This past weekend was our 4th ANNUAL Murder Mystery Party. The day I went to purchase the information for our party, the company we usually use (Night of Mystery) had some technical difficulties and their website was down for most of the weekend, we were on a time crunch and couldn’t take the risk so I went on a hunt for a new company for this year.
Just to explain a little more clearly, in the past, we discovered that Night of Mystery only had one Christmas themed party, we decided to branch out and try a different company, we went with MyMysteryParty‘s Who Slayed Santa. I remember thinking as I put the party together “Yikes! this seems like it is not so great in quality.” That year though the party itself was a little rough around the edges it made complete sense and we all had a blast. I was not left feeling like I had wasted my money, and though the character names were awful, the party itself wasn’t half bad.
The following year we returned to Night of Mystery. As we knew would happen, everyone enjoyed it to the fullest. It was amazing!
So this year, you can imagine our disappointment when after waiting more than 24 hours and their website was still down. I went on a hunt. Started with twitter, and googled a little bit, and found this website called Shot in the Dark Mysteries. The reviews were all positive, and though her website was lacking, I thought it was fascinating that she wrote them all herself, and that she offered custom parties. I read the descriptions to Mitchell and we decided to do the Christmas Party Murder. As I was printing off everything, it hit me. I felt instant buyer’s remorse. Reading through all the pages, I realized this woman was incredibly self absorbed. Each character description started off with the exact same three pages, of her explaining what SHE would do if SHE were there. A letter to each person telling them how to play her game. The first two pages, though completely unnecessary, and very long, weren’t what bothered me. It was that with EVERY single file she included a photo of herself. Look, if she had included this in the host file, I would have totally understood, but it’s only necessary once, I am SO GLAD that I noticed it after printing only one of the files, otherwise I would have been SO upset that I wasted so much paper and ink.
If that had been the only negative thing about this party, I certainly wouldn’t be writing this blog post, or at least not a review like this. That, is only where the awful starts.
Typically, when you purchase a murder mystery party, it includes everything you need. Invites, character descriptions, and lists of tasks for participants, as well as other extras (signs, decor, money, voting papers for who was the killer, all sorts of extras.) I don’t expect all murder mystery parties to be as well put together as Night of Mystery, but I do expect it to have structure, and make sense. I expect it to have ALL the information we need. This party by Shot in the Dark Mysteries was very poorly put together.
I could literally sit here all night and pick apart everything, the cheap poorly designed name tags (that we did not use) the constant reminder that “she” (Leigh clements) wrote this party, and many many many more issues we had… but most importantly I want to discuss the actual party, and just how poorly written it was.
The party guests came with VERY little information on who their character was and background information. I gave them their “share” and “Hide” information at the party. The first question everyone asked was about her Character complexity rating scale. I would like to clarify, that it is not at all accurate. One of the characters was rated a level 5, which meant she was supposedly one of the most “complex” characters. Fact, she was “complex” I suppose, if adding in a character that has NOTHING to do with anything else in the story. If you mean making one of the characters unknown, and putting in the conclusion that she murdered her husband years before, but that she didn’t know anyone else at the party. If that means she’s a complex character, then sure.
The whole story was incredibly disjointed, and flowed terribly. It was AWFUL. I’m sure that if Leigh Clements is reading this she’s probably fuming. Thinking or saying things like “If the participants had asked the right questions…”
Here’s the thing, Leigh, if you’re reading this. I spent over $40 for your party, and expected that it, at the VERY least, flow nicely. That in the end, even if the storyline was awful, that everyone understood who the murderer was. If we had left the party that night, and not had any frustration, I would not be writing this blog.
Instead, we spent almost 2 hours trying to figure out just exactly what happened. We discovered that you failed to include details.
Frank McClean, lets start there. FBI agent that is also a model? Ignoring the obvious flaws in that story, you never planted the seed that we all needed to know he was a double agent chasing after a murderer. We all would have suspected Andrea (I do believe that was the character in question.) Instead, you included details that were unrelated to the party, and even gave details to some of the characters (example: Daniel wasn’t invited to the party, He knows this but CAROLA THE PARTY PLANNER DIDN’T KNOW THIS DETAIL.)
Still not believing me that this was a poorly written party? The number one question every character kept asking me was “Who is throwing this party?” My reply? Towards the end of the evening it used much more colorful language because I was becoming so frustrated with this party. but essentially my reply was “How the hell should I know? I’m only the freaking “party planner.” Hell, I don’t even know who was actually on the guest list.”
I asked all of my guests to give their biggest issue with the party. Here are their replies:
Friend that played Max:
“No one had information on anyone and we were all just in the dark of where the game was supposed to go”
Friend that played Andrea:
“I felt that our characters didnt connect well, especially mine, i had absolutely nothing to do with anyone else and while my backstory would’ve made me a prime suspect no one had reason to question me.”
Friend that played Betty:
“Worst thing was not knowing that I was supposed to speak with people.”
Friend that played Karen:
“The character’s hidden information had information that wasn’t relevant to the solving of the murder. Also, other characters had information about my own character that I didn’t even know. Overall, as someone who has participated in a few of these, is was a very disorganized murder mystery game.”
Friend that played Thomas:
“The fact that the super wealthy and kinda shady jeweler didn’t know who the con artist smuggler was. And the clues that were supposed to make certain character look suspicious were too random and made no sense”
Friend that played Daniel:
“the worst problem I had was that every person should have at least one piece of someone else’s hide information or that portion of hide info just shouldn’t be in there to begin with…”
Friend that played Morrison:
“There was information that the characters weren’t suppose to share that would have helped a little bit with each character.”
Two of my friends told me in person but I felt it wouldn’t be accurate if I tried to re-create our conversation. I think even without their opinions you get the idea. This was by far the worst most poorly written party I’ve ever attended.
Mitchell puts it really well when he says that he believes that Leigh was writing several different books one day and just decided to quit writing them and shove them together to try and make a murder mystery party. That, I think sums up the essence of this dud.
If you’re reading this looking for more information on her parties, and if you should buy one, I highly suggest you do not. There are MANY MANY MANY better companies out there who provide you much more for the same price (or less!) don’t waste your time, money or energy on these parties….Unless you and your guests want to spend 2 hours reading everyone’s hide information and try to piece the party together. Spoiler. It’s not possible unless you do this.