Solving the murder at a murder mystery party

In an interactive murder mystery party, anyone can solve the murder - not just detectives, sleuths and private investigators.

This page provides tips for solving the murder.

Two players try to solve the murder at a murder mystery partySolving the murder

You are the detective

Murder mystery parties give you the chance to act out the role of your favourite detective - whether it's Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes or Hercules Poirot.

While many murder mystery parties have a role specifically for the detective, everyone can join the hunt for the murderer.

Sometimes the games are written so that even the murderer doesn't know that they have committed the crime - so they can join in the fun.

So while these tips will help detectives, they will also help anyone else trying to solve the murder.

(And if you're playing the murderer, these may help you cover your trail...)

Solving the murder means understanding the Holy Trinity of murder mysteries: means, opportunity, and motive.

Means - how the murder was committed

Means is probably the easiest of the three to determine. By "means", I mean how the murder was carried out, and examining the body will usually tell you this.

Typical examples include stabbing, shooting, poisoning, drowning and so on.

With something like poison, you might need to discover how it was administered. Was it something the victim ate or drank? Was the toxin injected?

Sometimes it's not always easy to work out how the victim died - particularly if there are other wounds or marks.

Also, the murder might be disguised as an accident.

Once you have determined the means, you should have more avenues of investigation.

For example, if the victim was shot, who has access to a gun? This line of questioning brings us to the next in the Holy Trinity: opportunity.

Opportunity

Opportunity refers to the timing and planning of the murder rather than the exact method of killing.

With poisoning, for example, it means having the appropriate access to deliver the poison - such as in a bedtime drink, favourite chocolate, or whatever.

Opportunity also means being in the right place and time to commit the murder.

Once you know where and when the dirty deed was committed, you can eliminate anyone with a concrete alibi from your questioning.

Motive - why was the victim killed?

Which brings us to motive.

Motive answers the question: why was the victim killed?

Motive can be the easiest and hardest of the Holy Trinity to solve.

Sometimes there are many people with a good motive to kill, and sometimes it's hard to find anyone with any motive.

So you should first ask, "Who benefits?"

Who has the most to gain from the victim's death?

And if it's not immediately apparent, you must talk to everyone.

(And even if it is immediately apparent, you may still have to talk to everyone as the murderer isn't always the person with the most obvious motive. Things are rarely as straightforward as that!)

If nothing else, whenever you talk to one of the other guests at a murder mystery party, ask them who they think killed the victim. Someone will have a clue as to the identity of the murderer, but without asking absolutely everyone, you might never find them.

Beware of red herrings

You need to watch for the tricks and twists that can confuse things further.

Such confusions can include the misdirected murder (where the victim wasn't the intended victim but just was in the wrong place at the wrong time) and murder-by-proxy (where the murderer isn't the one with most to gain, but is a misguided friend or servant).

Wrapping it all up

Here are my tips for solving a murder mystery:

  • Find a piece of paper and write down three headings: Motive, Means and Opportunity. Then, as the party progresses and you learn more about the murder, write down what you know on the paper under the appropriate heading.
  • Keep a checklist of everyone present and work through them, one by one. For example, most murder mystery parties have a list of characters present, so you can use that to ensure that you don't miss anyone.

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NEw game

Murder on the Istanbul Express - for 7-11 guests

Don't know where to start?

Here's my suggested quick route through the site:

Step 1 - Go to Choosing a Game to choose the game that suits your party best.

Step 2 - Review the Tips for Hosts for helpful advice.

Step 3 - If you want to keep up to date with the latest murder mystery game news, click on my What's New page.

Step 4 - Once you've had your party - tell me how it went! Click here to tell me your murder mystery party story.

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