Murder She Did Not Write

According to my Goodreads account, I have read seven of Agatha Christie’s works.  One of them I would read again.  (I keep trying, but none of them are as gripping as And Then There Were None.)  However, there should still be a purpose to all my research.  How could all this knowledge benefit society?  Hence, this helpful guide.

How to Ensure That Your Next Society Gathering Does Not Turn Into an Agatha Christie Murderfest

The Location

-No traveling around in transports that can get stuck in the middle of nowhere without rescue.  No yachting down the Riviera.  No trains through Asia.  No camel rides through the Sahara.  No.  You need a building.  One with roads that lead to it. 

-No islands.  No Robinson Crusoe.  No Cast Away.  No.

-No skiing lodges, chalets, or secluded cabins in the woods.

-No cliff-side manors with breathtaking views.  Too steep to be safe.

-We should not have to say this, but in the interest of being thorough, make sure there are no volcanoes nearby.  We would not want lava to wipe out your escape route.  What?  We are being thorough!

-All homes must be accessible by multiple roads.  If there is only one road, and that road is prone to being washed out by floods?  Subject to avalanches?  Prone to rockslides?  Politely decline and stay home.

-All walls must be made of see-through material.  Plexi-glass.  Bulletproof glass.  Storm glass.  Hurricane glass.  Your call.  But there will be no lurking.  No conversations that you hear through a door, but cannot see.  It works for the Chihuly Glass Garden.  It works for the Louvre Pyramid. Pretend you are artsy. (Please avoid any sharp glass. At all costs.)

-Every effort should be made to ensure that as many rooms and pieces of furniture are bulletproof and fireproof.  Expensive, sure.  But oh-so worth the effort. 

-No ancient castles.  No buildings where the blueprints, “are here somewhere I imagine”.  That will not suffice.  We want to see the original drawings.  No Laird’s Lugs.  No crypts.  Single-story buildings with no attics or basements are greatly preferred.

-Whatever the location, there needs to be fully-functional, recently serviced generators on site.  Multiples of them.  With plenty of gasoline or batteries or solar power or the reliable power source of your choice to keep them running all weekend and then some. 

-No exotic plants are allowed as part of the landscape. 

-Carbon monoxide detectors are required.  Also, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and flashlights.  (Lots of flashlights.  Lots of batteries.)

The Guest List

-No retired soldiers or hunters.  If they like to use the phrase, “back in The War” or “when we were poaching”, you should not be sharing enclosed spaces with them. 

-No seemingly innocent, just-legal ingénues.  Dickens, Christie; they are full of elderly gentlemen falling for and “taking care of” these women.  Not at this party.  Especially not if the women are, “in such a desperate state” and “do not know what ever shall I do”.  Entanglements with these types is only courting disaster.  Decline.

-No mystery writers or society columnists.  Forced groups get bored.  Boredom breeds gossip.  And even if the gossip does not end with you in the morgue, do you really want to be on Page Six for that reason?  No nosey Nellies.  It sounds obvious, but these folks horn themselves into too many books.  “You know, if I was to create the perfect murder…”  Why would you hand that kind of person the carving knife?  No.

-No easily-blackmailable-types.  Got kicked out of a country?  Cannot have you here.  Had a torrid affair?  Stay away from my sister and wife.  Robbed a bank?  “Look, I am too young and this watch that my grandfather gave to me was probably a cheap knock-off.  Take it and go.”

-Not to go full McCarthyism, but all are guilty by association.  If any friends or relatives or neighbors or paperboys were accused or suspected of being a spy, none of you can come.  Certainly not if their espionage background taught them how to take up another person’s life.  Make-up artists are also not allowed.  If you are skilled at deception?  If you can step into another identity?  Take it elsewhere.  It is essential that everyone is who they say they are.  “Oh, Uncle Sven?  Is that you!  I have not seen you for decades.  Mumsie said you had passed!”  Do not be fooled by a “long lost-“ anyone.

-No actors. Certainly not talented or attractive ones. For so many reasons…

-No butlers, maids, or waitstaff. Their loyalties can be bought.

-No former business associates.  You say, “just business”, we say, “deal gone awry is motive”.

-No Don Juans.  In case this was not covered by the last few rules?  Keep it in your tuxedo pants.  Or riding pants.  Or polo pants.  Zip it up or we all get murdered.  Deal?

-No joint-poppers.  The constant knuckle cracking?  How wonky is your neck that you have to realign it before finishing your sentence?  They either need to see a doctor, or, need to stop making strangling gestures in polite company.  Nuh uh.

