The *Complete* Meh Mystery!



When eccentric billionaire steam mop mogul Dallas McAllen hosted a party, he always went all out, offering up his mansion to a wide array of strange characters. Only, last night, he invited one guest too many. For, sometime just after midnight, a cry was heard from his study, and the man of much wealth and little reason was found murdered.

But this will not be an open and shut case. With 30 suspects–many of whom are devious, depraved, desperate, or all of the above–it will be a mystery that only the best can untangle. Sadie Dufresne–an Inspector of the Royal Knights order (shorthand - IRK), one of the highest ranking detectives in all the land–arrived on the scene as quickly as she could to put the pieces together. But she’ll need help if she has any chance of figuring this thing out. And she’ll need it… from YOU!

So what do you say? Will you help IRK Dufresne crack the case?


Claude Money’s name earned him much mockery. Those who knew art thought it hilarious that he, a mere house painter, very nearly shared the name of the famed French impressionist, while others simply found it funny that he so clearly lacked an excess of his surname. Dallas McAllen, though, had treated him with kindness when he’d hired him to paint one of his lake houses and then later to do some work at his mansion. He had even invited Claude to one of his parties. And how did Claude feel about that? Ashamed. Not of being offered charity, but of his own nefarious intentions. For as soon as he secured the invite he began planning how he would steal and re-sell the painting he’d seen when the billionaire invited him up to his study for a drink after a long day painting in the sun: an original of his almost namesake, something with which to fulfill the promise of his family name. It still hangs there now, but given its location, and that it is slightly askew, could it be that Claude was caught in the act and, in turn, committed a much more despicable crime?


IRK Sadie Dufresne calls the coroner to check in and see if his examination of the victim has turned up anything new.

“Any idea the cause of death?” she asks.

“Appears that he was stabbed,” the coroner says.

“What gives you that idea?” Sadie asks.

“Mostly the stab wounds,” says the coroner. “And the EatNeat Knife in his back. You know, one of the ones that usually comes with a cutting board.”

“Good work, doctor,” Sadie replies. “That’s very helpful information.”


Professional bowler Hal Dempling, at the height of his powers, bowled with a McAllen Steam Mop endorsement. So thankful was he for this that he never used another brand, even at home, when no one would know. And they worked well. So well, in fact, that they steamed his floor nice and slick, and on such a slick floor, he slipped, breaking his dominant wrist irreparably upon impact with the tile, ending his career. Of course, McAllen, who he considered a friend, paid him handsomely to keep the steam mop’s part in the mishap hush hush. But a man doesn’t just bowl for the money. He bowls for the love of the game. And could it be that he grew to secretly hate the man who took this away from him? Hate him so much, in fact, that he sought to kill him?


Joseph Tibbins, the art dealer, thought Dallas McAllen might be having an affair with his wife. Could it be that he sought revenge for being made a cuckold?


IRK Sadie Dufresne calls the coroner to check in and see if his examination of the victim has turned up anything new.

“Any updates?” she asks.

“Yes, actually,” the coroner says. “Before he was stabbed, it appears he choked on some Earthside Farms Individually-Wrapped Keto Brownie Bites.”

“So he wasn’t murdered?” Sadie says, perplexed.

“I don’t think he ate them himself,” says the coroner. “I think he was forced to eat them.”

“What gives you that impression?” Sadie asks.

“Well, they were still wrapped,” says the coroner.

“Good work, doctor,” Sadie replies. “That’s very helpful information.”


Erin Tibbins, a publishing executive, knew her husband, Joseph Tibbins the art dealer, thought she was having an affair with Dallas McAllen, but, though she did nothing to deny the fact, she wasn’t. What she was doing was losing a major author, Hilda Brennon, to a rival publishing house. She would, in turn, likely lose her job, making Joseph the primary breadwinner of their household. He would be even more haughty than usual, and moreover, might criticize her artisanal honey addiction, its purchase being made with money out of an account he would soon refill exclusively. Could she have murdered McAllen to frame her husband, thus sending him away and leaving her to spend the sum of their accumulated wealth as she pleased?


