and I’m going to be looking to pick a handful of these to join. And hopefully some day soon, I’ll be able to fly back across the Atlantic to join an in-person Tall Tales Mysteries event! I really appreciate all the hard work and preparation Sara and the team put into crafting and playing out such wonderful mysteries and look forward to the next one.