There’s nothing quite like setting out on a scavenger hunt. You’ve got a list of items to find and bring the most of them back to take first place. Or relatedly, there are escape rooms, which have become popular in the past decade, where you have to find clues and items to escape a room or rooms.
Famously, undergraduate students at the University of Chicago constructed a homemade breeder reactor within four days, thanks to a seemingly impossible list item. While not every scavenger hunt ends with a nuclear reactor, these competitions can get intense. Sometimes murder is on the list.
Here’s a list of seven mysteries focusing on the world of scavenger hunts and escape rooms.
Murder in the Mystery Suite
Jane Steward wanted to make a splash in her new job as resort manager of Storyton Hall, a Virginia-based bibliophile resort complete with several sumptuous libraries, with Murder & Mayhem Week, complete with a scavenger hunt and a costume ball where everyone dressed up like their favorite characters. It’s a family affair, her great-aunt and great-uncle used to run the place, and her twin boys have joined her.
Things get a little dicey when Jane witnesses a woman fall from her horse and die, while in town. But before she can focus too much on this untimely death, she’s got to get the resort ready for her guests. But when a second corpse shows up, the winner of the Scavenger Hunt, Jane has to put her thinking cap on to figure out why Death has decided to visit. This is the first in the nine installments in the Book Resort Mysteries, with the most recent book published in June 2023.
Three Widows and a Corpse
Hope Early thought that participating in her town’s annual scavenger hunt would be lots of fun and a good break from her food blog, Hope at Home. But she didn’t expect to find the corpse of a man who apparently had three wives, unbeknownst to each other. Now there are three widows and suspects. Hope decides to collect all the clues to solve this terrible recipe of death. It’s the third book in the five-book Food Blogger Mystery Series.
Flat White Fatality
It just made sense that Sage Caplin’s boyfriend Bax would host a company retreat in her roastery for her coffee cart, Ground Rules; the roastery is in the same building as his company Grumpy Sasquatch Studio in Portland Oregon. And who doesn’t love a good company scavenger hunt to build trust and boost morale? That’s until one of Bax’s employees is found dead in the roastery. Now Sage has to get her boyfriend out of hot water since he is one of the main suspects in the man’s death. It’s the third book in the four-book Ground Rules Mysteries series.
All These Beautiful Strangers
We’ve seen a few cozy mysteries that feature scavenger hunts, here’s a thriller to add to the mix. Charlie Calloway just wanted to find a place in her prestigious school, Knollwood in New England. Anything to get away from her past, starting with the disappearance of her mother a decade before. Charlie has the opportunity to join a secret society at the school called the A’s but must complete a semester-long scavenger hunt that will take her to her breaking point. But Charlie soon realizes the past may not be so far off as she thinks.
The Escape Room
We’ve covered scavenger hunts so now we’re going to focus on escape rooms, starting with this thriller.
Four successful financiers, Vincent, Sam, Sylvie, and Jules have been invited to an escape room in an elevator of a tall building for their company. It’s supposed to be a team-building exercise but each wants to one-up each other. Until they learn that someone has outsmarted them all. This is no normal escape room. It’s a trap. The four have to work together if they want to survive. But with each clue, their secrets start to come out. Will any of them escape this punishment or will they all perish?
Four people talk about their experiences with the infamous Quigley House, a full-contact escape room. They are trying to do the impossible: stay in the house overnight and solve the puzzles without yelling the safe word. It’s only been done once. But even the terror-inspiring aspect of the game can’t compete with the real horror: one of the four is murdered in the final room. Told through several points of view going forward and backward in time, the steps toward disaster unfold. Who is killed and why?
No Memes of Escape
After those thrillers, we’ll end on another delightful cozy with the most punny name. Louisiana-born Odessa Dean wants to experience everything she can in Brooklyn, NY before she may have to leave. She’s made new friends, eaten a lot of delicious food, and even won a trophy for a cornhole contest. When Odessa and her new friend Izzy stumble across some of Izzy’s childhood friends, they invite them to participate in an escape room. Odessa leaps at the chance, even if the women are a bit snobby. But when one of the women is found clubbed to death with their trophy, Odessa has to figure out this puzzle so Izzy, the prime suspect, is put in a place she won’t be able to escape for a long time. It’s the second book in the duology a Brooklyn Murder Mystery series.
Featured photo: Suhash Villuri / Unsplash