Author Hilda Brennon took the mantra “write what you know” to the extremes. For example, to write her second novel, concerning a torrid affair carried out by underwater bomb diffusers, she learned both how to dive and how to diffuse bombs. Rumor had it, several of the bombs she diffused were live, such were her demands for authenticity. Her new novel, about the mysterious death of a billionaire in the mop industry, had been giving her trouble. She’d been blocked for months. So, when Dallas McAllen invited her to his party, might she have tried to kickstart the writing process by carrying out its key plot point herself?


Terrance Hynes, the McAllen estate’s morning butler, wanted a raise, but never got it. Might he have been bitter enough to end his employer’s life?


Hattie Marshall doesn’t consider herself a groundskeeper of the McAllen estate. She thinks of herself The Keeper of the Grounds. It sounds more epic and thus allows her one way to live out her ultimate fantasy: feeling like a superhero. Another way? Through the collection of FanMan comics. Initially, she’d chosen FanMan as her favorite comic book superhero simply because the comics were easier to acquire, given there were fewer collectors. But over time, she came to love him, and she has always wanted the entirety of his catalog. But her collection is one issue short: Issue Number Five, FanMan versus The Rent Raiser. A copy comes on the market so rarely that when she saw one on her favorite auction site two weeks ago, she figured it was a scam. But no, there it was, certified real and authentic. She bid. And she bid. And she bid. She offered every dime in the account she’d set up for such things. And still, she couldn’t win the auction. Instead, the comic went to user Dal_McAll. Hattie seethed and seethed until her employer asked if she wouldn’t mind helping out during the party. “It’d be a little extra money,” Dallas McAllen had said with what Hattie perceived to be a knowing smile. “Maybe you could buy something you like.” Hattie imagined he meant to sell her the comic for more money than he had bid, a cruel thing to do for someone so monied as him, making a paltry little profit on something she held dear. But nonetheless, she agreed to work his party. Maybe to make the money. Or maybe to enact her revenge…


IRK Sadie Dufresne calls the coroner to check in and see if his examination of the victim has turned up anything new.

“Any updates?” she asks.

“Yes, actually,” the coroner says. “We found something curious. An Evergreen Harvest Illuminated Fall Floral Stake driven into his chest. And by my estimation, it was actually staked in earlier than the knife was stabbed into his back.”

“Good work, doctor,” Sadie replies. “That’s very helpful information.”


Could it be pop star Henri Gladhand, who attended the party on a drug described to him by his friend as “peyote on steroids”, thus rendering the night a fiery haze?


Finley Lancested, the McAllen estate’s afternoon butler, asked for a McAllen steam mop to clean the floor of his room in the butler wing of the mansion, but McAllen refused. Could it be that Finley saw this denial of something so easily procured as the ultimate act of penny-pinching hubris? And might he have sought to punish his employer for it… with death?


Could it have been Peyton Owens, the yacht dealer who has attended fifteen of McAllen’s parties, thinking each would be the one when he’d land the deal of a lifetime, only for no deals to materialize, driving him into a rage?


Could it have been Moira Masterson, Dallas McAllen’s eccentric artist friend who paints only with shades of red?


Could it have been McAllen’s older cousin, Maude Thrush, who taught young Dallas how to mop place but never seemed to get her due credit for his ascension?


Alvin Morlock, the McAllen estate’s evening butler and the only butler working during the party (though all butlers were in the house that night), was made to wear a ridiculous lobster costume for the duration of his shift. He assumed this to be related to some theme, but it was not. It was simply to give guests something to laugh about. Could he have attempted to give Dallas McAllen something to laugh about in his study that night? And by laugh about, we mean… die about?


Did Dallas McAllen know his sister Audrey McAllen wasn’t really his sister? That the story she told, upon arriving out of the blue, of a maternity test that connected them–both having been orphans–was a falsehood? She thought that deep down he might suspect and that he didn’t care, that their bond since her arrival had grown too strong. And yet, recently, he’d discovered something related to her past. She heard as much secondhand, from Hal Dempling, the washed-up professional bowler who frequently darkened her faux brother’s door. She didn’t know what he’d found, but she worried that a confrontation might lead to her extraction from his inner circle. Is it possible that she ended his life before he could sever her reliance on him?


