A typical murder mystery dinner format will involve a victim, a co-ordinator (usually a policeman or detective character) and around four suspects. The audience must try to establish method, motive and murderer. As the evening progresses participants will have the opportunity to question the suspects and they will find that each had a relationship with the victim that included a reason why they might want to see them gone.
During the first scene each of the suspects will have had an interaction with the victim which will have given them a method. Often the method is poison and the audience will have to establish whether the suspect had access to that poison and how they might have given it to the victim. Over the course of the dinner a case will build up. Usually all of the four suspects has method and motive and the participants have to guess who is the most likely murderer given the evidence in front of them.
There is one technique that can be employed very effectively. For the murder mystery format to work one rule must be observed; only the murderer is allowed to lie. One way of flushing this out is to ask each suspect outright ‘Why did you murder [victim]?’ If the suspect is innocent he or she might reply ‘I didn’t’ while the actual murderer will have to use cunning to avoid detection. You can actually use this as a process of elimination if you have an inexperienced team of actors.
More experienced teams will have this covered, with innocent suspects trained to answer with open responses, for example; What makes you think I killed him?’
So, when you attend a murder mystery dinner base your strategy around finding the liar. Further information can be found at the Murder Mystery website.