OREM — What's worse than trying to find a needle in a haystack? Trying to find a murderer in a room of 175 people where practically everyone has a gun and a motive.
That's exactly what it was like Friday night when Covenant Communications brought nine of its LDS fiction writers together for a rather unique and chaotic promotion event at the Orem Senior Friendship Center. The good news is the group found the culprit who killed Robison Wells, Esquire. The bad news is too many people were looking for him.
While the evening was generally fun — meeting and mingling was OK — the game itself needs some major improvements before the next murder scheduled for the first weekend in April (to coincide with LDS General Conference).
In chatting with some of the notorious guests, these comments were offered:
"They didn't let us know we would be going to a party at an estate so we could have dressed appropriately," said Judy Noziska (a k a Misty Waters). The rub was that some folks knew ahead of time all about their characters. Most did not. The acting prizes went to the folks who knew, though some would-be-actors really tried hard with their wardrobe handicap.
"When tickets were sold, sales clerks (at Seagull Book & Tape) should have asked if tickets were for male or female so they could assign or give parts or mail parts to those who bought tickets. I bought my tickets 10 days before the event and still no one could tell me what was going on," added Jo Jaimeson (a.k.a. Melanie Smith).
Even more annoying were planners who didn't plan for success. They ran out of food and had to assign several people the same character. While having duplicate assignments eliminated the characters as the murderer, it automatically told paying players "enjoy the moment, but you're not important." Both my husband and I had duplicated names — mine was Eleanor Fidget and my husband was LeRoy Provost. We actually ended up with two Mr. Provosts at our table of eight.
While the idea was a good one, I suggest Covenant limit the number of guests, even if they have to repeat the event on more than one night. Organizers should make sure to give all participants adequate information ahead of time. They should also hold firm on registration deadlines and order enough food. After all, $17 is a lot when you get a roll, butter, drink and a murder.
I suppose the highlight of the evening was when they announced the winners and Deseret Morning News Utah County Bureau Chief Tad Walch, (we were double-dating with our spouses) won the Super Sleuth award. It validated his investigative reporter facade and made it worth the while. By the way the killer — Peter Jenkins — there was only one of him.