Chinese Take Out, Great Way to Spend an Evening

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Standing: Suzan Rango, Peggy Hansen, Dennis Barrett, Kathryn Timinskas Sitting: Barb King, Connie Barrett. Submitted photo.

The cast of characters recently gathered at the home of local Mesquite resident, Marianne Johnstone, to solve the mystery of who killed wealthy widow Mrs. Emily Boggs in 1993, in San Francisco, California.  The dinner celebrates the return of her long lost daughter, Ashley, who was kidnapped as an infant twenty-five years earlier during a Hong Kong riot.

Mrs. Boggs’ was known for serving her friends and servants fortune cookies with personalized prophecies for each. Because the killer was familiar with this custom, he or she poisoned Mrs. Boggs’ cookie with deadly potassium cyanide and left her a fortune, predicting “Death will come uninvited.”  Because her death was a premeditated murder, all of the dinner invitees are suspects.

The suspects include: Chew Chow, the long time cook who is skilled with food-chopping knives, played by Suzan Rango; Penny Sylvan, a live-in nurse of four years, who takes charge of her life and health, played by Kathryn Timinskas; Axel Dent, her private chauffeur of many years and former Indy race car driver who drives her Rolls-Royce, played by Dennis Barrett; Lai Low, a Chinese maiden and exchange student who lives with Mrs. Boggs to learn western ways, and who was sent by her father to take over the late Mr. Boggs’ import-export business, played by Barb King; Him Wong, a retired police detective from the Hong Kong police force, who reinvestigated this case after not being able to solve the kidnapping  twenty-five years ago, played by Peggy Hansen; Anita Mumm, who is positive she is Mrs. Boggs’ missing daughter Ashley, even though she was a young child when taken, but who does resemble the late Mr. Boggs.

As with these whodunit mysteries, everyone is asked to come dressed as their character, and also to add any extra props, make-up, mustaches, weapons, hats, wigs, etc. to make people look real. Mrs. Johnson devotes a bedroom in her home to these plays and dress-up pieces. She also serves as the narrator, Dennis Swift, and as the host who serves the food.

During an initial introduction of the story’s suspects and a brief accusatory session by each, sometimes voiced in the native accents, creamed soda is served in frozen mugs.  As the plot starts to thicken, dinner is served, and what a feast it is!  Chicken fried rice, beef chow mein, noodles, shrimp, egg rolls, Chinese flavorings, strawberries and chocolate dip are some of the savory dishes.

Once back to the script, which is read in a format of play acts, the cast gets on with more allegations.  Finally, there is a chance for each to say who he thinks did the dastardly murder.  Only one person guessed correctly.  (Remember, everyone had reasons to want to receive Mrs. Boggs’ large inheritance.)

While awaiting the murderer’s reveal, guests were served dessert, consisting of a delicious creamed cheese pie, topped with frozen raspberries. The mystery was then solved, and surprise was displayed in everyone’s faces.

Shouts of “That was fun” and “Let’s do it again” are always heard.  Many are anxious to come to Marianne’s next mystery dinner party.

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