Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Tuesday Night Bloggers: Who Wants to Murder a Millionaire

Welcome to this week's mystery game show, "Who Wants to Murder a Millionaire," the show where you can literally get away with murder--I'm your host, Liz Borden. Let's meet our two teams. Team One comes to us from the railroad industry...they are Stranglers on the Train! Say hello to Moira (from Clothes in Books), Steve (from In Search of the Classic Mystery) and Brad (from Ah Sweet Mystery).

Could this be one of our guests at work?
Challenging the Stranglers we have Team Two who hail from the town of Le'bruce...and they are a Case for Three Defectives! Give a warm welcome to Kate (from Cross Examining Crime), Aidan (from Mysteries Ahoy!) and JJ (from The Invisible Event).

Can you see what's wrong here?

For those of you new to our show, let's review. The object of the game is to plan and execute the perfect murder by answering questions and earning points. The point schedule is as follows:

First Question (1 pt): Select your victim
Second Question (2 pt): Select your location
Third Question (4 pt): Select the perfect method
Fourth Question (8 pt): Devise the perfect alibi
Fifth Question (16 pt):  Gather any necessary supplies
Sixth Question (32 pt): Plan complete

Murder Committed

Seventh Question (64 pt): Discovery of the corpse
Eight Question (128 pt): Successfully negotiate questioning by police
Ninth Question (245 pt): Red herrings completely mystify investigators
Tenth Question (500 pt): Police baffled—case unsolved

Perfect Murder = 1000 pts (in case of a tie, there is a Decider/Bonus round)
Highest Score (if not a perfect murder) is the winner. You may not have completely fooled the police, but they couldn’t put together a case that would stand up in court.

Now, as has been pointed out by one of our contestants, it does seem to rate life a bit cheaply to only offer one point for the victim, but after all one must start somewhere. And the points must build.... {Why must they build? Well...that's the way the sponsors wanted it. To build suspense or something. I'm just the pretty face for the camera; I don't get to make those decisions.}

But, seriously (I don't think I could keep that up for the entire post), our little band of Tuesday Night Bloggers decided that we just hadn't had enough of mystery quizzes. I want to thank Brad and Kate for brainstorming clever ideas to keep us busy while doing our part for social distancing. Kate's quiz last week (check out her blog link above if you missed it) inspired me to think up the title for this week's mystery game show and again we played through email. The rules were similar to Kate's--except I am much less industrious and composed only ten questions that each team answered separately. The team members took turns being in the "hot seat" and playing for full points. If that player missed the question, then their teammates had the chance to save that part of the murder plan and earn half credit.

For the questions, I tried very hard to tailor the questions to the particular murder plan step (a question about victims for question one and so on). And, just as on the TV show, the teams had access to four lifelines:

Team Lifelines: one each per team
50:50: Two incorrect answers are eliminated
Double Dip: Allows for a second guess for full credit if first answer is wrong. Contestant must request to use this lifeline before making the initial guess. The lifeline is forfeited even if the first guess is correct.
Phone A Friend: Current contestant may consult one of their team members. Full credit is given if the answer is correct. If the answer is incorrect, then only the remaining team member may have a try for half credit.
Know Your Enemy: This one is a bit of a gamble. If you think one of your opponents has expert knowledge, then you may call on them to give you an answer for full credit. They are on their honor to provide their best answer. BUT if the answer is correct their team will automatically receive full credit as well regardless of whether that contestant was on deck for the question. If the answer is incorrect and that contestant was on deck for the question for their team, they will select one of their remaining teammates to field the question for a chance at full credit (no conferrals); the third player will play for half credit. If they were not on deck, then their team plays following the usual rules with your chosen “enemy” offering a second guess for half credit. You will also be allowed a second guess for half.

And now for a wrap-up on the final round:

After a quick check of the math, the Stranglers decided to put Brad in the hot seat with a host of lifelines at his fingertips. Once he saw the question, he picked up the phone (er...keyboard) and brought Moira into the fray--whereupon they decided upon their choice for full points (they were correct). Kate took the heat for the Defectives and requested the "Double Dip" lifeline before offering up her perfectly correct first answer.

After the dust settled (and my Excel spreadsheet did its math thing), we found that the Defectives,while not quite managing a perfect murder (if only that curare bottle hadn't gone missing during the supplies round), pulled off a near-perfect quiz and a score of 992.

The Stranglers put together a really devious plot--scoring 903 over all but not quite devious enough to completely baffle the investigators.

So...Congratulations to this week's winners: Case for Three Defectives--Kate, JJ, and Aidan. And I want to thank each of my Tuesday Night Blogging pals for indulging me in my convoluted quiz game. I had a lot of fun putting it together.

If you would like a chance to build your own perfect murder, then give the quiz a try. I've listed the questions below. For the purposes of this game, all "Golden Age" books follow my Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge guidelines and are published 1960 or earlier. Answers appear in the apparent blank space between questions--just highlight to reveal the answer.

