Where would Britain be without arguably its favourite story format – the murder mystery? Gone would be the enigma Sherlock Holmes and his faithful sidekick Watson. Agatha Christie’s famous characters, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, would never have graced the pages of tens of millions of books, and the various TV series and movies portraying clever detectives and their mind-boggling skills that always unearth the killer.
But it’s not just in books, novellas and screens. The murder mystery found itself in game format sixty years ago when a musician from Birmingham named Anthony E. Pratt was inspired and worked to create “Cluedo”, the atypical whodunnit board game. Iconic characters like Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlett and Professor Plum now rank among the greatest villains in history, having taken part in millions of murders re-enacted in family homes over previous decades.
To celebrate the board game’s 60th anniversary, Barry Forshaw from the Crime Writer’s Association recounts the evolution of the murder mystery and gives some great tips on how to write your own.
Hasbro have recently released a new version called Cluedo, Discover the Secrets. There are few new rules and some of the characters’ names have changed.
For instance, Colonel Mustard has become Jack Mustard, “once the most sought after celebrity football player . . . now a sports pundit”.
Professor Plum is Victor Plum “a self-made video-game design billionaire that (sic) moved out of the dingy basement into a life of luxury”.
The lead pipe has become a baseball bat, the revolver is a pistol and a dumb-bell, trophy axe and poison have been added to the murder weapons. The basically bland appearance of the board of the original game is now lavishly illustrated but purists may be put out that the action no longer takes place in an Inspector Poirot-era mansion but a home straight out of Footballers’ Wives. Gone are the ballroom, the library, the billiard room and the conservatory. In come a theatre, spa, guesthouse and observatory.
For more information visit www.hasbro.co.uk