Murder Most Puzzling review: putting the pieces together
Many people found new hobbies during the COVID lockdowns.
Although video games will always be my preferred form of entertainment, the extra hours indoors allowed me branch into other areas. Escape rooms and choose-your-own-adventures which came in boxes instead of the real world provided a nice break away from the screen after working from home all day.
A recommendation from Katie from Musings of a nitpicking girl also saw me starting jigsaws again for the first time since I was a kid. It was the twist to the Exit Puzzle range by Ravensburger which drew me in. The game doesn’t end when you’ve manged to fit the 759 pieces together: the picture you’ve created is slightly different to the one on the box as it contains additional numbers and symbols. Figure out what they mean and you’ll ‘escape’ the situation depicted in the artwork.
I’ve been on the hunt for other similar jigsaws since then. Murder on the Nile introduced me to the Classic Mystery series by University Games, which sees you reading a short crime novel before creating a picture and deciphering its clues to catch the villain. And soon I’ll be starting the Art of Murder from their Murder Mystery Party: Case Files range, where you have to put together a large and several smaller puzzles to make an evidence board for your case.
While picking up a few bits on Amazon recently, one of their product suggestions highlighted the Murder Most Puzzling series. Two jigsaws based on the book by Stephanie von Reiswitz were available so I grabbed The Clairvoyants’ Convention version on a whim. The ‘plot’ takes place after a victim is found strangled at the event just before they could unmask a fraud at work in the crowd. Only the great detective Medea Throne can find the killer, but she needs a sidekick – and that’s where you come in.
Although this was one of the smaller mystery-type jigsaws I’ve done at only 500 pieces, it was also one of the most interesting.
What’s lovely about this jigsaw is that it’s contained in a box the shape of a book. The beginning of a short story printed on the inside cover opposite the pieces. The booklets which come with some of the other ranges above are rather long and I’ve found them a little tedious to get through. I was therefore surprised to see just a single page here with minimal details, considering the premise was to solve a murder, but it gave me all the information I needed and allowed me to get started on putting the puzzle together far more quickly.
Although this was one of the smaller mystery-type jigsaws I’ve done at only 500 pieces, it was also one of the most interesting. It made use of far more colours than some of the Classic Mystery instalments which can sometimes be pretty boring, and contained much less detail than the Exit Puzzle series which has a tendency induce a few moments of frustration. I managed to complete the whole thing in one sitting and found that, unlike a lot of other puzzles, it felt more difficult the further I progressed.
You’re instructed to open the envelope provided with the jigsaw about halfway through and it reveals a small clue and full image in case you need a push in the right direction. I didn’t find either of these to be necessary to finish however, and I don’t think anyone with puzzling-solving experience will have too many problems reaching the end. The solution to the mystery hangs on one specific detail. Once I’d realised there was a certain part of the picture which looked odd, the plot began to unravel and I managed to catch the murderer.
It’s worth noting that The Clairvoyants’ Convention may be slightly too easy if you’re someone who completes puzzles on a regular basis or has a lot of experience with them. If you’re looking for something which will remind you of classic detective novels and want a jigsaw which will take much longer to complete, perhaps try one of the Classic Mystery games. If it’s the puzzle-solving aspect of these things which appeals most to you, you might be better off picking up one of the Exit Puzzles instalments.
But if you’re looking for something which will help pass an entire afternoon or are interested in finding your first mystery jigsaw, this one illustrated by Stephanie von Reiswitz could be the perfect option for you. It doesn’t feel as though it drags on for too long, is relatively easy to solve and its packing is some of the nicest I’ve seen for a puzzle. I’ve read online that the other entry in the Murder Most Puzzling range is even better so I’m sure I’ll get around to trying The Missing Will too at some point.
Although video games will always be the thing I immediately turn to for entertainment, it was good to find another hobby which continues to hold interest for me even after lockdown. Zelda seems to enjoy them too as she always magically appears to cover everything in fur when the puzzle board is placed on the table. If you have any recommendations for other mystery jigsaws worth checking out, please do let me know.