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A quiet community, set apart from the hurly-burly of city life.

A tragic murder.

And as the mystery unfolds, there's whiskey!

Is this the latest tale by Anne Cleeves, the author of the Shetland mysteries?

Well, I'm glad you asked me that, Inspector. Because the answer is yes and no.

The place is Bovey Tracey, a small town in Dartmoor. The tale is written by Anne Cleeves but presented as a dramatic series of speeches from the local amateur dramatic society, The Bovey Tracey Players. The event was organised by the bold volunteers who run the Bovey Library. Sadly, government cuts have decimated the number of small libraries around the UK, but thanks to these hard-working volunteers, the library in Bovey Tracey remains open. Events like this really bring a community of book-lovers together, and we were lucky to squeeze in at the last moment because the event had sold out.

And where better to host a Shetland-themed evening than in a whiskey distillery?

Yes, that's a real still in the background, and it made some odd clicks and clunks during the evening. This building used to be the town hall, and it was quite run-down, presumably due to more cuts. But now I guess that the building has been sold, because it holds a pleasant bar room, where you can sit and sip a drink while you admire the gleaming copper pipes and vessels. I'm told the whiskey isn't ready yet, as it needs to be aged for years, and the still is quite new. But they plan to start producing gin in the basement soon, and unlike whiskey, gin is good to go pretty much as soon as you can get it into the bottle.

Getting back to the mystery evening, I must report that we all had a great time. We were asked to form teams and given paper and pens to write notes, then during the interval, we recorded our verdict. In the style of the classic golden age mysteries, there were so many clues and hints that our minds spun as we tried to separate the red herrings from the damning evidence.

What was the motive? Jealousy? Greed? Revenge?

Had someone poisoned a cat? Was there an illicit love affair? And why did people keep banging on about knitting patterns?

I won't give the game away in case you want to host a version of this event yourself. and why not?

You can download a pack with everything you need from the publisher:

I thoroughly recommend it. We had a hoot, especially after the interval when one of the hosts read out the ideas we'd all put forward. There were some hilarious ideas, and one lucky team got the answer almost spot-on. I'd guessed some of it, but I had the murderer wrong, so that's me finished as a detective. I relied far too much on guesswork, so I'd be drummed off the force in disgrace.

Hopefully, I'll fare better at crafting my own mysteries. It's so much easier when you know the clues in advance and you can keep them to yourself. If you haven't tried one of my mysteries, you can find A Study in Stone here.

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