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Reliving an epic mystery case

Narendra Marik/Neena Biswas |

‘The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances”— Agatha Christie

Oxford Bookstore wore an uncanny look last Thursday. A woman, aged 30 years, was found murdered at the store in Kolkata on 13 September 2018.  The store announced a special prize for detectives or anyone interested in solving crimes to come forward and solve this murder mystery. On 14 September, 50 detectives gathered at the crime scene and tried to solve the case to find the real culprit.

Tapes with “Do not cross” were pasted everywhere and the outline of a body marked with chalk on the floor, replicating a murder scene. For those reading with horror, let’s just calm your nerves… It was only to celebrate the birth anniversary of “Mystery Queen” — Agatha Christie — who has been ruling this genre since decades. They had even aptly named the event Death Among the Books, to honour the cult figure of this genre, whose works on the most unique murders continue to mesmerise the generations of readers.

It became a battle of wits as the audience turned into detectives and had to search for clues, question the staff and witnesses. They had to dig out the truth to solve the mystery.

The event was based on Murder on the Orient Express, a novel, and written by Agatha Christie and published in the year of 1934. A similar setting was at the 100-year-old heritage establishment, was done to pay tribute to the creator of charismatic detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.

The employees were disguised as imaginary characters – Alison (the store owner), Anna (the employee), Mr. VK (floor manager), Sam (show manager), Su (a customer), Vicky (accountant), Mr. T (cafe manager), Josh (police inspector),and Vinnie (journalist) were the major characters of this murder-mystery, and everyone played their roles to perfection.

The plot took an interesting turn when the audience turned into detectives, diligently investigating the matter and went around every nook and corner to gather evidence. Each member of the staff was questioned from various possible angles to nab the killer. Krishiv, a student of Class VII was excited to participate in the game and enthusiastically interrogated the suspects. Aritra Sarkar, whose favourite Christie novel is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd found the murder-mystery game outstanding. Archita Mitra, a student of Jadavpur University, was busy taking down notes of possible clues, said that The ABC Murders was her most favourite novel.

The cloud of uncertainty engulfed the scene for 45 minutes and an empty vial of poison was found in a corner adding a twist to the plot. It was followed by the discovery of a crumpled manuscript talking of a treasure trove in the dust bin. In a very gripping end, Alison and Sam turned out to be the real culprits who poisoned Susan to death because they wanted to protect the Secret Society which Susan had come to know of. The programme rounded off with cash awards being given to die-hard Christie fans, Shruti Swaika and Radhika Bapna, who successfully solved the crime.

 

The writers are students of SPJS