Everyone thought Dallas McAllen’s finances to be in order. But then how do you explain his frequent meetings with Vinny Tempori? After all, Vinny’s work for his “family business” involved “loan repayment consultations.” He was at the party that night and was no stranger to violence. Suspicious, isn’t it?


Helen Montgomery, the widow of the founder and CEO of a wet napkins company, needed none of Dallas McAllen’s money. But she never forgave him for what he whispered into to her that night all those years ago, and frankly, seeing him tired her, because each time they met, it reminded her of the indignity his words inspired in her. Yet cutting all ties was not an option. Those wealthy from cleaning products were a tight-knit group. No matter how hard she tried to avoid him, there he always was. So perhaps, being unable to extricate herself from his presence, she sought to extricate him from his earthly form…


The whole thing was insulting to him, really. Adam Seanison was supposed to be the one to move on, to quit his job as a copywriter for Ugh dot com, the e-commerce heir to its founder’s original site, Sweet dot com. After all, he’d published two novels, A Big Ol’ Pile and It’s Out There In The Arctic Landscape Somewhere. Soon enough, he’d be punching his ticket out of this online hellhole, right? Wrong? Instead, he got fired. And for what? A product write-up about a refurbished McAllen steam mop so cheeky and biting that Dallas McAllen himself reached out to his boss and asked for his removal. And now, Adam is stuck doing catering work to pay the bills. Catering work that, just yesterday, brought him to the home of the man who ended his career. Could he have sought the ultimate revenge?


Could it be Enrique LoQuard, the famed living statue that all the billionaires hire to entertain the attendees of their lavish parties, and who’s commitment to the bit requires he be transported in a wooden box to his gigs and moved, by several helpers, into place, where he will stay until they arrive to take him away? And, honestly, follow-up question: are we sure Enrique LoQuard is a living statue, and not just, like, a statue?


Chip MacReynolds, the McAllen estate’s overnight butler, asked for an Addams Family pinball machine to be added to the array of games in the butler lounge. McAllen agreed initially, but no machine ever materialized. Might this be enough to make MacReynolds carry out an act so creepy and cooky as… murder?


Dallas McAllen didn’t have children, so he spoiled his godson Jimmy Stetson instead, all through the boy’s childhood and his adolescence and his teen years. But now Jimmy’s 26 years old, yet he still spends like a child, and on childish things, no less. This is what Dallas McAllen said to him just a month ago while they lunched together at the country club. “I’m tired of paying for your childish pursuits. You’re cut off.” All at once, Jimmy Stetson understood how tenuous a father-son relationship could be with no shared blood. And since Dallas McAllen never rescinded the invitation to his upcoming party, Jimmy attended, perhaps with designs at seeing that blood run forth.


Braden Brandon, Dallas McAllen’s college roommate, had fallen on hard times. They’d graduated from the same university the same year with the same degree and the same desire to revolutionize the cleaning industry. Only, Dallas McAllen had achieved these dreams and Braden Brandon drank himself into incoherence each night after going door to door selling a second-rate de-greasing spray for ovens. Could jealousy have driven him to commit a terrible crime against his old friend?


IRK Sadie Dufresne calls the coroner to check in and see if his examination of the victim has turned up anything new.

“Any updates?” she asks.

“Yes, actually,” the coroner says. “Before he was stabbed with the Illuminated Fall Floral Stake, someone sprayed an excessive amount of Liquid Ass Fart Prank Spray into his eyes and nose.”

“And that could kill a man?” Sadie says.

“No, but hoo-boy would it be gross,” says the coroner.

“Good work, doctor,” Sadie replies. “That’s very helpful information.”


