Otto Einstein, cousin of the famous scientist and a victim of mistaken identity, asks visitors about the mechanics of a time machine so he can return home. Einstein is known as J. Scott Williams in other dimensions. (Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

Otto Einstein, cousin of the famous scientist and a victim of mistaken identity, asks visitors about the mechanics of a time machine so he can return home. Einstein is known as J. Scott Williams in other dimensions. (Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

Doggone ‘Mystery’ sets records for customers, canines and clues

Sleuthhounds abound at event’s 35th anniversary

Mystery Weekend 2019 officially went to the dogs.

But that’s just fine with organizers because at the end of those leashes were super sleuths who spent time and money in Langley in record numbers.

“This year’s event was another record breaker, with a 25 percent increase in gross sales,” said Inge Morascini, executive director of the Langley Chamber of Commerce. “Going into the weekend, we were up 43 percent over last year in online pre-sales. Having a good portion of sales in the bag takes some of the pressure off in case of bad weather.”

Chilly temperatures didn’t keep wannabe detectives from clogging the city’s streets, stores and restaurants as they collected clues and questioned a host of characters about who killed Professor E.D. Brown, discovered dead near his splintered time machine outside Rob Schouten Gallery.

Preliminary data indicate an increase over last year’s count of 2,700 participants.

Many came in groups of friends, family and dogs, dressed Sherlock Holmes-style, the dogs that is. Dashing Detective Daffodil, a low-riding pooch in plaid cap and coat, caused many a double-take.

But who better to sniff out clues than canines, observed Morascini.

“People do attend this event year after year but there seemed to be more “newbies” this year than in previous years,” she said. “There also seemed to be more children and dogs.”

This year’s crime called “Killing Time” was once again written by Loretta Martin, who is both prolific and a punster when it comes to describing the unfolding scenes of suspense.

She also tries to inject community chaos into the play. This time came a crack about law enforcement using “excessive force,” a reference to the woes of Langley’s former police chief.

This year marked the 35th annual Mystery Weekend, dubbed the longest-running live community mystery game in the nation. Participants plunked down $12 for a clue map, fake newspaper full of fake news and a fancy brochure with steampunk time-traveling art.

A most unsuspecting docile-looking Elizabeth Howe, dubbed the Goodwife, turned out to be the murderer. She was arrested and led away in front of hundreds of howling mystery fans crammed into Langley Children’s Theater Sunday afternoon.

Howe was one of many historical characters who time traveled into Langley, looking bewildered and bemused. The professor had plans to return them to their respective centuries so as not to alter history, which in Howe’s case wasn’t so pleasant. She was convicted of witchcraft and hanged in Salem on July 19, 1692.

Howe learned of her fate while perusing the Langley Library for information on local herbs.

So she put an end to the professor with a well-baked apple pie laced with poison.

The End. Until next year.

Daffodil joined a group of detective dachshunds out sniffing for clues, properly decked out in cap and coat. (Photo provided)

Daffodil joined a group of detective dachshunds out sniffing for clues, properly decked out in cap and coat. (Photo provided)

Dr. John Watson, also known as Bob Essex, gets a grilling from Mystery Weekend participants Sunday. “That group on the corner was intense,” he later said. “In the many years I’ve done this, I don’t think I’ve ever been so interrogated.” (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

Dr. John Watson, also known as Bob Essex, gets a grilling from Mystery Weekend participants Sunday. “That group on the corner was intense,” he later said. “In the many years I’ve done this, I don’t think I’ve ever been so interrogated.” (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

Shayne Thomas, playing a young King Arthur, fought his way through Langley’s many overflowing sidewalks as he searched for his wizard mentor, Merlin. (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

Shayne Thomas, playing a young King Arthur, fought his way through Langley’s many overflowing sidewalks as he searched for his wizard mentor, Merlin. (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

Linda Trefts, playing Elizabeth Howe, is arrested and led off the stage Sunday by Officer Polly Graph for the murder of Prof. E.D. Brown. Officer Graph is really Loretta Martin, author of many Mystery Weekend plots, including this year’s crime, “Killing Time.” (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

Linda Trefts, playing Elizabeth Howe, is arrested and led off the stage Sunday by Officer Polly Graph for the murder of Prof. E.D. Brown. Officer Graph is really Loretta Martin, author of many Mystery Weekend plots, including this year’s crime, “Killing Time.” (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

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