The Clue books
In addition to the classic board game
, a number of board game spinoffs (including Clue: The Great Museum Caper
and Simpsons Clue
) and a movie
, at least two book
series based on the Clue
characters were published. One series, Clue Jr.
, focused on the familiar board game characters as children (think Muppet Babies
) who went around solving small mysteries (think Muppet Babies who fight crime!).
The other series preceeded the Clue Jr. books and was more popular. The first Clue series contained 18 books, all of which followed a set pattern: the reader "arrived" at the mansion of Mr. Reginald Boddy, a millionaire with a heart of gold, for the weekend. Mr. Boddy invites his closest friends over to his gigantic home in the (presumably retirement-friendly) Little Falls every weekend, even though most of them are just taking advantage of his generosity and are trying to rob him blind.
Every book begins with an introductory chapter
titled "Allow me to introduce myself..." wherein Mr. Boddy explains the setup (having his friends over for the weekend, etc.), explains how he cheated death in the last chapter of the previous book (more on that later) and, after assuring the reader that despite some incidents
in the past, he doesn't expect anything to go wrong
. He then asks you to keep an eye on his other guests -- just in case.
The introductory chapter is the only part of any of the 18 Clue books that is written in the first person; an omniscient narrator tells the remaining stories. Included in every introduction is a brief description of each character and the one character trait that is most identifiable about them. These traits are important because characters are often only described using them later on, and they are integral to solving the books' various mysteries.
While many of the mini-mysteries are seemingly innocent in nature (actual murder is rarely involved, and when it appears to be, the solution indicates that the character in question didn't actually die), the last one in each book involves someone murdering Mr. Boddy (usually for his money, though sporadically out of rage sometimes brought on due to monetary-related issues). As mentioned, the introductory chapter in the next book is written from Mr. Boddy's point of view, and he explains that he was either knocked unconscious or passed out from fright rather than having actually died. Since the pattern in which Mr. Boddy is "killed" is maintained in the 18th (and thusfar final) book, it can be more or less assumed that he's actually dead (until someone decides to pen #19).
Each "chapter" ends with a question that the reader must answer -- who killed Mr. Boddy? Who stole Miss Scarlet's jewelry? Mr. Boddy's mansion is the same format as the mansion in the board game and has the familiar rooms (the library, conservatory, ball room and so on). The game's classic weapons (the wrench, rope, lead pipe and candlestick, among others) are also involved.
The page after each chapter's last page provides one of the evidence lists that players use in the board game to keep track of eliminated suspects, rooms and weapons. The solution is printed on the following page, but upside down.
While each mini-mystery contains seven characters (Mr. Boddy and his six guests), only the guests are suspects. Mr. Boddy goes to great lengths to assure the reader that he won't participate in any shenanigans
, and it's important to remember that he won't be involved in the solution regardless of how innocent
the mindpuzzle is. One, for instance, required the reader to determine where the guests were sitting at the dinner table
based on a variety of clues.
So who are these
conniving charming individuals? Let's find out:
Colonel Mustard: As his title suggests, Mustard is a military man. Even though he's no longer on active duty, he lives for protocol and his hot temper leads him to challenge people (and even inanimate objects, on occasion) to duels. It goes without saying that he is very easily insulted.
Mrs. Peacock: This lady is a little too prim and proper for most people's liking; she's obsessed with etiquette, lives for modesty and thinks everything is rude. Of course, she doesn't necessarily think that stealing is particularly rude as long as she's the one benefitting from it.
Mr. Green: Green being the colour of both money and envy, Mr. Green isn't short on either. He's described as a businessman who would cheat anyone -- even his own mother -- for the sake of a quick dollar. He can be particularly bossy and short-tempered when he doesn't get what he wants, which is usually money. He's also vain.
Professor Plum: The most intellectual of Mr. Boddy's frequent guests, Professor Plum is also a tremendous scatterbrain. He often forgets things from one moment to the next, from where he left his keys to which mansion room a construction team left a gigantic bomb in.
Miss Scarlet: A vain beauty whose love of money is surpassed only by her love of herself (and possibly jewelry). She is also the most jealous of the characters and is the most likely to commit a crime of passion.
Mrs. White: Not so much a guest as a staff member, Mrs. White is Mr. Boddy's maid. She is a master of doublespeak and is very talented at being sociable to her boss and his guests to their faces while making snide remarks behind their backs. She knows the mansion and its owner better than any of the other suspects.
For books that deal with, among other things, murder, theft and betrayal, the Clue books are certainly lighthearted. They capture and maintain the spirit of the original board game and are far more faithful to it than the film or even the Clue Jr. books. The writing is light and even humorous, and the solutions go beyond the simple "answer" for each mystery; they provide some (often amusing) insight into the events that surrounded the revelations. For instance, in one (admittedly less grave
) mini-mystery, the reader must determine which of Mr. Boddy's mother's old hats each guest is wearing after he has them keep swapping. The solution not only provides the answer, but explains that Mr. Boddy took a photo of the outfitted guests and threatened to have it printed in the local paper if they ever tried to rob him again.
Since the last of these books was published in 1997, they are difficult to find in mainstream bookstores and are safe to deem out of print
. Used copies can be purchased through reputable booksale websites (Amazon, for instance) and possibly on eBay
. I was recently two books short of the whole set when I found the remaining books on Amazon for less than $2 each
Otherwise, there's no telling what you might find at a used bookstore.
Yes, I have the whole set. No, I'm never getting rid of them. I bought the first two at a school book fair
; they were packaged together. I bought the rest individually over time and finished the set earlier this year. They now live happily on my bookshelf
next to the likes of Virginia Woolf
and George Orwell
. Sometimes I still dig them out; they make me smile.