Could it have been marine biologist, Garla Kilshousen? Nope. It couldn’t be. Because the idea of typing Garla Kilshousen a bunch is too frustrating. I mean, shit, I just copied and pasted it that second time there. Which I could do again. But eventually, I’d copy something else. And then I’d paste that by accident. And I’d either catch the mistake and curse it, or I wouldn’t. And then the final scene would be like:

“Fine, you caught me,” says 4-Pack: iHome Smart Dimmable Lighting.

And how embarrassing would that be? Better to just rule her out now and never discuss her again.


Nina Mercedes, Dallas McAllen’s secretary, wanted so badly to own a Mercedes. Then, she could get a vanity plate that said N1N4. It was so perfect, and yet Dallas McAllen refused to give her the raise she would need to buy a new one, saying instead that she should save up for something more affordable, like one from thirty or forty years ago. “But I want to drive it for a long time, and if it’s from the 80s, it’ll die soon,” she argued one day, while they were getting ready to leave the office. “Not necessarily,” Dallas said. “I was around in the 80s, and I don’t plan to die for a long time!” Could Nina have come to the party with the intent of proving her boss wrong?


Dallas McAllen had been married a single time for a single week to a woman named Marge Roper, a bracelet model. They’d just met at a hotel bar, both intoxicated. Things had gotten out of hand. She’d accepted a small sum of money to have the marriage dissolved without any mess. The day after their union was no more, Dallas McAllen’s steam mop company made its initial public offering, turning him from wealthy and successful to filthy rich. Roper attended last night’s party as a caterer, after begging and begging to be put on the job. She claims it was all because she needed the money after a pesky and persistent wrist rash ended her modeling career. But perhaps she was looking for revenge after being lowballed so many years before.


Could it have been golfing buddy Terry Plum, founder of the confusingly named Plum’s Raisins, who asked Dallas McAllen for a loan to procure an extra strong dehydrator, only to be turned down and later find out McAllen had invested in the dried fruit venture of a rival?


Second-rate television presenter Frank Alabaster, an old friend of the deceased, once invited McAllen to be on a special “Titans of Business” episode of Trivia Crunch, which he hosted (but only on Wednesdays and Fridays). He’d hoped that pulling in such a heavy hitter might endear him to the network and earn him the job full-time. But Dallas, having pulled off a successful corporate takeover of another steam mop company that morning, showed up drunk and proceeded to answer each question with an embarrassing anecdote about Alabaster. After that, Alabaster was demoted to just Wednesdays. Though he swears he doesn’t hold it against him, is it possible that he might have been lying so that the billionaire wouldn’t suspect his eventual attack?


Carl Loaf, the McAllen estate’s special butler for leap days only, asked for February 29th off to attend his daughter’s wedding. His request was not granted. Might he have sought to create a different event to attend: the funeral of his boss?


In an upstairs bedroom, IRK Sadie Dufresne finds the sheets ruffled.

She asks Alvin Morlock and Chip McReynolds–the McAllen estate’s evening and overnight butlers respectively–who was staying in the room.

“Nobody officially,” Alvin replies.

“But people were in there,” Chip clarifies.

“Two people, I’d say,” Alvin replies. “Maybe three?”

“And they were in there for hours, by the sounds of it,” Chip says. “Only stopped making noise and slipped out unseen when the police arrived shortly after midnight.”

Clearly, two or more suspects were in this room at the time of the murder, thus freeing them from suspicion. But nobody has come forward to admit as much. Perhaps, it was an affair?

What do you think? Who was in that room?


The fact of her being a failed actress was something that both Leanne Marlane and Dallas McAllen agreed to be true. The issue was a matter of chronology. Dallas argued she’d already been a failed actress when he’d given her a chance, pulling some strings to have her cast in a national McAllen Steam Mop commercial. Leanne would say that she had been, at that point, an up-and-coming actress, one whose rise stopped abruptly when she became the ‘steam mop psycho’ (as she was referred to online) due to a murderous twinkle to her eye as she worked the product over a kitchen floor. The ad was pulled as were offers of further employment. Dallas, for his part, feigned heartbreak at the turn. “Maybe I will make it up to you some day,” he said to her just last week over cocktails, and though slight, he put an emphasis on the word ‘will’ leading Leanne to interpret this as a sign he’d leave her something when he passed. Could it be that she sought to hasten this process by tapping into the same inner rage that had shown through on the commercial all those years ago?


