When I facilitate mysteries in person at Shot In The Dark Mysteries fundraisers and other events, I spend some time “briefing” the Suspects; walking them through what will happen, what they can expect and what they will need to do as a “Suspect” in one of our mysteries. Since I won’t be at the party you’re attending though, consider this Suspect Guide as me sitting down with you to brief you! By the end of this guide you will know the format, what is expected of you, what you should do, shouldn’t do and more. You will be able to show up at your hosts’ party and totally rock being a Suspect with confidence. It will be a party you’ll never forget!

Sometimes, those playing a Suspect can be nervous or apprehensive because they don’t know what to expect. By the time The Big Reveal comes along, our Suspects are having so much that they don’t want it to end. I’m going to do my best to tell you what you can expect so that when the mystery is underway you can relax and have fun being your uber-suspicious character!

Forget What You Know About Mystery Parties

There is one thing you need to know before reading any further in your Suspect Guide: if you have attended or hosted a mystery from another company, you will have to forget what you know about mystery parties. Our format is completely different.

The format of your mystery party is a “Mingle” mystery. What this means is that instead of sitting around, reading in turns from a piece of paper, everyone is up and mingling around, questioning each other to piece together the clues and solve the mystery.

Shot In The Dark Mysteries is the only company in the murder mystery party industry to offer the “Mingle” mystery format. This exclusive, up-off-your-booty format originated from the mysteries we designed for large fundraisers, and we very quickly found that those involved loved how different and, quite frankly, hip and fun the format was compared to the mysteries they had experienced in the past. It wasn’t “theatre”, no one was putting on a “performance” and no one was “reading in turns”. It was new and radical. Like one of our participants once said, “This Ain’t Your Grandma’s Murder Mystery Party!”

We don’t use the word “Game” if we can avoid it. Our mysteries are a pure and true “Investigation” experience. Someone has been killed, and the Suspects have been identified. They need to be questioned, just like a Sleuth would question witnesses and suspects to solve the murder case.

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About the Mystery

This is an overview of how your mystery is designed, but remember that all of Shot In The Dark Mysteries’ packages are designed to be flexible, so your host may end up changing certain elements to suit their unique event.

  • Guests/Participants arrive
  • Mingling
  • Announcement of Murder
  • Guests/Participants interact to gather clues from Suspects for the predetermined amount of time
  • Sleuths cast accusations
  • Culprit is revealed (The Big Reveal)

Finally, relax and have a fantastic time! Being a Suspect in one of our mysteries really is great fun. If you have any questions before the mystery you can always speak with your host, but if you have a question pertaining to the mystery and you don’t want to risk “spoilers” for your host, don’t hesitate to send us an email at hello@shotinthedarkmysteries.com and we will do everything we can to help you prepare for the big day!

Have fun!

Suspects Can Investigate Too

The party you’re attending will fit into one of two scenarios; either everyone attending is a Suspect, or there are a handful of Suspects and everyone else will question the Suspects to piece together the mystery without taking on a character themselves.
Either way, you, as a Suspect, will also be flexing your sleuthing skills, questioning the other Suspects to find the killer.

Your Goal

The goal of the Suspect and Sleuth is to identify the killer (even if the killer is the character you are playing), and conceal your own motives as best as possible while still following the “Rules” (outlined below). Ideally, you will be the only one who will outsmart the others, showing what true, untapped genius lies within you. You want to identify the red herrings and rule them out as suspects, ask questions that will make the other Suspects give up their Hide information, deflect suspicion from yourself and try to steer investigations away from you.

Your “Clues”

You are receiving your “clues” (your information) ahead of the party so you can familiarize yourself with your information. Some people like to memorize their information, but this is in no way mandatory. Feel free to bring your Clues with you, either on paper or on your Smart Phone or other wireless device, and refer to the information if you want to!

There are two types of information you will receive in your Suspect Guide: “Share” and “Hide”. The Share information can, and should, be blurted out to anyone who comes your way, and is usually about the other Suspects, your alibi etc. The Share clues will push suspicion onto the other Suspects and away from you. The Hide information should be kept “close to your chest” and concealed as much as possible – without lying.

Usually, the Share and Hide Clues can be found on the last 2-3 pages of your Suspect Guide (this guide you’re reading right now). Some hosts will print off everything you will need, but if you need to print your clues yourself, print the last 2-3 pages of your Suspect Guide and, if you have one, the Floor Plan.

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The Rules

There are only three rules that you must, MUST abide by or the mystery will not work. Other than these three things, you can pretty much do anything you want.

