Have you ever wanted to alarm half of your office with a single sentence? Try this one: I’m going to be doing some murder research at lunch if anyone wants to help.” To be honest, it didn’t really work for me, but it might for you. I got a handful of “tha fuck?” looks, but I also had five instant volunteers. 90 percent of my little office would go on to join in eventually, trying on their own detective hats and taking them for a test drive.
All of this was made possible by Hunt A Killer. A subscription experience that offers users the opportunity to receive monthly correspondence from a killer. These mailings form an extended story — there’s a murder (or murders?!) to solve, but there are also side plots that emerge over time. It’s a compelling proposition. But my question — and I assume yours too — was can Hunt A Killer really craft a story that feels real? My core of would-be investigators is only one box in, but we’ve so far been impressed by the level of detail — yes, the Google is rife with spoilers, but that path also leads to a number of surprising revelations seeded by the Hunt A Killer folks.
I’m going to resist the temptation to go Full Ravenclaw in recounting our adventure so far, because the delight in this thing truly is in digging around and tossing out theories. Our research sessions inevitably ended up in whiteboard walls covered with scribbled lists of clues and suppositions and the lot of us feeling like we had to be missing something. Even now, I’m pretty sure we did, but not for lack of considering every single thing that crossed our minds.
Here’s where I’ll get into some light spoilers, so click away if you haven’t yet opened the first box and done some investigating.
As I mentioned before, a number of people have spent a number of hours on this first box. Here’s what we found, clue-wise, when we opened it:
- A letter from Listening Friends of America, thanking us for volunteering to be someone’s friend
- A typed letter from our Friend
- A redacted newspaper clipping
- A print of a swan, labeled “The Swan”
- A print of the night sky, detailing how the stars look at specific times at specific locations, with a piece of (we think) fiber optics taped to the back
- A smashed paper pill or condiment cup
We’re still not sure entirely what to make of some of the items — for instance, the paper cup we assume to mean our pal is medicated, but what else we’re meant to glean (as that might be the case in a prison or a mental health institution), we cannot yet fathom. Other pieces we feel we’ve done quite well with. Some aggressive googling around the welcome letter eventually led us to a ciper — which I cracked with visions of Zodiac floating in my head. We’ve considered that there might be hidden messages in some of the paper, we’ve looked at the thickness and weight of individual letters, anticipating some revelation. We’ve floated the idea of using the fiber optic to poke holes in constellations and holding that paper up to some other one to look for a hidden missive.
We’ve covered a lot of ground and reached plenty of conclusions we think are correct, but here’s the rub. We still don’t know who died. And we definitely don’t know who did it. The working theory is that our Friend will reveal he was convicted of the crime and lead us after some other possible culprit. So yeah, second box, here we come. We’re still pretty convinced we’re clever, but also quite prepared to realize everything we think we know is a lie. This flatfoot gig is rough work, but we’re desperate for more.