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February 24, 2014

Points East: Discovering whodunit

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Saturday afternoons and evenings are usually down time for Loretta and me.  We simply don’t get out much anymore after we’ve used up the movie gift certificates the kids gave us for Christmas, which 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,” entitled “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 — an affliction that began in fourth grade with Nancy Drew, 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 ‘60s 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 simalily 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 custody of the local police.  

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
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