Writing ‘Death at Dodge City’ by Michelle Crowther

I became interested in the Wild West when I was doing research into gold rushes. I thought Dodge City, synonymous with gun-slinging and lawlessness, would be the perfect setting for a murder mystery. I found myself particularly attracted to the stories surrounding Wyatt Earp, Doc Halliday and Wild Bill Hickok, and these critters, thinly disguised, feature heavily in the plot.

Getting a feel for the era is really important to me so I began to read around the subject. Children’s history books are excellent for giving an historical overview and for picking out the most exciting parts of history. I also watched copious Saturday afternoon Westerns and began to go about my daily business using a faux-American accent.

Writing scripts that zing and fizz is vital.  You need more than the odd ‘howdy’ or ‘dang’ to make a cowboy murder mystery come alive. A genealogy website provided me with some excellent Wild West phrases:

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~poindexterfamily/OldWestSlang.html

In 2014, the Poplar Grove Vintage Wings and Wheels Museum in Illinois performed ‘Death at Dodge City’. That was a proud moment for me. Something that had started as a dinner party for eight close friends in my kitchen, had turned into an event for 120 people with a recreated gaol, saloon, crime scene, actors and a real stage coach.  To discover that I had sold a Wild West game to the Americans – I nearly bust my boots!

You can find “Death at Dodge City” by Michelle Crowther on our website as a small group dinner party game for 6-20 players, and as a large group script for large group entertaining.

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Flexible and fun!

We contacted Red-Herring-Games for a party for a special occasion. Why going to restaurants to eat is the preferred activity to mark milestones is beyond me and my friends.   The choice of mystery was obvious, looking at the options from New Zealand on the web Red Herring stuck out from the international options.  A quick look at the site and games showed subtlety as well a range of choices.  The numbers you could have for each evening was important,  Red Herring had scaling options a good range of scenarios but most importantly were Jo and team being flexible, responsive and helpful.

Rachel McWilliam, Arts Development Officer, Lincs Inspire

Thank you Red Herring Games for the marvellous 'Murder!  Cargo Connections?' event that you organised for us as part of Museums at Night at the Fishing Heritage Centre in Grimsby. The whole evening went so well and was brilliant fun.  I know from all the feedback that our visitors had a fantastic time. It was really good working with you and I have no doubt that we will do again in the not too distant future.  

A. Nonymous (council employee)

I would like to thank you and your colleague for helping contribute towards our successful conference last month.  Everyone really seemed to enjoy the evening and it was rewarding that so many delegates were able to participate in addition to the main "Actors".  Our conference evaluation froms included the following comments:
  • "Enjoyed the evening entertainment!"
  • The evening entertainment was great and the confusion made it great fun!"
With thanks and best wishes.

Sarah Spencer (Cleethorpes Chronicle)

I had no idea what to expect before purchasing a ticket for Old, New, Borrowed, Blue, which was being staged at a nearby hotel, and feared it might involve taking part in some way. However thankfully for me no acting was necessary, just some amateur sleuthing. "Wedding guests" of which I was one, were called upon to move from room to room in the hotel in groups, questioning a number of possible murderers with the aim of solving the mystery of the dead bridegroom. The interviewees were really fun characters and gave us all some good laughs. Of course they all had motives and it was a case of identifying the shiftiest. The wedding theme was particularly good, as it fitted well with the venue, the buffet that was part of the evening (with a wedding cake in the middle) and the fact that everyone had been able to dress up to fit in without going to the trouble of fancy dress. I didn't think I had enough "evidence" to actually accuse anyone but later regretted not even writing down my first guess as it wouldn't have been too far off the mark. The evening was great fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it and take part. I would definitely recommend Old, New, Borrowed, Blue as good for getting even reluctant or first-time mystery party-goers involved.  

Alan Young (Personal Touch Mortgages)

What a cracking nights entertainment! We don't get out much nowadays with 2 kids and this was exactly what we were looking for in a good night out. Lots of fun with tongue firmly in cheek and everyone kept guessing whodunnit right to the very end. Would definitely attend another!!!!!  

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