Could it be Gemma Harrilson, who prefers not to be identified by her career choice, thank you very much, and therefore, per the previously established rules of this particular literary world, has no motives, since it seems like everyone else’s potential reason to kill Dallas McAllen involves their job or his?


“Dallas McAllen, your godfather, cut you off recently, financially. Is that correct?” IRK Sadie Dufresne asks Jimmy Stetson.

“Jeez, you get right to the point,” Jimmy Stetson says. “Yeah, that’s correct.”

“And he was overheard saying the reason for doing so was your childish pursuits,” Sadie says. “You were spending money on what? Toys? Candy? Comic books?”

“That was after he cut me off,” Jimmy says, not making eye contact.

“What do you mean?” Sadie says, leaning in.

“I spent a fortune on a single FanMan comic book,” Jimmy says, “but not until after he took away my card and my checkbook and all that. I had to sneak into his account on the auction site to buy the damn thing.”

“So what was it you were pursuing earlier that caused Dallas McAllen to take away your funds?” Sadie asks.

“Not what, IRK Dufrense, but who,” Jimmy Stetson says. “I told him my plan to buy the comic book to win her over, and he said I needed to give up and move on.”

“A rare comic book to woo someone, huh?” Sadie says. “You couldn’t just get some flowers?”

“Absolutely not,” Jimmy Stetson says. “She works with flowers all day.”

“Hattie, the groundskeeper,” Sadie says.

“The keeper of the grounds is how she prefers it, but yeah,” Jimmy says. “She started working at the estate when she was twenty, and I was sixteen. I fell in love with her immediately and promised myself one day when I was older, I’d find a way to show her.”

“And where were you shortly after midnight?” Sadie says.

“Looking for her,” Jimmy says. “So I could give her her the issue and finally tell her how I feel.”

Several other guests confirm as much: Jimmy Stetson was frantically searching the party, waving around a small periodical in a protective sleeve all night. But nobody could account for Hattie’s whereabouts, even though she was supposed to be working.


Westin DuPlane, the McAllen estate’s backup butler for leap days, hasn’t had anything to do for years but must remain in the mansion, just in case. He got wind that Carl Loaf, lead leap day butler, asked for the day off and was refused. This would have been DuPlane’s only chance to show his skills until 2028. Might frustration and boredom pushed him to commit the most vile of crimes?


IRK Dufresne needs to clear her head. She’s confused. She’s frustrated. And moreover, she’s tired.

In the kitchen, she finds the coffee pot full and pours herself a cup. Just one teaspoon of sugar and a splash of cream. That’s how she takes it.

Only, she never gets to the cream.

Because, in the sugar pot, she finds a crumpled-up post-it. At the bottom, a red speck. Could be blood. Could be an ink spill. Sadie’s not sure, and what’s more, she’s not sure about the note’s content either.

It says only, “Mel --> release valve, Dublin?”

Why is it here, she wonders. And what does it mean? And could it be related at all to the murder?


“Honestly, these party nights are terrible for all of us,” says Finley Lancested, the McAllen estate’s afternoon butler, when Sadie Dufresne asks him if he noticed any odd comings and goings. “The ice sculptors, the strobe light installers, the parrot releasers–all day, we’re letting them in and then making sure they’re out in good time so nobody has to see the seams, so to speak. That was the thing with Dallas; he never liked this stuff to seem too meticulously planned. Even having the caterers here was a nuisance enough to him. Especially with the whole van ordeal.”

“The van ordeal,” Sadie repeats.

“Nothing huge, mind you,” says Finley. “Just that they usually have a single van but this time two arrived. It was the usual one, with the logo of the company on the side, and then a really junky one, which I swear, they never even took anything out of. Finding an out-of-the-way place to stash a couple vans on an estate this big’s not hard. Just an unnecessary annoyance on top of everything else.”

(To Be Continued in a later comment…)