-No blacksmiths, metallurgists, or do-it-yourself enthusiasts.  If they have ever uttered the phrase, “You should see what I made out of nothing!” then keep them away.  No Tony Starks.  No Professor from Gilligan’s Island.  No Rube Goldberg wannabees.  Who knows what they might devise with their devices?

-No divorces.  Just because you do not want to murder your ex, does not mean that they feel the same.

-No one with morbid hobbies.  If they know the history of poison throughout the ages, let them brush up at home.  They have an interest in medieval torture chambers?  You do not need to have an interest in their company.  If they can quote mortality statistics for any group of people, or if they have any sort of taxidermy equipment at home, they are not the type of party people you want.

-All pets are to wear padded boots and mittens over their paws.  There will be caps over bird (and octopus) beaks.  Muzzles required.  No snakes.  No spider-related creatures.  Honestly, no exotic creatures from Australia.  Nothing with pinchers or stingers, no matter how much of a delicacy they are.

-No stodgy Brits that have a long-gestated murder urge that they have suppressed.

-No brash young Americans who are visiting across The Pond in pursuit of a woman, a story to tell, or making their mark in the world.

-People from Canada and Switzerland should be fine.  Polite people with no armed forces background.  That is who we are looking for.

Rules of Behaviour

-All attendees must have their will on display, complete with notarizations. 

-Credit checks are mandatory.  Just went bankrupt?  Stay home and think about how you got there.  Your last three wives died “mysteriously”?  Yeah, no.  Your great-grandfather promised to bequeath his enormous fortune to you?  Neat.  Show us a signed note from his attorney. 

-All food is to be prepared off site by a third party (that no one has six degrees of separation to).  The food should be sent in sealed containers.  Bring in taste-testers if you can afford them.

-If, at any point, a dead body is discovered, a minimum of three people must inspect the supposed corpse.  One of them should, ideally, be a medical professional.  The first person to verify that professional’s assessment should have no prior history with said professional.  No colluding!  Every attender is encouraged to inspect the supposed corpse for themselves.  Locking it in a closet is not a terrible idea.  (Yes, technically you will have “tampered with evidence”.  But, you may have saved your life.  Safety first.)

-No less than three people are allowed in a room.  Nobody goes solo.  No lovers get to sneak off.  (Besides, in horror movies, people that have sex die quickly.  So we are cross-training.)  Three people.  Minimum.

-All guests are to be low-jacked and kept within eyesight at all times.  No groups of people exploring the abandoned hedge maze at moonlight.  No jaunts down to the river to see how fast the water is flowing.  We want to know where you are.  Big Brother has an invitation to the shindig.

-Those with allergies are responsible for having medication on their personages at all times.  It is highly desirable that all attendees build up a tolerance for a wide range of poisons.  Especially strychnine, for some reason.

-No chloroform.  No ether.  We should not even have to spell this out.  Stay awake, stay alive.

-No guns.  No knives.  No bows and arrows.  No crossbows.  No ceremonial swords, no matter how many generations they have been in the family.  (See, “No retired soldiers or hunters.”)  No cudgels.  No maces.  No switchblades.  Nyet.

-No canes.  No walking sticks.  It does not matter how decorative or hand-crafted they are.  They can still conceal blades or triggering devices.

-No axes.  No chainsaws or hand saws.  Do us a favor and keep the tool shed off site.

-No pipes, cigarettes, or other nicotine delivery systems.  Will the murderer use them?  Probably not.  But secondhand smoke is still gross.

-No perfumes or colognes.  Chemical-free is the way to be if you value safety.

-No gambling.  It does not matter if it is “for fun”, for money, or for honor.  Not allowed.

-No dueling.  It is a synonym for premeditated murder. Leave your besmirched honor at home.

-No Twister.  “Right hand blue?  Okay, let me just wrap my arm around your neck to reach over there…”  “Left foot green?  Oh, did I stab you?  My apologies.  Though, with all these limbs, you cannot prove it, can you?”

-No chess matches.  No Uno, solely due to the “Draw” cards.  Stratego and Risk are also forbidden.  Scrabble or Checkers are fine.  Though, Scrabble could be used to transmit secret messages…  Checkers.  Checkers is all you get.

-No exchanges of jewelry, treasured mementos, heirlooms, or any other gift that might cause jealously or be overly wrapped up in emotional attachments.

Got all that? Great! You are all set for a weekend of fun! Only, make sure that you stock up on conversation topics. You do not want to be the one responsible for killing the mood.

See you when you get back! Well… some of you. Buh-bye!

About Cosand

He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.
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