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[Let's Play (Read?)] Storytrails #1 Invitation to Murder
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Whom do you suspect to be the murderer?
Judge Hannibal Baines
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Mervyn Jackson, Prosecuting Counsel
16%
 16%  [ 1 ]
Miss Agatha Smith, Chief Witness
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
George Harper, Foreman of the Jury
16%
 16%  [ 1 ]
McNab, Scottish Police Officer
50%
 50%  [ 3 ]
Frank Clapper, Mysterious Guest of Unknown Background
16%
 16%  [ 1 ]
Total Votes : 6

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Darth Rabbitt
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Dick's armed and there's only one person left. Go down.
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Starmaker
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Darth Rabbitt wrote:
Dick's armed and there's only one person left. Go down.

I seriously doubt that. If anything,
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However, I have no idea which option is less likely to have us preemptively shot.
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Darth Rabbitt
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2016 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Good point. I still stand that going down is more likely to be helpful.
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SGamerz
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2016 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
I tried all of the store rooms. They looked just as they should. The one that I couldn't try was the one in which Harper's body had been locked. It was still locked and I remembered that McNab had the key. He must have taken it with him and there was no way that I could get it now.

The only other place in the basement was the swimming pool. I couldn't think that anyone would be hiding there, but if I tried it, that would be the end of the search.

I opened the door and switched on the rows of lights. The place was empty, as I expected. The water was very still and, with the lights reflected from the surface, looked like a sheet of silver.

I thought that I had now been right round the building and, at least, I hadn't found anyone.

I began to switch off the lights, until only one row remained. I glanced back at the pool. With most of the lights off, there wasn't the same reflection from the water and I could see down into it with its lining of blue tiles.

I could also see something else, a dark shape under the water on the side farthest away from me.

I walked round to the other side of the pool and looked down into the water. Lying on the bottom was a body. It was Miss Smith!

I had no means of knowing how long she had been there, but there was no doubt that she was dead. I felt my stomach going into a knot, and a tightness in my throat. It wasn't just the shock of finding another body. It was knowing that Miss Smith could not be the murderer.

Who had fired the shot that had started the avalanche? If it was Miss Smith, then who had killed her, and what was her body doing back at the hotel?

I wasn't sure what to do. The body was lying at the shallow end of the pool. Should I leave it there and go back to the lounge, or try to get it out?


So much for hoping to find an ally....

The indoor swimming pool is mentioned only in one other section in the book before this one (we didn't go through that). Weirdly, it's when

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Do we want to check out another dead body?
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Darth Rabbitt
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2016 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

On one hand we'll be vulnerable while carrying her body, on the other hand she might have a clue on her. I guess I'll go with checking the body.
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2016 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

At this point I'm more concerned about the vulnerability than the clues. Lounge.
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Darth Rabbitt
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2016 3:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

That's a good point. Wait at the lounge for McNab the killer to show up.
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SGamerz
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2016 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
I had often waited in hotel lounges. It was the first time that I had waited for a murderer who I knew was looking for me.

The first warning that I got was the sound of footsteps out in the reception area, but they were no ordinary footsteps. It was the sound of someone dragging one leg, someone moving very slowly in my direction.

I took the gun out of my pocket and walked very quietly to the doorway of the lounge. I could see the whole of the reception area, but it appeared to be empty. My eye caught a slight movement to my left. Someone was standing behind one of the pillars.

I shouted. 'Who's there?'

There was no reply.

I took a few paces forward. It was Clapper. He was leaning against the pillar, his face covered in blood. He was using one arm to support himself. The other hung at his side with a meat cleaver grasped in the hand.

I stood, staring at him.

He saw me, raised himself from the pillar and started to move towards me. I could see that he moved with great difficulty and that the bottom half of one trouser leg was also soaked in blood.

I raised my gun.

'No closer!' I told him, 'and for a start, you can drop that meat cleaver.'

He stopped, but he didn't drop the cleaver. He was trying to speak, but his lips were so cut and swollen that I could not understand what he was trying to say.

'The cleaver first,' I said. 'There'll be plenty of time for talking, later.'

I thought that he was going to drop it, then, quite suddenly, he straightened up, his whole body tensed. My fingers tightened on the trigger of the gun. Clapper had raised his meat cleaver in the air!

Did I pull the trigger, or didn't I?