  1. Don’t make up information about the other Suspects. There are only three rules that you must, MUST abide by or the mystery will not work. Other than these three things, you can pretty much do anything you want.
    For example, unless your Share information says “You saw Joe Jones kill the victim”, don’t say it!
  2. Don’t lie about your Hide information. So, if your Hide information says “You were running down the dark hallway at the time of the murder”, and someone comes to you and says, “So-and-So saw you running down the dark hallway at the time of the murder”, you can’t say “No, I wasn’t”, “I don’t know” or “Maybe, maybe not…”. Don’t lie.
  3. You must share your “Share” information. There’s always one person who thinks they’re going to be cool by playing the “tight-lipped” Suspect. No matter how many people ask them questions about things they saw, they won’t share their Share information. These people spoil their hosts’ parties.

No really. Here’s the thing about Share information: It’s designed to be used so that you can place the blame on someone else and deter suspicion from yourself. It also contains information vital to solving the mystery.

So, please don’t be a “tight-lipper” (as we not-so-affectionately refer to them). Don’t spoil everyone’s good time. Share your Share information, don’t lie when asked about your Hide information so we can all be friends, capiche?

Now, having said all that, you CAN be vague. An example of this is “Where were you at the time of the murder?” “I was in the hallway.” You don’t have to tell them you were actually in the hallway with the victim. Wait for them to ask you “Were you alone?” Let the sleuths work for it!

I Have Nothing to Say About That

Sometimes, participants will get REALLY into it and come up with off-the-wall questions. If you are asked something totally out there, something not remotely related to anything provided to you in your Share or Hide information, simply say “I have nothing to say about that”. The other participants will be informed in the Announcement of Murder that this phrase means they are on the wrong track, but saves the awkwardness of having to break everyone’s concentration to explain that there is no information about what they’re asking. This phrase definitively tells the investigator that you aren’t just being vague, but that you genuinely don’t have the answer they’re looking for.

The Killer Doesn’t Know They Are the Killer

Sometimes there are participants who will wander around asking everyone if they are the murderer. If this person is at your party, it will probably be in a loud, accusatory voice, and they will shout, “WHY DID YOU DO IT? WHY DID YOU KILL HIM/HER?” We love these people – they make everyone laugh. So, if this person shows up at the party, don’t worry, you’re not going to be in an awkward position. The killer doesn’t know they’re the killer, so you can be entirely honest with the material you have without worry about letting something slip that you shouldn’t. Here’s why we choose not to let the killer know they are the killer…

Shot In The Dark Mysteries doesn’t just put together a mystery package in theory and assume it will work at a party. We actually host these mysteries ourselves, in small private scenarios and large, public events like fundraisers. Based on our real live experiences, we have chosen to keep the killer a mystery, even from the killer, for a few reasons.

First, not knowing allows all Suspects to be completely honest with the information they receive. Second, it allows all players to piece together the mystery equally. With one Suspect not investigating, the identity of the culprit quickly becomes clear and the mystery ends up ruined. Not only that, when the participants know each other well, it can quickly become obvious who the killer is based on the way they act. Therefore, in our experience, your mystery is more successful when the killer isn’t aware they are the killer.

Not to mention that the Suspect who is the killer can cast an Accusation before The Big Reveal, even if that Accusation is against themselves!

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How to Investigate Solving the Mystery

The party you are attending is classified as an interactive “Mingle” mystery. This means you will be up off your hiney, speaking with the other Suspects and participants and asking and answering questions to piece together the mystery. It’s a true investigation, which means that you will have to use “The Little Grey Cells” as Poirot would say, to form a theory about the killer, their motives, who had the means (ability) and who had the opportunity to commit murder.

If this sounds intimidating, don’t worry. It’s actually easier than the the traditional form of mystery party. You don’t have to perform lines or embarrassing stunts, you just simply investigate, and try not to incriminate yourself. You will be provided with a few questions in the Announcement of Murder (which are also on the Notes page you will receive from your host). Those questions will allow you to gather enough information to naturally come up with your own questions.

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How to Use the Play Site

The PLAY! Site is a place you can send your guests pre-party to get information about the mystery you’ve chosen. Here they can view the trailer, see the Suspect List, find out what to expect and more. The PLAY! Resources are always being expanded, and will vary from mystery to mystery (for example, some mysteries don’t require costumes, and are classified as “Costume Casual”, so they won’t have costume ideas, whereas others may have resources like “1920’s Slang”. The PLAY! Site is located here: https://www.shotinthedarkmysteries.com/play/

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Costumes are an important part of a themed mystery party, and for the “themed” mysteries, you will find a discussion about costumes on the PLAY! Site for your particular mystery. We also have costume ideas on our Pinterest boards at:


If Your Mystery is “Costume Casual”

Some mysteries have themes that are obvious (ie: A Flapper Murder at the 1920’s Speakeasy and The Masquerade Murder) and costumes will be obvious. But if you have been invited to what we call a “Costume Casual” mystery, you will not have costume suggestions, or they will be vague. We do this on purpose so that your host can set a theme as they see fit.

There’s a great article about how to select a costume for a “Costume Casual” mystery on our website at:


If you still can’t decide what to wear, we are always here to help!

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