Welcome to Post Mortem!  This is where Master Mystery Productions looks back on the performance of its most recent show.

On February 11, the first show of our 2017 season got underway as Bakersfield received the world premiere of Murder at the Broken Heart Mine, the 11th Master Mystery Production presented in partnership with Writers of Kern.  Audiences searched for murderer with nothing more than a few scant clues and a map to guide them to try and decipher the puzzle of the skull found in the “Tunnel of Love” mine shaft.

A full house–our favorite kind!


We had a wild time, as wild as the Old West that served as part of our inspiration.  Wrangling ten teams is no mean feat, but the air was filled with laughter as friends greeted friends and our audience built to epic proportions.  It was one of our largest groups yet.  But soon, over 70 people got to enjoy dinner courtesy of Hodel’s and the beautiful tables decorated with custom centerpieces designed by Master Mystery Productions were filled with friendly chatter as tablemates bonded into teammates.

Centerpiece for the Panamint City table.  Can you spot the silver vein?

Each table was named after real ghost towns from the Old West.  We had Calico, Panamint City, Goldfield, Skidoo, Bodie, Vulture City, Bannack, Cactus Springs, Rhyolite, and Tombstone. Our decor reflected the Western theme with bandanas, gingham, Mason jars, burlap, wood grain, and little hints of silver vein to echo Stardust City’s silver-mining past.  These became the ten teams who competed to solve the crime.  Each started with a great, big “YEE-HAW!!!” to get us into the boomtown spirit.

The Crime Scene Evidence Table
Team Vulture City studying the skull.

First things first, the teams needed to study the Crime Scene Evidence.  The skull of the murdered woman, a shirt collar with an elephant pin, a shovel with hair and blood on it, and mysterious threads found in the skeleton’s fingers.  Along with some cryptic documents ranging from Stardust City publicity to notes found inside dynamite boxes, the clues caused some initial confusion among the teams.  But combined with the maps they received which showed the layout of Stardust City AND the notable people who visited it, threads started to form and the teams were ready to interrogate the panel of experts.

Souvenir Map Interior
The lucky Facebook Clue winners study the evidence they won.

Murder at the Broken Heart Mine also had two unique features.  The winners of our Facebook Bonus Clue Challenge won the chance to study a free clue at the expert stations–in this case, a map of the Broken Heart Mine itself.  And three random teams were awarded Claim Jumps, special silver tickets which they could redeem only once for one of three things: 1) To get a free clue at the expert stations without needing to ask a question.  2) To earn an advantage won by another team during a Bonus Clue Challenge (“jumping their claim”).  3) To waive a disadvantage that might be thrown to them during the game such as penalties.  This allowed for more interesting tactical play.

A Claim Jump ticket.

There were questions abound!  Who did the skull belong to?  What was the big Boomtown scandal?  What treasure went missing?  All of this had to be elucidated by our teams over the course of the mystery.  Several plot twists and Bonus Clue Challenges made things more interesting and revved up the tension.  Was there for a forgery?  Who made a very intriguing confession?  What evidence would teams earn by adroit questioning?  Because only the right question asked at the right station would yield evidence.  Needless to say, we were kept very busy all night.

Searching the dynamite box.
Asking the right questions gets you the right answers.  And always take notes.
Team Tombstone studies some evidence they won.

The Challenges offered some unique opportunities for certain teams to gain an advantage.  Three teams able to estimate the melting point of gold won an extra peek at the Crime Scene.  Two teams–one that was closest to and one that was furthest away from the correct solution–won a Bonus Clue after a midway accusation.  And the lucky team who was able to accurately recall from memory as many tourist sites found in Stardust City (Remember the maps?) won a chance to view an entire evidence folder AND administer a time penalty to another team.

Vulture City won the Final Challenge, but Calico used their Claim Jump to deflect the attempted penalty.  Skidoo and Bannack used their Claim Jumps to secure that prize as well.

Whodunnit?  How?  Why?  The room waits with bated breath as writer/director, Daniel Stallings, reveals the true solution.

At the end of the event, teams had to submit their ballots answering who was the killer, how the crime was accomplished, and why it was committed.  Only one team would walk away as the winner.  Who was the best detective?


Team Vulture City when they learned they won.

It was cheers all around.  Vulture City truly came together as a united team, cheering on their fellow members to victory.  They celebrated as a single unit, proving the power of working together.  They delivered one of the most accurate solutions we at Master Mystery Productions have ever seen.  They swooped in and snatched the prize.  Congratulations everyone for an outstanding performance!

Vulture City poses with their prizes.  Amazing job!

It was a fun, high-spirited, rootin’ and tootin’ time!  We had a lot of fun interacting with the teams and listening to their theories develop.  Thank you to everyone who had a hand in bringing the show to life!

And the congratulations don’t stop there.  A Master Mystery Productions tradition, the Skeleton Key Award for outstanding service and dedication to the current production was awarded to the very deserving Dan McGuire for his help in bring MMP to Bakersfield and Writers of Kern.  His achievement was met with a standing ovation from the audience.

The Skeleton Key Award for Murder at the Broken Heart Mine

Well, we’ve gone Old West.  Now let’s go Old World as we travel to the Left Bank of the Seine in Paris, France during the 1920’s for the twelfth Master Mystery Production.  We’re combining an art show and an interactive murder mystery tea in a glamorous Jazz Age celebration of the bohemian artists in Paris.  Starring a talented cast featuring MMP veterans and award winners, the show invites you to have a cup of tea or a glass of wine at our latest offering…


The show premieres March 25th at 7 p.m. at My Enchanted Cottage and Tea Room in Ridgecrest.  Other show dates are March 31, April 1, and April 8.  Tickets are sold here:

We hope to see you there!

–Master Mystery Productions

6 thoughts on “Post Mortem: MURDER AT THE BROKEN HEART MINE

  1. joanraymondwriting says:


    On behalf of all of us at Writers of Kern, thank you again for an enjoyable evening. We definitely plan to book more shows in the future!

    Joan Raymond, President
    Writers of Kern

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jeannie Johnson says:

    Team Bannock had a blast! Planning a road trip to Ridgecrest for the next production. So happy that Joan Raymond and Writers of Kern want you back because we will be there.


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