Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, September 01, 2006

It's a Mystery to Me (How I Get Myself Into These Things)

by Kerry Blair

I'd like to write a funny, touching, and/or informative blog, but all I can think about is murder.

The 3rd Annual Covenant Murder Mystery Dinner is five weeks from today. On that fateful Friday night, 225 detectives and 25 suspects will arrive at a posh wedding reception in downtown Salt Lake City. During the course of the evening, three suspects will kill, three victims will die, and the detectives will attempt to sort out the mess. (I mean, isn't that what murderers, victims, and detectives do, respectively? Who am I to deviate from a time-honored tradition?)

The "murder" in Murder Mystery is evident, but for it to be "mysterious" each of the two dozen characters must have motive, opportunity, and means to kill. I've spent about a million hours thus far trying to tie these characters together well enough to give them reason to suspect and despise one another. (Okay, a million hours is a gross exaggeration, but in the time I've spent plotting a two-hour crime-fest I could have written two novels, an epic ballad, sixteen essays, and ten or twelve haikus.) Yes, I am a plodding plotter generally, but there are also extenuating circumstances. The most extenuating is that these characters really are characters—in every sense of the word. Ripped (off) from the pages of recently-published Covenant fiction, they range from the merely oddball (K. L. Fogg's Imogene Vandergrift) to the simply bizarre (Heather Moore's Bashemath, the wife of Ishmael. You read that right, Ishamel. You know, Lehi's neighbor.) I'm not making this up. (I only wish I was.) Fully half the characters arrive via time machine. The Mad Hatter had a less eclectic group at his tea party.

All the characters are fun and unique (read: whacky), but my personal favorites include:

The Catacyclist from Rob's new thriller, The Counterfeit.
This guy has spent the last 14 years riding a bicycle around the catacombs beneath Paris. He's grimy, British, book-smart, and highly excitable. Terrific character, but how to account for his sudden appearance in Salt Lake City? Would you believe he's training for the next Tour de France? Don't worry, the other characters won't believe it either. The undercover FBI agent (played by Jennie Hansen) believes he's scoping out America's top secret missile silos. The Molly Mormon (played by Toni Brown) fears he wants to move into the Church's legendary vaults under the Wasatch Mountains. I can't wait to see what Jeff does with this role. Hope he can still ride a bike--up stairs.

Miss Eugenia from Betsy Brannon Green's famed Haggerty series.
Anyone who has read Betsy's books has fallen in love with Miss Eugenia. I'm no exception. Possibly I'm her biggest fan. No way could I cast aspersions on this lady's character, so rather than have her be a suspect, Miss Eugenia will buy a ticket to the dinner just like the rest of the guests. Unlike the rest of them, she won't take a seat. At least she won't sit in it very often. She'll be up offering sage advice to the bride and groom—and the wedding planner, the band, the caterers, the suspects, and perhaps even the corpses. Gotta love Miss Eugenia, especially when Betsy agrees to play the role herself!

Luciano from Michele Ashman Bell's newest Spy Kids, Rescue.
Luciano is a native Brazilian. Very native. He sports long black hair, paints his face, wears a grass skirt to formal functions, and hops around like a wild man. The groom met him when he and his companion tracted out his tree house deep in the rainforest; now Luciano is the best man at the wedding. Folks, this means Robison Wells finally gets to wear that grass skirt he’s been eyeing. (Other than the costume and make up, I assume he'll be acting pretty much like his normal self.)

Cord Dunes from Jeffrey Savage's new Shandra Covington novel, Dead on Arrival. (Released one month from TODAY, by the way!)
Anyone who saw Michele Bell's performance last year is breathless to see who she'll be this year. Well, you read it here first. Michele will play the pistol-packing, motorcycle-riding private investigator who is almost as pleased to be the maid of honor as she is proud to show off her colorful scars. I hear that Michele is haunting thrift stores even as we speak, trying on everything in black leather, and hunting for anything Harley.

I can see that I have a whole lot more favorites left than I have room to list them. You're just going to have to come to the dinner to meet Gilda Galveston (Jennie Hansen's Wild Card) and the rest of the cast of miscreants. I'd also love to introduce you to my daughter who will play Kerri McKee from Until the Dawn by Gale Sears. I’ve brought a family member every year now. My oldest son was the murderer at the debut function. Last year my husband helped run the show in the role of the Butler Didit. (I try not to question why Gary isn't coming back this year. He's very "busy," after all.)

I’m thrilled to have Hil this time around. It won't be long before we'll be planning her wedding reception and I’m hoping she'll like my ideas. I don't know if you've noticed, but LDS brides all seem to think alike. I can't count the number of gazebos I've passed this summer, but I havent been through even one twinkle-lighted graveyard on my way to the reception line. Hil's special night could be a bash that will have Chino Valley talking (read: gossiping) well into the next century. For sure we'll be better prepared to handle the intricate family dynamics that always arise at such affairs. If any of the characters in our family (and, believe me, we do have some characters in our family) get too far out of line, we'll get kindly Aunt Gilda to murder them with the cake knife.

Oh, wait! I may have just given something away that I shouldn't have . . .

There's more information about the dinner at and under News on my website


At 9/01/2006 12:26 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Oh my gosh! I clicked on the link and it went somewhere. The right where even. I have to go circle this date on my calendar!

At 9/01/2006 1:46 PM, Anonymous Melissa said...

Dead on Arrival actually comes out in October, not September. Sorry fans, you'll have to wait a few weeks to read this new treasure by Jeff.

At 9/01/2006 7:42 PM, Blogger Marsha Ward said...

Oh, how I wish I could come to the Mystery Dinner! However, I live far off, and can't make the time to travel that week. [sigh] Every year the description gets zanier, and I wish I lived closer.

[double sigh]


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