The weekend before last, Randi revealed her birthday present to me after I had been too rubbish at anagrams to figure it out in advance: a murder mystery weekend at Mont Rest Inn, Iowa! This is a wonderful B&B in its own right, painstakingly rebuilt after a fire. My favourite feature was probably the miniature world’s fair diorama, complete with little binoculars for closer inspection. (I spotted the Boots at the back along the British high street, naturally.)
We were also lucky enough to visit while the owner was paying a visit, and during the tornado warning (“get on the lowest floor possible”, the TV alert announced, before switching to a flash flood warning which instructed us to “seek higher ground”) we accepted her offer of shelter in the basement. It didn’t take long to realise that, just like last time, we were in a strongly Democratic B&B, with mementos from the visits of past presidential candidates on the walls. Lobbying is totally overrated: if you want to meet powerful politicians, just open a B&B in Iowa.
For the murder mystery itself, we were assigned characters and costumes with the other guests, and learnt the basic outline of the case, before settling down to a scrumptious meal to discuss who might be to blame. This is a bit of a mistake in the format, really, because the food is so delicious (freshest salmon ever?) that it’s hard to stay focused on catching the killer. Especially when the killer turns out to be one smug looking Randi Lawrence. So yes, she escaped justice without facing a single accusation.
The next morning we stopped by the Maquoketa Caves State Park, which is distinguished by an extensive series of caves to wander through. (Top tip: the wandering is much enhanced by the thought that you’ve bought a fresh pair of shoes and socks to change into later.) An unusual park and highly recommended!
Finally, on the way home, we were only about 15 minutes shy of being these people. Darn.
Sharon Dinkin, Bonnie Ní Súilleabháin, Amanda Schalk, Jason Zhou, Randi Lawrence, Katie Sharing, Beth Dubowe-Lawrence, Gillian Self liked this post.