A Halloween Murder Mystery That May Stir Your Usually Law-Abiding Community
This is a murderous age! To be successful, the modern novelist knows he must first kill his man and then find the murderer. "Oh," shivers the sweet young thing at your bridge party, "I've just finished the sweetest murder! By I. O. Dyne, you know, who did 'The Double Killing on the Roof.' I haven't slept a wink for nights. This ace of spades makes me positively quake. For that's how they found the body, you know! Somebody saw the gardener carrying a spade-oh, it was ghastly-" and so on to the lurid end.
And if it isn't a murder mystery book, then it's a murder movie. In short, it has become a social error not to know who killed Cock Robin, and no hostess can hope to be the life of the party unless she is an adept at murdering by proxy.
Then why not let its "outing" be on Hallowe'en night? If your crowd is the happy young sort that wants to be out on the street on such a gala occasion, then this is the sort of party that will keep them there until the body is found, when they can retire to the morgue to cool off a little!
Sometimes a club or society would like to give a Hallowe'en affair for which tickets are sold, the proceeds going to the treasury or to some other good cause. The party we describe could be just the thing, and it is guaranteed to make a "killing!"
Advertising posters are put in store windows; the local paper runs a ridiculous write-up of the fake murder. A souvenir miniature "extra" could be put out-"All about the murder-r!"-a few advertisements paying for its printing. Donated prizes are
exhibited in the window of the biggest store and inside, seated at a great desk, sits the Chief of Police, issuing "hunting licenses"
tickets-for a dollar. A few comedy sheriff assist him. The tickets have numbers on them from one to ten-according to the number of your clue stations-and the sheriff explains to the customer that on the night of the man hunt one of these numbers will be punched at each of the clue stations called at in the course of the search.
Advertising Your Halloween Murder Mystery Party
Posters advertising the affair should show a picture of the murdered man. He should have the Rogues Gallery cast of countenance. The "Wanted" dodgers issued by the police departments show the type. Below the picture print his name, "Spooky Speak easy." Then the following announcement:
Spooky Speakeasy, who ran a Tough Joint Selling bad moonshine and toddy, Was MURDERED last evening-but this is the point,
WHAT DID THEY DO WITH THE BODY?
Will you assist us to hunt his REMAINS?
Following CLUES as directed?
A HANDSOME REWARD you may win for your pains-
TWO if the body's dissected.
GET YOUR LICENSE AT ...... Price One Dollar
Search starts from the Jail at 9 o'clock, Halloween evening.
Being an elaboration of that old favorite of our childhood, the wild goose chase, can be done on any scale; but if you expect to have the whole town out hunting for the remains, anticipate the excitement by appointing an executive committee of master minds to plan and direct the search. Put the local editor on your committee. Offer him the grand "scoop" of a sensational murder for a little free publicity! A real chief of police, if he happens to have the time to spare and a sense of humor, is a wonderful help to amateur sleuths.
Planning the Murder Mystery
The ground to be covered in the hunt must be carefully mapped out. If its compass is too great to be traveled on foot, cars will be necessary. A young man, when buying his ticket, will doubtless buy another for his girl and take her and his car along on the search. "Sheriffs," when selling tickets, can find out whether the buyer will drive his car, and a few extra cars with drivers can be at hand for those who need them on the night of the hunt.
Clues For a Halloween Murder Mystery
The incriminating clues lead to the body. These clues can be as few or as many as you wish. Local interest is stirred to a fine frenzy if these are placed in well-known haunts of the town. This is the time "vh n the jail makes a good start! Other more or less popular haunts could be the (2) library or schoolhouse, (3) shoe store or cobbler's, (4) post office, (5) bank, (6) garage, (7) cigar store or hotel, (8) railway station, (9) morgue (home of hostess).
Each rhymed clue leads to another, and it is well to plant them in places frequented by the public, so that lazy searchers may find that their wily scheme to lie low and follow the crowd isn't such a brainy idea, after all, since the said crowd may chance to be more interested in catching the 9:40 express than the murderer.
Stationed at each Clue Station is a "sheriff," who examines the "license" of each searcher and the clues he has gathered, and if all is in good order, punches the license, returns it and orders him to "move on."
The start, we'll say, is from the jail. At nine o'clock sharp, sheriffs hand each searcher a detective's badge and a long, narrow, white card on which are typed directions for finding the first clue. This jail card reads:
Search for a building where thumb prints abound
There, in a book, will his thumb prints be found.
