Stranger Than Fiction

By Paul Howls

As the saying goes: "Truth is stranger than fiction"; so Dr. Black thought he would make a killing by writing a book about the unusual activities of a 'quiet' English village. Unfortunately for him, someone else decided to make a killing before he could.

Dr. Black sat at the head of the Dining Room table sipping his glass of Merlot. Silence had descended on the room after Black's announcement that he had written a book about the exploits of the village - and had included details about each of the people in the room.

"I don't know what sort of joke you're playing here" Vivienne Scarlett growled "but it is not remotely funny."
"You've a nerve" Mustard barked "I've a right mind to…"
"Calm down" Reverend Green said quickly "I'm sure David has hardly mentioned us in his book. Is that not right David?"

"Ha!" Black laughed "You six are the key characters. People will spend a lot of money to read about a society woman and her MANY husbands and an ex-SAS officer who is having an affair with his fiancée's step-daughter! Let alone a professor who takes advantage of his female pupils; a quiet, friendly cook who's husband died under mysterious circumstances; and a reverend who has been breaking his vows!"

The six guests all sat stunned from the revelations laid before them.

"I'm not listening to any more of this" Mustard shouted as he left his place at the table and stormed out of the room.
"Neither am I!" Mrs. Peacock said following him.

Miss Scarlett, Professor Plum and Reverend Green also left the room with disgusted faces. They couldn't believe that such a close friend could turn on them in this way.

"That was a very silly thing you've done there" Mrs. White muttered as she picked up the candlestick that has been knocked into the cheesecake. "All I can say now is that you should be careful. Be VERY careful." With that she left the room with the candlestick in her hand.

Sitting alone at the table, Black emptied the last bottle of red wine into his glass and smiled.

In the lounge, Miss Scarlett and Mrs. Peacock were arguing.

"It's a pack of lies!" Vivienne lied to her step-mother "As if Michael and I would…"
"Shut up Vivienne!" Peacock snapped as she played with a dagger on the mantelpiece. "I've had my suspicions for a while, this only confirms it."
"All David is going on are his suspicions as well. I tell you, it's not true."

Elizabeth Peacock glared at the off-spring of her first husband. "If I find out you are lying to me" she said as she stepped up to Miss Scarlett and pointed the dagger at her throat "then you can wave goodbye to more than just Arlington Grange!"


Professor Plum was sitting in a wicker chair watching the rain pour down the Conservatory panes. Behind him, Colonel Mustard was marching back and forth, slapping a piece of lead piping in his hands.

"How dare he?" Mustard spat "How dare he? We were so close as well. What proof could he have? It will be his word against ours. Of course, that won't stop people buying the book and reading… that! How dare he?"

Mustard paced up and down as the Professor remained silent, seemingly unaware of the colonel's protestations.

"There must be a way to stop him, there must… ah ha!" Mustard turned on his heals and ran out of the room.

Plum still did not move. He was thinking…

In the Library, the reverend sat in meditation. He had to think clearly. What could he do? He never expected David to turn on him like his. After all these years. Why now? Why like this? At the very least, he'd loose his job. More likely more than that…

With a creak, one of the doors to the Library opened and in stepped Black.

"Oh!" Green said quietly as he realised who it was. Suddenly, he was filled with anger and ran towards Black, hands outstretched.

Black quickly put his full glass on a nearby table and pulled his revolver out of his jacket pocket.

Green stopped in his tracks. The two of them stared at each other in silence. Green's lips slowly mouthed the words "Why?" Then he backed off and left by the other door.

As Green stepped out of the Library, he narrowly avoided being bowled over by Mustard who ran past him and bust into the study. Recovering, he headed for the Ballroom.


Mrs. White finished wiping the candlestick with a tea towel, after having washed all of the cheesecake from its ridges. "There now" she said to herself "that's much better." She stood at the Kitchen sink thinking of how Mr. White would always inspect what she had done and say "Lovely, Blanche. It looks lovely." If only she could undo what had happened.

"How could he?" She shouted aloud "How could he rake up the past?"

At that moment, a set of red fingernails gripped her arm and she realised that she was no longer alone in the room. Her eyes followed the long thin arm back to its owner's face. "Oh Vivienne" she said through tears as she hugged the young girl she had nannied for many years. "Why is he doing this to us?"

"I don't know" Miss Scarlett replied "I really do not know."

Mrs. Peacock opened the door to the study and was shocked. There were papers, books and ornaments everywhere. It looked like someone had ransacked the room. As a book whizzed past her ear, she discovered the cause of the mess.

