Murphy House takes a stab at murder mystery weekends

POULSBO — Watch out for Colonel Mustard in the library with the candle stick or Miss Scarlet in the kitchen with the knife during upcoming weekends at the Murphy House this winter.

Beginning Jan. 23-24, the Poulsbo bed and breakfast will be hosting five murder mystery weekends where the guests become the players in a whodunit drama.

Mother and daughter team Jeanette and Erin Mathisrud have run the 10-year-old Murphy House since 2002. They said they came up with the idea for a murder mystery weekend as a way to entice guests to book a room during the slow winter months. Such weekends are popular on the East Coast and in England and Ireland where winter activities are usually indoors by necessity.

“But other than the mystery train, the closest bed and breakfast that does this is in Sacramento, Calif. and the next closest, I think, was in Ohio,” Erin commented. “Even in the Northwest, when the winters are raining and terrible, this gives you something for an entertaining weekend and you get to participate.”

So far, the idea is catching on and spots are already beginning to fill up, though weekends span into mid March. Last month, the Murphy House gave away a free spot in one of the weekend events on Seattle’s The Mountain radio station. Right after, their web site received 2,000 hits in 24 hours, when it usually receives 200-300 in the same period.

“From the number of people who have shown interest, we think it’s going to be popular,” Jeanette said.

Each of the five weekends will have a unique time period, setting and scenario that only those reserving rooms will find out. The games are written by professionals who regularly sell murder mystery weekends to other bed and breakfasts.

“It’s solvable. They know it works,” Erin explained.

Two weeks ahead of time, guests will be sent a profile of their character including their agenda, what secrets they know and what goals they have.

“Then they have to talk to the other guests to find out who did it,” Erin explained. “The only person who knows the murderer is the host. So someone could be the murderer and not even know it. But they’d better hope they figure it out first.”

The packet will also include a list of affordable costume ideas and the weekend’s menu so guests can alert the owners to any dietary needs.

The all-inclusive weekend includes two nights’ accommodations, three meals and two receptions. The mystery begins Friday night at a dessert reception, which is also where one of the guests becomes a murder victim.

“But the person who’s killed gets to come back and be a detective. They’re not excluded from the game,” Jeanette explained.

Throughout the course of the weekend, the characters have the chance to interact with one another and try to put the pieces of the puzzle together. But the B&B that prides itself on a relaxing environment has also built in time for guests to get out into the town or hang around the cozy common areas.

“They’re on their own during the course of the day, they can go downtown, murder someone else, whatever they want to do,” Jeanette joked.

Each weekend ends Sunday morning with a champagne awards brunch, where the murderer is revealed and guests can see how well their sleuthing went. The brunch will also include mementos of the weekend.

“We’ll give out prizes for the best actor and actress, costumes and detectives,” Erin said.

“And probably for the person who had the least clue,” Jeanette added with a chuckle.

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