Murder Mystery Evening A Huge Success

When a body of a woman was found in Portsmouth Central Library, on the evening of 25 July 2008, I, and my fellow crime writer, June Hampson, from Gosport, (that's me on the right) were on hand to help solve the puzzle, but we were banned from doing so. Why? Because this was a murder mystery evening organised by Portsmouth library staff. And a hugely successful event it was too.

Over sixty people were asked to follow a trail of clues scattered around the three floors of the library to uncover the murderer, before being rewarded with a glass of Pimms.

‘The body in the library’ was written by librarian, Donna Tebb, herself a professional actress and member of Equity as well as being a librarian. She was assisted in the organisation by librarian, Annie Aust, plus other staff and volunteer readers who were roped in to give a hand and enact their parts in the play.

Annie Aust says that the moment the tickets went on sale the event was sold out and there is a waiting list for the next event. Judging by everyone’s enthusiasm I am not surprised. This was a huge success and I'm sure there will be a rush to buy tickets for the next event.

The library closed to the public at its normal Friday evening time of 5pm. Guests arrived at 6.30pm for a 7pm kick off. June and I were asked to give a two minute talk on the effective use of locality in writing crime. I had just finished my talk when a scream rang out and we ushered the audience from the conference room to the cafe area to discover the body of a woman lying on the floor. It transpired that she’d been hit over the head with a hefty tome of War and Peace.

Before June and I had given our talk we waited in the wings while the audience witnessed a row between Jackie Frost, the dead woman, and Elivra Morsel over an affair that Jackie was supposedly having. Jackie stormed out of the conference room and two late arrivals entered, Shirley Holmes, who had just published a best selling crime novel and Louise Laney, a local reporter, played by the effervescent Heather James who hosts a popular chat programme on local radio, Express FM, and also writes a column for the Portsmouth News. She interviewed June and myself before the event for her Saturday morning programme.

The audience then scattered over the library’s three floors following a trail of clues. They reconvened in the café on the third floor, and whilst their score sheets were check by library staff, they enjoyed a glass of Pimms on a very hot evening and talked to June and myself. I even sold a few signed copies of my novels.

It was great fun and highly enjoyable. I was also really pleased to see so many people across all age groups there. The library was buzzing with activity and enthusiasm with a real sense of community. This was an innovative and creative approach in engaging with the community and is to be applauded. A tremendous amount of work went into this on the part of the library staff, all unpaid. I think many in the Government undervalue their contribution to our communities and more resources should be devoted to our libraries development and upkeep. I am a huge fan of libraries because without them as a child I would never have discovered the joy of reading. So well done everyone at Portsmouth Library.

I presented a copy of my latest Inspector Horton Marine Mystery in hardback called, The Suffocating Sea, to the team leader of the winning team who called themselves, ‘Where are the biscuits?’ ( though they did get crisps and peanuts with their Pimms) Sunjai Arif. In Sunjai’s team were Liz Haigh and Alison Arif.
Can't wait for the next one.


Sue said…
I endorse everything Pauline says about the evening. I attended & it was excellent. The mystery was challenging emough to keep you interested but not too difficult that you gave up! It was a bonus to be able to meet & talk with Pauline & her colleague June & I bought books for my holiday reading in a week's time. Needless to say, I couldn't wait & will probably need to buy the next in the series by then. What a fab read!
Pauline Rowson said…
Hi Sue, So glad you enjoyed the evening. Enjoy the reading too and your holiday! Thanks for leaving the comment.Best wishes.

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