This will do equally well for library or schoolhouse. Searchers instantly step on the gas and follow their hunch. Arrived at the right place, a sheriff is found seated at a table. He examines the searchers to see whether they are wearing the "official badge," punches each license at the number two, and takes from the leaves of a telephone directory another card, which carries a lampblack thumb print at the top. Below are the typed directions for finding the next clue, reading:
Where are his foot prints?
And what were their size?
Somebody soled 'em, and he'll put you wise.
This leads to the boot shop or cobbler's (according to the way you spell soled!) where another sheriff awaits, to check up on clues, punch licenses at number three, and hand out cards on which a little brown paper sole has been pasted, beneath which are further directions:
Handwriting experts say forging comes hard-
Who has his handwriting down on a card?
Who but the postmaster? So away go the amateur sleuths to the post office, where a sheriff awaits them with the inevitable punch and a postcard apiece. On the message side is a badly-scrawled penciled greeting,"I'm taking Spooky for a ride," and in place of the address, the directions:
Passed out a check that was phoney, by heck!
Did he get by with it? Look for the check.
The bank, of course! Bogus checks for a thousand dollars are handed out, each marked "Insufficient Funds." On the reverse side is printed:
What was the number of murderer's car?
Ask the garage man-he doesn't live far!
There may be several garages in town; if so, have your sheriff stationed at the most remote of all. After the usual business of checking and punching, he hands out a card bearing some outlandish number, and directions for finding the next clue:
Yes, he was smoking preceding his flight;
Where did he borrow his matches that night?
This ought to confuse them a little; for the search must be difficult enough to be exciting, and no murder case is complete without a few blind clues. After one or two unsuccessful attempts, they will find the cigar store, (hotel, club room, movie house or fire station), where the clue has been planted. A sheriff, after examining their clues, punches their licenses at number seven, and hands them a card through which a dead match has been thrust. Below is printed:
Where did he go with his gun and his gags?
Was his address on his wardrobe trunk tags?
The seekers go Sherlock-Holmesing it to the railway station, where, the usual checking done, they receive baggage labels containing final directions for finding the body. On each label is pasted a tiny kodak picture of the house, hall or club room where the searchers are to gather for the rest of the evening's fun. Below is printed:
Here you may find, if you go where you're led,
Maybe the murderer-maybe the dead!
The first two to arrive on the scene with complete set of clues receive the reward, but not before they have "viewed the body." This is laid out in an another room labeled "The Morgue," and is merely a new version of the old Chamber of Horrors. It can be as ghastly as weird blue lights and suggestions from your latest blood-and-murder-best seller can make it. If the body is dissected, it adds to the thrilling discovery. For in stance, a macaroni windpipe dangling from a string,an old set of false teeth, a nicely tinted clay ear, an old wig, and a glass eye lent by an obliging optician make convincingly gruesome remains."
The Murder Mystery Halloween Party Festivities
And though the orchestra starts up and the searchers dance, they are not allowed to forget the crime. For at intervals, excited sheriffs burst in on the merry scene, stop the music with a shrill whistle and arrest one or two of the guests "on suspicion."
These suspicions are deliciously far fetched. For instance, it is announced that word has just reached headquarters that the banker, the Episcopal rector and his wife were playing golf on the day of the murder. Why were they playing golf on that particular day? A boy has testified that he distinctly heard an owl hoot and a dog bark while they were on the course. Police think this was a decoy-that the noise was made by a human being who was possibly the murderer trying to disguise himself. There fore, will the suspected persons alternately hoot and bark to see whether they sound murderous?
Another dance is held up while all are searched. A toy gun which has been secretly slipped into a girl's vanity case makes another explosion. A red-inked handkerchief found in the pocket of another adds more color to the crime! An unassuming member of the orchestra is dragged into the spotlight to describe how he would murder a man. His hesitating manner is considered very significant. Pretty girls are singled out for the third degree because they have a killing manner. The most popular boy in the room is heavily guarded by a stern-looking sheriff because it is reported that his mother said he could get away with murder.
And even as the party breaks up, the eye of the law is still grimly on it; for a real policeman has been persuaded to stand at the exit. He speeds each parting guest with a disquietingly searching glance. All hurry furtively by; for he is quite obviously still looking for the Guilty Party!