Well, here's our car crash survivor....but is he the murderer, too?

Okay, this is clearly the climax of the book, so other than voting whether to shoot Clapper or not, I'd like to see if any of you worked out the big mystery:

Who is the murderer?

(Note: I'd be away for the next couple of days....)
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Darth Rabbitt
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2016 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Don't shoot. Clapper is trying to tell us about the real killer and refuses to put down his weapon until they are stopped.

I think McNab is the killer. He's the one who produced the recording and he reported just about every kill he was present to report. Haven't figured out how he took out the judge but he's been in a perfect position to kill literally everyone else who's died so far. He blocked out the warning Jackson was trying to make and he gave the gun to Miss Smith after firing it to frame her. Apparently he likes passing this gun off to other people, presumably to shift blame from him.
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MisterDee
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2016 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

First, I'm going to assume that everyone is who they say they are. We've seen no clue that would point us to an impostor being among us. I imagine that the person who invited us here played their part in the trial, and found out later that Lane was their father or some similar bullshit.

Miss Smith is dead - we saw her body.

Jackson's body is missing. We never really had a chance to examine it, although if it turns out he's alive, I'll call shenanigans (McNab, Harper and we were involved in carrying the body back inside, so if nobody noticed the guy was still alive...) Plus if he's the murderer, then McNab lied when he said he was sure he was dead.

Harper was supposedly shot, but nobody saw the shooting happen. Also, his body was heavier than it looked. That said, while the shooting was messy, we have no indication that we couldn't see his face or whatever. So I think we can assume it was really him.

Still, there are some body swapping shenanigans involved - which is why I think McNab is a red herring. He sends us to bring the Harper's body to the storeroom where Jackson's body was kept - why would he give us that opportunity to see that the body was stolen? Also, giving us the gun is pointless if he knows that after he gets rid of Clapper, we're the only victim left to kill. Finally, if he's the killer, there's no need for the body-swapping subplot. Also, we know he didn't kill the judge since we were right there with him when the judge died.

Clapper is a tempting choice if we assume McNab is not the murderer. He certainly had the opportunities to kill people. In that case, I imagine he would have used the body to fake being in the bar while he killed Harper. That said, how the hell did he get injured if he is the murderer? And like McNab, we know he didn't kill the judge.

My guess is that the judge is our guilty party. Like pretty much everybody else, he had the opportunity to kill everyone (at first I thought he couldn't have murdered Jackson, because at the time Miss Smith was with him, but the text makes a point of telling us no one had a perfect alibi for Jackson's murder.)

My guess is he took Jackson's body, dressed it in red, and chucked it down the mountain to fake his death. The crack wasn't a rifle shot, it was some explosives that set off the decoy avalanche. He sabotaged the cable car the night prior.

----

So, don't shoot friend Clapper.
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MisterDee
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2016 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Also, in order, my runner-up theories.

1-It's McNab and I'm just assuming there's a twist ending, while the murderer was in plain sight all along.
2-It's Jackson (or Harper) and everyone in that hotel is too dumb to see that someone isn't dead.
3-It's Clapper.
4-It's Miss Smith who's actually an undead monster.
5-It's us.

EDIT: theory 1.5: it's a conspiracy and more than one person is involved, at which point I would guess McNab and Smith, with McNab killing Smith after she shot the judge and he sent Clapper to die?
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SGamerz
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
I hesitated. Clapper was still holding the meat cleaver in the air, but he was trying again to speak. He made a sign at me with his other hand.

I understood - just in time! I ducked my head, the cleaver whistling past me as he threw it. There was a cry behind me, and a shot. I spun round.

Judge Hannibal Baines was standing near to the bottom of the main staircase and clutching his shoulder. The red ski clothes didn't hide the blood that was pouring from it. A rifle was lying on the floor where he had dropped it. He moved to pick it up.

'No!' I shouted.

I was still holding my pistol and I stepped back so that both Clapper and the judge were in front of me. I was anything but certain of what was happening. Clapper found his voice.

'Not me, you fool! Him! Baines! Baines is your murderer!'

'He's mad!' said Baines. 'Look at him! If you want to know where I got the rifle, I found it on the snow when I was climbing back to the hotel. I'm sure it's the same one that was fired at me and started the avalanche.'

He had said the one thing that proved Clapper's innocence. Clapper was standing right next to me when that shot was fired. I gave Clapper the pistol. I still wasn't sure about the judge, but there was one way to find out.