Round #1 Victims in Sayers
All of the following are murder victims in a Dorothy L. Sayers novel except one? Which one?
  1. Reuben Levy
  2. Denis Cathcart
  3. George Harrison
  4. Henry Thorpe

Answer: Henry Thorpe died a natural death in The Nine Tailors

Round #2 Death on Deck: Murder on the Water
One of the following mysteries set on a ship or boat, features murders on the yacht of a millionaire. Which one?
  1. The Virgin Kills (1932) by Raoul Whitfield
  2. Found Floating (1937) by Freeman Wills Crofts
  3. Charlie Chan Carries On (1930) by Earl Derr Biggers
  4. Murder by Latitude (1930) by Rufus King

Answer: The Virgin Kills by Whitfield

Round #3 Slow Poison: Poison in the 1930s and 40s
Three of these novels contain a significant death by poison. Which is the odd book out?
  1. Death at the Bar  (1940) by Ngaio Marsh
  2. And Be a Villain (1948) by Rex Stout
  3. Death in the Backseat (1936) by Dorothy Cameron Disney
  4. Murdered One by One (1937) by Francis Beeding

Answer: Death in the Backseat by Disney (primary victim was shot)

Round #4 Agatha's Alibis
In many cases of "identity theft" in a murder mystery, a culprit impersonates someone else to establish an alibi--for instance, wearing the victim's clothes to make it appear this person was alive after the fact. In at least one of Christie's novels a corpse is not quite what it appears to be (thus making it seem impossible for the villain to have committed this particular crime at the time indicated). Choose the title which is the best example.
  1. The 4:50 from Paddington
  2. Lord Edgeware Dies/Thirteen at Dinner
  3. The Body in the Library
  4. The Boomerang Clue/Why Didn't They Ask Evans?

Answer: The Body in the Library (which was actually Pamela, a girl guide, and not Ruby as initially thought)

Round #5 Sinister Supplies: The Equipment of John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson
Each of the following items is important to particular Carr/Dickson novels, but I have mismatched on of the items and titles. Which match is incorrect?
1. The Problem of the Green Capsule/The Black Spectacles

2. Panic in Box C
3. Death-Watch
4. Till Death Do Us Part

Answer: Till Death Do Us Part (the ace of spades is actually important to The Red Widow Murders)

Round #6 Plans, Designs & Maps: Mapback plans of the murder scene.
Below are four Dell Mapback versions of murder scenes. Please choose the scene that is correctly identified.
1. The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart
2. N or M? by Agatha Christie

3. Duplicate Death by Georgette Heyer
4. Staircase 4 by Helen Reilly

Answer: N or M? by Agatha Christie

Round #7 Victims in Edmund Crispin (1940s-50s)
Out of the four professions listed below, please identify the one that did not fall victim to murder in an Edmund Crispin novel.
  1. Postman
  2. Policeman
  3. Opera Singer
  4. Film cameraman

Answer: #1 Postman

Round #8 Police Detectives from the 1940s
Which of these detectives began their career in 1942 (in this context "began" means the first published novel focused on their investigations)?
  1. Captain M. L. Hemirich (series by Frances & Richard Lockridge
  2. Inspector Thomas Littlejohn (series by George Bellairs)
  3. Chief Inspector Julian Rivers (series by Carol Carnac)
  4. Inspector Roger West (series by John Creasey)

Answer: Inspector West

Round #9 Red Herrings & Clues in the Golden Age
The following clues all appear in mystery stories, but I have inserted one red herring. One of the clues does not belong to the book it is ascribed to here. Which one?
Books arranged on a desk in The French Powder Mystery by Ellery Queen
A discarded peach pit in Red Threads by Rex Stout
A missing tube of paint in Artists in Crime by Ngaio Marsh
Missing pearls in The Case of Colonel Marchand by E. C. R. Lorac

Answer: A missing tube of paint--even though Marsh's book is about artists.

Round #10
I have grouped several GAD novels under various subgenre headings. Those of you who have participated in my Vintage Mystery Reading Challenges over the years will recognize some of these subgenres. Only one grouping is absolutely correct with ALL four correct titles. Please identify the correct group For the purposes of this quiz in order to qualify for the subgenre, the element must be a major factor in the mystery itself. For instance, Death at the President's Lodging by Michael Innes (with its college setting and college president as victim) would qualify, but a story that has an academic who isn't a victim, major suspect/culprit, or amateur detective as a guest at a country house weekend murder fest would not

  1. Academic Mysteries: The Mourning After Death by Nicholas Blake; Death at Half-Term by Josephine Bell; Bats in the Belfry by E. C. R. Lorac; The Case Is Closed by Patricia Wentworth
  2. Medical Mysteries: Shadow on the Wall by H. C. Bailey; Miss Pinkerton by Mary Roberts Rinehart; A Silent Witness by R. Austin Freeman; Tragedy at the Unicorn by John Rhodes
  3. All Aboard! Train Mysteries: Night Train to Paris by Manning Coles; The Two Tickets Puzzle by J. J. Connington; Dread Journey by Dorothy B. Hughes; Death Treads Softly by George Bellairs
  4. Country House Murders: The Santa Klaus Murders by Mavis Doriel Hay; The Hanging Captain by Henry Wade; The House of Sudden Sleep by John Hawk; The Z Murders by J. Jefferson Farjeon

Answer: Medical Mysteries

So, how did you do? Did you plan a perfect murder? Did you gather more points than our two murderous teams and escape justice anyway?


Kate said...

Thanks for putting this quiz together! (And for getting it posted so quickly!)
I surprised myself and did better than I thought I would.
I like the bonus team pictures we got at the beginning. The Stranglers look like some tough customers in their one lol

Bev Hankins said...

Yes, the Stranglers are quite a lethal bunch...I'm still afraid that Brad might have me on the hit list since he didn't get to field that one Christie question. I'll just have to make sure I stay off trains. lol