There’s Been a Murder by Chris Longmuir
|Murder Mystery Cast|
I occasionally write about public appearances, and I’ve done my fair share of them. I’ve talked to a variety of groups, in church halls, hotels, meeting rooms, libraries, readers’ events, and conventions/conferences. But a recent event I was invited to take part in will remain in my memory as one of the most pleasurable experiences I’ve had on the talking circuit.
You can see my recent events on the News page of my website http://www.chrislongmuir.co.uk/index.php/news and in among them is the event I want to tell you about.
When I was asked if I’d be a willing victim in a murder/mystery event at Carnoustie library in my home county of Angus, it sounded as if it might be fun and I accepted with alacrity. And I wasn’t wrong. It was hilarious, and the audience and actors (amateur) had a most enjoyable time.
I arrived early on the day to go through the details. We’d had a rehearsal the week before, so it was just a question of where everything was, and how we would move the audience to the crime scene at the appropriate time. The body was in the mobile library van at the back door of Carnoustie library, so there would need to be a mass exodus to view it.
With time to spare I set out my table with all of my books on display stands, and fingers crossed they would entice some of the readers in the audience. And with spot-on timing the audience arrived early to cluster round my display table, and I sold a few books before being called away for the local newspaper’s photoshoot. This was excellent timing because it allowed me to arrive late (planned) for the talk.
On my cue, I arrived flustered, carrying my handbag, one glove, a news-sheet featuring that morning’s solar eclipse, and full of excuses. By the way, there really was an eclipse that morning.
Once the excuses were out of the way I launched into my talk as myself, pleasant, amusing, interesting, and all the other nice adjectives you can think of, and hoping this would be the persona that would remain in the minds of the audience, rather than the more unpleasant persona of my character.
After the first 15 minutes, I was rudely interrupted by Detective Inspector Hemlock, complete with long trench coat, deerstalker hat, and Sherlock Holmes pipe. She strode into the room, and halted the proceedings with the announcement “There’s been a murder”.
That was the moment I had to go into character as the indignant, very important author, objecting to the interruption.
|The investigation proceeds|
The investigation proceeded, aided and abetted by the white-clad CSI examiner, Incy W. Quincy, PC Constable, Kelly Kodak, local reporter and photographer, and not forgetting the body, local reporter, Willie Right. I was the only one allowed to retain my own name, which was fitting for ‘such an important author’. I trust you know I’m kidding when I say that.
Pieces of evidence were displayed to the audience, the answers to which were the titles of various books – ten in total. The prize for guessing the answers, plus guessing who murdered Willie Right, was the choice of one of my books which I had offered as a prize, all in the spirit of the thing, you understand.
Everything went smoothly, and I loved Incy W. Quincy’s comment when the body was being inspected –“If the body moves, do not be alarmed, it will only be escaping gas”.
|D.I. Hemlock, CSI, IncyW. Quincy, and Willie Right, the body|
The motive for the murder was a simple one, and I'm sure will appeal to most writers. It was the bad reviews Willie Right had published, such as:
- More intrigue and mystery can be found inside the pages of the Beano;
- I've been more puzzled by a crossword;
- I was wishing I could be murdered just to put me out of my misery from reading this book.
- (Thank goodness they were fictional!)
And, of course, you’ve guessed it. The murderer was that obnoxious, full of her own importance, author, Chris Longmuir, who was led off in handcuffs at the end. They were real handcuffs as well, and my only worry was whether the key would work to allow me my freedom, or whether I’d remain cuffed and miss my share of the cake.
|The cast queuing up for the cake, even the body is there!|
However, cuffs off, and my freedom regained, I was able to get rid of the self-important author role, and become myself again.
The audience was brilliant, the actors performed magnificently, we all had a great time hamming it up, the cake was excellent, and I sold a shed load of books.
I do hope they ask me to do this again, because I’d be there in a heartbeat.