"What ARE you doing Michael?" she enquired, quickly hiding in her pocket, the dagger that she was carrying.

"Oh!" Mustard remarked "I didn't hear you come in. I'm trying to find it before he gets the chance…"
"Slow down, slow down." Elizabeth said, holding up her hands "What are you trying to find?"
"The book of course! He must be keeping it in here somewhere. If we can find it, then we can stop him from publishing it."

"I'm sorry to say this" Peacock said miserably "but I'm sure that he has it locked away very safely. He would have made sure of that before telling us all."

Mustard slowly put down the lead piping that he had been smashing things with and mumbled "I guess you're right."

He stood still for a few moments then with a remarkable change of mood said "Very well, if I'm not going to smash any more of Black's study, then I will smash a few billiard balls instead."

He walked over to his fiancée, put his arms around her waist and kissed her. "You know that what Black was saying was a pack of lies, don't you?"
"Of course I do Michael." Peacock smiled.

Mustard gave her another long kiss and then marched out of the room, leaving Mrs. Peacock trying to decide what to do next.

In the Ballroom, Reverend Green and Professor Plum were discussing their predicament.

"I tell you Green, I've solved everything! There's nothing to worry about."
"What! How?"

The professor moved closer to the reverend. Twisting a piece of rope in his hands, he said in a quiet voice "Well…"

Just then, Miss Scarlett came into the room, swinging a spanner by her side. Seeing the men's startled faces, she asked "So what's going on in here?"

Green and Plum looked at each other. Then Plum said "Excuse us Vivienne, we err… were just going to play a game of billiards."

Before he could leave the room, Scarlett stood in his way. "No. Something is going on here, and you're not leaving until you tell me what it is!"

Mrs. White came out the dining room and heard loud banging noise coming from the Hall. Entering the Hall she found Mrs. Peacock smashing a piece of panelling.

Blanche ran over to her, and grabbed Peacock's arm before she could strike another blow. As she held her arm, White could feel her employer shaking with rage.

"Come with me." She said quietly, leading the distraught figure towards the lounge.

After making their excuses to Miss Scarlett; Professor Plum and Reverend Green had finally managed to break free from her interrogation and had fled to the Billiard Room. Once inside, Professor Plum moved around the room and closed the side door so that they could talk without being disturbed. As he closed the door, he noticed the door to the library also being shut.

He walked slowly back into the centre of the room. "I will explain all as we play." He said as he passed a cue to the reverend.

Unfortunately for the reverend though, they had only just finished setting up the game, when Colonel Mustard joined them in the room. "Ah!" he said, "I've been looking for you two, to play a game."

"You'll have to wait your turn" Green said through pursed lips, annoyed at the colonel's presence.

"No problem, I'll wait." the colonel said as he sat down in a chair and picked a glass up from a table beside him. "Ah!" he said as he took as sip, "I love Merlot."

No sooner had he said this, than an ear piercing scream filled the house.


Dr. David Black has been murdered. Miss Scarlett discovered his body at the bottom of the cellar stairs (marked with an ‘X’ on the map).

Inspector Grey has been sent in to discover which of the six guests at the house that night killed him. But he's having problems and needs your help.

By clicking on the suspects’ pictures to the left, you can read their answers to the questions that Inspector Grey has posed them.

Click on the Weapons icon (top left) to see where the possible weapons were discovered and where they are usually kept.

Click on the Map icon (top right) to see the layout of Tudor Close.
NOTE: This will open as a separate window so that you can refer to it whenever you want.

Click on the "Murder Cards" icon to make a suggestion as to Whodunit, with What and Where. You will then be told how many you guessed correctly. Try and do this as few times as possible.

Click on the Book icon to bring you back to this story.

Click on the central "Cluedo" icon (or on the link below) to take you back to the main page.

Try to solve the mystery by reading as few of the testimonies as you can before you make a suggestion. If you get it wrong, go back to the testimonies and read a little more.

HINT: Cluedo is a game of deduction. Any of the six suspects at the house that night could be the killer. Try to work out who could have possibly done it, what weapons they had access to and where they (and Dr. Black) could have gone. All movements should be supported by the story, the testimonies or the items that people picked up during the evening.

Also, the locations of the weapons will help you invaluably. Try to work out how they got to where they ended up.

If you get REALLY stuck, there are more hints through the "Murder Cards" section - but please try not to use them.


© Paul Howls, 2000


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