In honour of this mysterious month of May, CBC Books mashed up some CanLit characters and presents a little murder mystery of our own. A new chapter was revealed every few days and we ask you, our readers, to solve the mystery before we revealed the culprit!
Congratulations to Cherry Blossoms, who is the grand prize winner, Cherry Blossoms gets to take home a brand new Sony Reader™ Digital Book. The two runners-up, Jackie S. and MarkyMark, each get to take home a CanLit Mystery prize pack!
Read the complete mystery below to find out who committed the crime.
Whodunit? Was it Emily Byrd Starr from Lucy Maud Montgomery's Emily of New Moon series? Angus McLintock from Terry Fallis's The Best Laid Plans? The always mysterious Ramona Flowers from Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim series? Dunstan Ramsay from Robertson Davies' classic Fifth Business? Or Mordecai Richler's iconic character Duddy Kravitz from The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz?
PART ONE: WEDNESDAY, MAY 23
Naturally, the lights went out halfway through the awkward dinner party. Various mysterious sounds ensued: smashing glass and various thuds and grunts and footsteps. When the lights came back on, everyone was standing, agape, and the sixth guest and the host were missing from the dining room. The glass door that led out to the yard was ajar, and shattered, and there was a small mound of snow melting on the dining-room carpet. Suddenly, the host screamed. Everyone raced out to join him.
The sixth guest was dead, lying face down in the doorway of the dining room.
The night was snowy and stormy. Five people, previously unacquainted except through what they'd read of each other, had been invited to the home of their sole mutual friend, Avi D. Reader. They'd arrived one by one, wary of the prospect of a cross-genre dinner party, but always hungry for higher readership. Avi welcomed each character warmly, and had prepared a coyly thematic meal, each dish a sly reference to one of his guests. Some ingredients, of course, had to be outsourced, but Duddy Kravitz seemed happy enough to bring a dozen bagels from Montreal. Avi was relieved to see that it was the Duddy from the book who showed up, not the Duddy from the movie. Avi couldn't abide movie adaptations.
Ramona Flowers arrived first, having rollerbladed through subspace to avoid traffic. Next, Angus McLintock stormed up to the door, and immediately started complaining about the traffic to Dunstan Ramsay.
A sixth guest was also in attendance that night, present from the beginning. Sullen and gruff, he sat in a corner and glared as the guests arrived, scowling especially hard at Ramona's rollerblades and then at Emily Starr, who arrived carrying a thick manuscript. Ramona, recognizing him from one of her shortcuts (she knew they didn't agree on most things, including the cultural value of manga), returned the scowl.
The sixth guest gave a brief nod of recognition to Dunstan, and reached right into Duddy's bag of bagels to help himself to a pre-dinner snack.
PART 2: FRIDAY, MAY 25
Emily had been hoping to show her manuscript to the dead man. Instead, Dunstan had thumbed through it. The two of them were seated side by side at dinner and were deep in discussion. Emily looked distressed, but then, Emily often looked distressed, so who knows how much of a clue that is.
During dinner, only Duddy noticed when Ramona put on her earmuffs. She said she was chilly, but Duddy was astute enough to know that she was trying to drown out the earsplitting brogue to her left, as Angus prattled on to the sixth guest as though trying to talk him to death.
PART 3: MONDAY, MAY 28
At first, suspicion fell on Dunstan, who had excused himself to use the bathroom shortly before the lights went out. Dunstan swore he had never seen the sixth guest before. Avi was crying. Emily patted him awkwardly on the back as he explained who the dead man was. "My favourite English professor," he said, through sobs. "I wanted you all to meet him! Dunstan, he always reminded me of you. And Ramona, I thought you could win him over to recognizing the artistic merit of graphic novels! Emily, I thought if he could see your manuscript before Dean got to it, you'd be happier quicker! Angus, I thought you could make him finally recognize the value of self-published work! And Duddy...I needed some real Montreal bagels."
The guests recoiled. "This guy has been trying to get self-published books declared ineligible for any awards in Canada," growled Angus. "He's been fighting for copyright laws to forbid any book from being adapted into a movie," said Duddy. "I use his subconscious as a shortcut sometimes," admitted Ramona. "There's some nasty stuff in there."
Avi ran to the bathroom, where he could be heard vomiting. Maybe there was something in the bagels.
Eyes turned to Duddy. "Don't anybody eat another bagel," said Ramona.
PART 4: WEDNESDAY, MAY 30
Skating around the dining room in an attempt to clear her head, Ramona slipped in the little pile of snow. Emily raced to her side. "Why are your shoes wet?" Ramona asked her. Emily turned bright red. Dunstan noticed. "You really need to learn how to take criticism a bit better," he said to Emily.
There are two. Duddy hated the Professor, for he knows the film industry needs book adaptations in order to survive with any credibility whatsoever. He fed the professor a poisoned bagel. At the moment the lights went out, the Professor was beginning to suffer from horrible cramps and stood up and turned to amble towards the doorway to the hall in search of ipecac or something. Meanwhile, Emily also contributed to the murder, although accidentally. Furious at Dunstan, who she felt was lecturing her patronizingly about her manuscript (he was trying to encourage her to write more plainly, which she did not take well), Emily took the opportunity of a power outage to run outside through the glass door, expertly roll together a snowball containing a rock, and whip it at Dunstan's head. Dunstan, as is his wont when he feels something whizzing towards his head, ducked, and the sixth guest (the Professor) was next in the line of fire. The blow to the head knocked him out for long enough for the poisoned bagel to work its deadly way through his system.