Fun Hunting A Killer

Fun Hunting A Killer
Terry Odell

Hunt a Killer

(No, I haven’t forgotten that it’s St. Patrick’s Day. More about that at the end of this post).

Thanks to stumbling across a friend’s post on Facebook, the Hubster and I discovered a new project. We’d gone the jigsaw puzzle route, but this was something different.

What are we doing? Solving a murder. It’s called Hunt A Killer. What is it? A detective game. You can play alone or with others.

Here’s the setup:

Private investigator Michelle Gray needs your help with yet another perplexing mystery. A woman named Julia Adler has recently found a mummified corpse in the attic of her family-owned theater. The remains belong to the famed actress Viola Vane, who notoriously disappeared in 1934. Now that Vane’s body has been unearthed after decades, you can finally investigate the million-dollar question: Who orchestrated the vanishing of Viola Vane?

Here’s how it works:

Each episode ends with your action to piece together another aspect of the overall mystery. In Curtain Call, this isn’t just about finding evidence and eliminating suspects. You’ll be called upon to uncover all aspects of the case – including the suspects’ secrets and their relationships to Viola, as well as to one another. Follow your contact’s assignments to advance the investigation, but examine every document closely to reveal the full story of the Cadence Theatre.

Hunt A KillerOnce a month, for six months, we get a box of evidence and clues. Of course, some will be red herrings. Each box comes with an objective. For box one, it was to determine the murder weapon. We sifted through forensics reports, newspaper clippings, theater programs, stage notes. There are more clues on the website dedicated to each crime. Of course, finding the monthly objective isn’t enough, because each month’s evidence will build on the previous months’.

Hunt A KillerWe’ve set up a murder board (honestly, I think this is what convinced the Hubster this could be fun), solved different kinds of ciphers, started a timeline, come up with potential suspects, worked on the relationships between everyone…and there’s more.

Since this is an 80-year-old case (created for the game), there are no survivors who can answer questions. We have to rely on what’s in our evidence boxes, or on the website where some more transcripts and pictures might be hiding more clues. Oh, and there are Facebook groups for each episode where people can ask questions if they’re stumped. It’s moderated to avoid spoilers.

Did the forensic anthropologist leave out relevant information? Who wrote the rehearsal notes? Is the shopping list jotted in the middle of those notes a clue? Do the dog roses refer to an incident in the play as an inside joke for the cast and crew, or will they be important? What about the letters to “Dear Dorothy” in the newspaper clipping? Why did the understudy take over Viola’s role? There’s a ton of information to sift through, and this is only box 1!

In addition to the game itself, they give you drink recipes and a Spotify playlist to get you in the mood. And gifts. We got a cocktail recipe book and two copper mugs.

Hunt A KillerWe’ve been having as much fun testing the libations as we have trying to interpret evidence.

We’ve only completed the first box so I can’t go into much more detail. If you want to move faster, there’s the option to expedite the next box once you’ve met the objective, but we’re letting things play out on the monthly schedule because there’s so much more to ferret out. I’m not going to go into specifics about what we’ve discovered in case anyone here at TKZ wants to give this a try. If you’re writing mysteries, you should already have the mindset for crime solving, and it’s a great way to keep those deductive processes honed.

Disclaimer: I’m sharing this because the Hubster and I have been having so much fun, and I thought some TKZers might like to know about it. (Of course, there are probably a bunch of you out there who wonder why I’m so late to the party.) I get nothing from the company for talking about their program.

St. Patrick's Day

As promised: Since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, I thought you might be interested in how it’s celebrated in Northern Ireland, where my daughter lives. Hint: There’s no green beer.


Terry Odell is an award-winning author of Mystery and Romantic Suspense, although she prefers to think of them all as “Mysteries with Relationships.” Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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22 thoughts on “Fun Hunting A Killer

    • It is. It’s interesting to watch my scientist Hubster read, re-read, and question everything in the packet. And, with his background, he’s picked up on a few things I would have missed.

  1. Terry, I admire your restraint in sticking to one subscription box. The concept has been around for a long time but has really, really branched out in the past couple of years to the point where it includes mysteries as well as just about everything one could think of and a few things that most people wouldn’t! I’ve been tempted but haven’t succumbed, because once I bought one I’d have a half-dozen or so landing on my doorstep every month. I have been sorely tempted, however, by The Crate of Cthulu https://mysteriouspackage.com/products/the-crate-of-cthulhu. Thanks for sharing your experiences and the box contents, as well as your linked account of how the Irish celebrate their holiday.

