One of the greatest challenges of a murder mystery dinner is trying to detect the obvious whilst picking up on essential clues. Some people make brilliant amateur detectives, others fall at the first red herring and haven’t got any idea who has committed the crime. You need a specific set of skills to be effective as a detective.  It’d be criminal not to mention them in this blog.  

To solve a crime you will require…

An active mind

Would you take everything at face value if you attended a murder mystery dinner? If so this could be a huge mistake. Actors are given specific parts prior to a murder mystery evening. Some will tell you the truth and others will lie to your face, your mind should remain nimble if you want to unearth the facts. Master detectives have very active minds. Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot had the ability to see beyond the facts. In their mind they would reason other factors into the investigation such as people’s behaviour and motivations to get to the truth.

Strong interview skills

Good detectives ask lots of questions. Not only that, they will continue to ask the same questions over and over again to different characters. Therefore you need to brush up on your interview skills if you really want to put suspects under pressure. Use the 5 w’s of what, why, when, where and who and ask multiple questions to interview suspects, the guilty ones will trip up at some point.

Good note taking abilities

Write down everything people tell you when you interview suspects. In particular take notes of key times, important details and specific reference points the actors reveal as the evening unfolds.  Detectives always have a pen and pad handy ready to jot down notes. Fail to do this and you could miss something vital.


Watch an episode of Columbo if you get the chance. He’s a scruffy detective from a popular TV whodunit show and his character is renowned for his dogged determination. This crime fighting detective used to wear suspects down by persistent questioning. Just as they thought they’d managed to deflect attention the unfaltering Columbo would pull the rug from under their feet and floor them with his gritty approach to questioning. He was a pain. He’d chip away at suspects to gradually undermine their confidence. Be persistent as a detective, there’s a crime to be solved and it pays to be unrelenting.

A sense of distrust  

People lie at murder mysteries so don’t take anything for granted. Have a natural distrust for anything people tell you but try to go with your gut feeling at the same time. Good detectives are naturally mistrusting but they can usually sense when people are telling them lies. Just question people and listen to what they have to say, do they seem trustworthy or is it obvious they have something to hide?

Put these skills to the test at the next murder mystery you attend and see if they improve your powers of deduction!

Filed under: Murder and Intrigue

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