The Richmond Register

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February 20, 2014

Even Scrooge would enjoy library mystery

RICHMOND — Saturday afternoons and evenings are usually down time for Loretta and me.

We simply don’t get out much after we’ve used up the movie gift certificates the kids gave us for Christmas. That means we mostly go to the movies to avoid guilt trips because our kids do work hard for their money.

But last Saturday, after half a dozen reminders, we decided to attend a “Valentine murder mystery” titled “Dying for Love” at the Garrard County Public Library. It turned out to be the most fun and best entertainment I’ve had since Little League baseball season ended last summer.

As most regular readers of Points East already know, I am a huge fan of libraries in general and mystery fiction in particular. This affliction began for me in fourth grade with Nancy Drew and then The Hardy Boys and evolved into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jane Austen, until finally I couldn’t resist anything printed in the mystery genre.

It really would require the rest of the space allotted me in this column to list the authors who have entertained me over the decades and who continue to dominate my reading habit to this day. I fit my good friend and retired librarian Linda Caldwell’s accusation of being a “mystery snob.”

While in college and later as a young adult, I used to enjoy weekend-long murder mystery-solving outings that were staged at state parks and other venues. Guests spent Friday evenings through Sunday mornings attempting to solve staged murders by figuring out whodunit. For over a decade in the late 1960s and into the late ’70s, these outings were very popular and very competitive.

Last Saturday’s program at our library was a condensed version of one of these more complicated events. But like one of them, it similarly involved the presentation of a fictional murder, complete with murder scene, corpse, weapon, several suspects and numerous clues scattered throughout the library.

We were told that a play had been scheduled for us, but had to be called off because the star of the show had been murdered and all the supporting cast and stage hands were currently in the custody of local police.

The audience was tasked with locating and deciphering the clues and ultimately determining who committed the murder.

We were supposed to form and work as investigative teams. Lo and I were team “Sherlock ain’t Home.” But we rather quickly disbanded when Loretta asked one of the librarians, “What do you do when you can’t come to agreement with the rest of your your team?”

She was told that she could go out on her own, and she promptly did just that which left yours truly working in a very familiar vacuum.

Someone asked if this was how we got along at home, and we harmonized when we both said, “Yes!” It is a system that has survived and served us pretty well for nearly 40 years.

As you might guess, all the murder suspects were avid readers and we were provided with a list of their individually-favorite books. Needless to say the titles ran us all over and into every section of the library in search of books that might contain a clue.

We also were given access to the actors’ dressing rooms where we found a variety of clues that would provide ample motive for either one of them or someone else closely associated with the play to want to kill off Austin Jane, who would have been the star of the show.

The prime suspects included the cleverly-named leading lady, Holly Wood, supporting actor Hugh Mann, director/producer Bea Goode, stage manager Justin Thyme and volunteer usher Anita Mann. As the suspects’ names implied, we participants were to have fun and not take ourselves too seriously.

As far as I’m concerned, the event succeeded in spades. I certainly know a lot more about my library now than I did last Saturday morning, and if that were possible, I probably appreciate it more. I’ve already told you that I had more fun than I might have had if I’d shelled out $100 for entertainment.

If asked what reasons I like most about living in Paint Lick, I would list among the top five, the fact that I can be in one of three wonderful public libraries in less than fifteen minutes when I find myself bored.

Fewer than 20 Garrard Countians were at last Saturday’s event, and that’s a pity because the worst Scrooge in the county would have enjoyed it. 

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