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Terry!

    • Thanks, Joe. I’ve been moderately aware of games, but until a friend posted about this one, I wasn’t interested. It is with some modicum of restraint that we’re not expediting shipments as soon as we meet the objective of a box. There’s SO much more to deal with, and as I mentioned to Priscilla, the Hubster wants to absorb every detail. Thanks for the link. From what I can see, you just get ONE “box.” With the Hunt A Killer program, each of their crimes has six separate parts. Makes it less costly.

  2. Neat. Sounds like fun. Great post. And thanks for the link. I like the comments on the site under FAQ’s, “Isn’t this a little expensive?” The answer: “It’s cheaper than a night out with friends.” It would be a great group activity with friends. Do you get feedback as to whether you are on the right track at the end of each month’s assignment?

    Thanks for the link to your newsletter and insight on how St. Paddy’s is celebrated in Northern Ireland.

    • When we thought about how much we weren’t spending in restaurants (or even takeout since we’re so far away from eateries), this seemed very reasonably priced. We did the subscription for 6 months, which gives a discount (and that neat gift).
      When you think you’ve solved the box’s objective–in this case, find the murder weapon–you email your answer, and they’ll tell you if you’re right or wrong. No penalty for being wrong, you just try again.

  3. A friend was born and raised in Belfast. He didn’t understand American St. Patrick’s day at all. He expected to go to church, go home and have a family meal, and have a shot or two of Paddy’s Irish Whisky.

    Living in the Shadow of the Anheuser-Busch brewery for several years convinced him that a German beer could indeed be Irish and celebratory when drunk at 9:00AM.

    • My daughter moved to Lisburn about 12 years ago–very near Belfast. She sets us straight on customs. This morning she tweeted “There were NEVER snakes in Ireland.”
      However, because I LIKE corned beef, I’ll be cooking the American version of a St. Patrick’s Day dinner tonight.

      • One cartoon I follow online is “Breaking Cat News,” about a family’s cats reporting local news. Anyway, last year, they introduced me to St Catty’s Day, an alternative to St. Pat’s because he was “a snake bully.” The holiday celebrates St. Gertrude of Nivelles, the patron saint of cats. Local animal shelters normally use the day to promote cat adoptions. “BCN” is really charming and sweet, suitable for kids and adults, and you can find it at GoComics.

    • My son-in-law was taking a similar class. I’ve used him as a resource when my characters might need the skill.

  4. Sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing this, Terry. My wife & I went to a dress-up murder mystery about 25 years ago. It was at a resort and came with dinner, drinks, and live actors – an expensive night out with friends but well worth it. I was a real detective back then and under a lot of pressure to solve the crime. Sad to say, but I was wrong. On another note, I’m of Irish descent. My grandfather was from Ballymena and my kids did a family tree trace and found we’re blood-related to the actor Liam Neeson. Never met the guy though.

    • My husband traced his ancestry back to the Fairbanks family, so he’s descended from Charles Warren Fairbanks, the vice president under Teddy Roosevelt. And, the origin of Odell appears NOT to be Irish.

    • Garry, around the same time, I played a suspect in two different “Murder At the Library” programs for kids at the libraries I worked at. It was fun trying to act suspicious and watch the kids try to figure out the identity of the murderer. It wasn’t me either time.

  5. Terry, this sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for the clue on where to pick up the game. But copper mugs?

    My husband and I attended a mystery dinner where someone was “murdered” and the actors presented clues and did a good job of misleading everyone — including me.

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

    • If you’re seriously interested after you check it out, Kay, I can give you a referral which might save you some money. The copper mugs are traditional for serving Moscow Mules.

  6. This puzzle sounds like so much fun, Terry. One of my sisters is participating in something similar. Every month she gets the pattern for one quilt square, a list of colors, and a chapter of a mystery story. The images in the complex quilt squares are supposed to include all the clues she needs to solve the mystery. At two chapters into the story, she’s more frustrated about getting her squares the same size and shape than worried about getting the clues sorted.

  7. Terry, a very fun post! Sounds like a very entertaining subscription game. I’m a big gamer–it’s a hobby I love. My wife and I own the board game, Chronicles of Crime, where you work to solve various cases in the UK and elsewhere, and get to use your smart phone to help with the game, including using the phone to let you do an augmented reality search of various crime scenes.

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

    • I’m learning how far behind the curve I’ve been, only now discovering these games. Thanks for sharing.

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