Jen Blood here, coming to you in the midst of a very hectic moving day in Mid-Coast Maine. In my last post, I talked about the Murder Mystery Mashup at this year’s Books in Boothbay, which I helped Sisters in Crime New England stage at Boothbay Railway Village this past Saturday, July 9. It seems only fitting, then, to give you the solution to that mystery (and a little rundown on how things went) in this month’s post.
The mystery itself — in which mystery author Eunice K. Stoneheart finds herself at the wrong end of a copy of Kate Flora’s Agatha-nominated Death Dealer and meets her untimely end — went off without a hitch, and really was such a pleasure to pull together. Here’s a copy of the flyer I put together for the event, which every attendee who wished to try and solve the mystery received.
On the other side, there were blurbs providing the motive and opportunity of all seven suspects in the crime: Jeannette de Beauvoir, Kate Flora, Stephanie Gayle, Edith Maxwell, Maureen Milliken, Dale T. Phillips, and yours truly. From there, attendees could go to next door to the Railway Village town hall, where the authors were signing books, and ask the suspects questions like whether or not they were right or left handed, what kind of car they drove, etc. There were some VERY industrious amateur sleuths, particularly the younger folks, and it was great fun watching them interact with the authors and get to know one another while competing to solve the crime.
Boothbay Railway Village was phenomenal in its willingness to work with us in staging the crime scene, even allowing me to put painter’s tape on the old wood floors to serve as a chalk outline for Eunice’s body!
In addition to the body, there were evidence markers, evidence bags with things like the murder weapon, a stray earring found at the crime scene, a white rose beside the body, and more, for attendees to check out inside the chapel.
With all that said, now we get down to the nitty gritty. Who actually murdered Eunice K. Stoneheart?
Well… It turned out that the duplicitous Jeannette de Beauvoir, in line to receive a fortune as sole beneficiary in Stoneheart’s considerable life insurance policy, hired the wily Stephanie Gayle to murder poor Ms. Stoneheart. Gayle went to the Railway Village to do the deed, but Stoneheart heard Gayle enter the railway chapel… The two exchanged pleasantries, particularly surrounding the single white rose Gayle had brought with her — meant as a calling card to be left with the body. After the meeting, however, Gayle found she could not commit the crime, and she left the rose with a very-much-alive Stoneheart at approximately one a.m., at which point she drove her black BMW from the scene and returned to her hotel room.
MEANWHILE, the insidious Edith Maxwell had been working herself into a lather all evening after learning that Stoneheart was intent on suing Sisters in Crime New England because the chapter would not allow her donkey — the narrator of her cozy mystery series — to become an honorary member of the organization. Maxwell had already been named in other lawsuits filed by the hideous woman. What nerve! What a wretched waste of space! At last, after already leaving once at eleven p.m. to confront Stoneheart only to return at midnight a failure, Edith finally worked up the ire and the gall.
At just past 1 a.m., shortly after Stephanie Gayle left the premises, Edith returned to confront her nemesis. Stoneheart, utterly unrepentant, announced that she had no intention of rescinding her lawsuit against Sisters in Crime New England or anyone else, for that matter, and further called Edith some very uncharitable names. Edith, pushed to the brink, reacted by wrenching the book Stoneheart was reading at the time — Kate Flora‘s wonderful but weighty novel, Death Dealer — from Stoneheart’s hand, and delivering a single, calculated blow that killed the author instantly.
And that, my friends, is the story of Eunice K. Stoneheart’s unfortunate demise. The inimitable Dale T. Phillips continues to maintain that he never had any interaction whatsoever with Ms. Stoneheart, calling the woman delusional and assuring the public at large that the alleged romance between he and Stoneheart was complete fantasy on Stoneheart’s part. I’ll let you decide on that… Phillips really doesn’t seem that trustworthy to me. Maureen Milliken was at home with her dogs all night just as she had stated all along, though the author has not had any particularly charitable things to say about Stoneheart’s untimely death, and Kate Flora — despite those shifty eyes, and being the one who received the overwhelming majority of the votes from our amateur detectives — was indeed entertaining guests far from the crime scene for the entire evening.
As for the winners of the contest… Ellie Pendleton of Rockport, Maine, correctly solved the crime and was selected in the raffle to receive the $50 gift certificate from Sherman’s Books & Stationery. Elaine Athans of Boothbay Harbor likewise solved correctly, and won a huge gift basket of signed mysteries by Sisters in Crime New England authors.
And that brings to a close the mystery of Eunice K. Stoneheart. Books in Boothbay has already expressed interest in doing another murder mystery next summer, however, and I’m already hard at work thinking up scenarios and new ways to stump the investigators who come from near and far to enjoy the day. If you haven’t made the trek before, I hope you’ll be able to join us next summer for another murder at the Railway Village!
Jen Blood is author of the Erin Solomon mysteries, and the recently released 5-Day Fiction Guide to Creating Complex Characters. You can learn more about her and get your free copy of her book of short stories, In Between Days, at www.jenblood.com.