My original intent was that everybody would be interrogating one another until they realized that none of them were the murderer. I wanted them to have the realization that I was also a possible suspect, and if they came to that conclusion they would solve the murder easily.
That plan failed immediately when, less than ten minutes in, somebody almost jokingly wondered whether I could have been the murderer. Not wanting to simply say "I'm not the murderer" for fear that the possibility would never be considered again. Instead, I reminded them "He was my brother," which was part of the backstory. They immediately wrote this off as "Nobody has ever killed a family member before", which I knew was going to be a problem.
I laid careful hints that none of them was the murderer, but perhaps I was too careful in this regard. The short story that was published on my blog a few days ago was in the perspective of my character, and while it was intended to be ambiguous, it was also supposed to be riddled with clues. The information the narrator is knowledgeable about is a big hint, for example. Further, I impressed on them that my character was doing many things out of protocol, and 'he' admitted he wasn't even the primary investigator of the murder. Lastly, I did extra things, albeit extremely subtle things. Whenever somebody asked an open ended question like "Who would have reason to kill this guy?" I would make a point of staring them in the eyes. Most often we actually did make eye contact, but sadly nothing came of it.
I also intended this to be a party, but instead it turned into a large interrogation circle. It wasn't bad necessarily, but it meant that no 'teams' were formed and suspicions were never really acted upon. In this I discovered that its very easy for somebody to keep a secret when there's no way to really know what is and is not the truth. I suppose I should have expected that, but hindsight teaches us that we are all morons sometimes.
So, after two hours had passed and nobody had really gotten anywhere, everybody 'confessed' to their truths. They admitted everything that they were trying to hide, and when they realized none of them seemed to be the murderer, they looked at me confused. I basically said "My bad, I guess none of you are the murderer" and they all that moment of realization I wanted them to have an hour before that suddenly clicked in everyone's heads. They had been asking the wrong questions and the wrong people, which I completely admit was at least partly my fault. But hey, the main purpose of this was to teach through entertainment, and I think that bar had been set rather satisfactorily.
Coming out of this, though, I can't help but feel as though I cheated. I gave them clues, yes, but I wanted this to be on the easy side. I wanted the murder to be solved, not to reveal it at the end. I know there was some way I could have made myself a more visible target, but oh well. I don't regret anything I did. I'm actually pretty proud of all of the hints I dropped everywhere, even if they were too subtle for anyone other than me to understand. Besides, if ever there was a time to cheat by making the murderer 'not exist', the first time is it. This went over well because nobody really knew what to expect. It would have been far more difficult to make myself the murderer without cheating later on, after we had done this sort of thing a few times.
All-in-all, I had a blast. I am quite introverted. I don't really take part in conversations between groups of larger than three, but in something like this, I don't really have to participate. I simply get to watch everybody have fun, and watching people I like enjoy themselves is satisfactory enough. I think I've earned the right to host this sort of party again. Next time, though, I have plans to make it better. Not more people and more difficult clues, obviously, but rather I plan on making it more interactive. People will have more information to buy and trade next time. I think that will work a little more smoothly, if nothing else.