I walked just far enough from the hotel to be able to see down to the bottom of the avalanche. It was still there, the body dressed in red ski clothes. I had no doubt that it was Jackson's body and that Judge Hannibal Baines was our murderer.

Baines, or Lane as we now call him, was bleeding badly where the cleaver had hit him. It was more than Clapper or I could patch up. He needed hospital treatment, and he knew it. With the game up, and his own life in danger, he was more than willing to tell us where he had cut the telephone line. Within the hour I was speaking to Felsdorf.


Kudos to MisterDee, for not only identifying the murderer, but also getting most of the details right!

Quote:
McNab was alive. He had jumped seconds before the car had crashed. He had a broken leg and several cracked ribs. Clapper had a bullet hole through the calf of his leg, a lot of cuts and bruises and slight concussion. Both would recover.

It was now possible to piece the story together.

The real Judge Hannibal Baines has been killed in England and Lane had taken his place. He had killed Jackson first because he was the only one to have seen the real judge without his robes and wig. Jackson had tried to leave a clue by starting to draw an elephant. The most famous Hannibal of all times was the general who took his elephants over the Alps to defeat the Roman Army in 218 B.C.

Miss Smith had accidentally caught Lane as he shot Harper. He had pushed the gun into her hand, run back to his rooms and come out again as McNab was leaving his to see what the shooting was about.

Lane had taken Jackson's body. Poor Miss Smith, afraid that she was going to be accused of the murders, had run off. For the second time, she had caught Lane, this time dressing Jackson's body in red ski clothes. He had strangled her, putting her body in the hotel swimming pol.

When he had set off on skis, he had already hidden Jackson's body and a rifle, just out of our sight. Lane had fired the rifle and pushed Jackson's body down the mountain. The avalanche was a lucky bonus. Lane had come back to the hotel while the rest of us were busy near the car.

As the car moved off, Lane had shot Clapper, the sound of the shot covered by the clatter of the bolt coming loose. The bullet had gone through Clapper's leg, but he had fallen, striking his head on the platform and lain, unconscious, beneath it. Lane thought he was dead. He also thought that McNab had been killed in the crash.

Clapper had come to under the platform. He had seen Lane fire the shot at him. He had got the meat cleaver from the kitchens and arrived just in time to stop Lane from shooting me.

It would have been a pity if I had shot the wrong man!


It would have been a pity, but at least we wouldn't have lived to regret it....

So, he arranged to have 7 guys murdered, but only managed 3 (okay, 4, because he got the real Judge earlier). Not that impressive, in retrospect!

Congratulations for reaching the most successful ending and solving the mystery!

Hope you guys have enjoyed this play(read)through? I'll be posting some of the stuff we missed tomorrow (there's not much of it, because of how short this book is). If there's enough of you who like this series, I may do another one or two before going back to FF, since they don't take too long. Let me know if you're still interested!
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MisterDee
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

That was entertaining. I'd like to see more.
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SGamerz
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So...regarding the things we missed out, as mentioned there are very few of significant notes.

The first time I played this, I did make It to the best ending, although I wasn't able to figure out the murderer until I turned to the ending section. Like many of you here, I suspected McNab for quite some time. Certainly a lot of things were there to throw suspicion on him, probably deliberately on the author's part: he was the one who found Jackson's body, he was the one who made it a point to mention that no one is above suspicion...including the Judge (who was recognized by two other people) because the one person to knew the Judge best was conveniently killed; and of course, he held the key to the storeroom, where the body was stolen. I even felt that his name looked too fake to be legit (c'mon a cop named McNab?) Tongue

Then something happened to make him look far less suspicious to me....because I chose to take the cable car along with McNab instead of staying at the hotel. Of course, neither of us were aware that Clapper had fallen off before the car started, so when it started to swing out of control, and McNab realized that Clapper was not on top of the car, he would open the door and tell us to jump to safety....in fact, he tries to push us out himself.

There is an option whether to trust his judgment and let him push us out....or try to push him out. Doing the latter leads to one of the bad endings of this book, where we're killed in the crash before we can jump ourselves.

Of course, jumping out lands us in the snow and actually leaves us unscathed (so than we can go back to the hotel and continue the story), as the thick snow cushions our fall.

Since, in the above scenario, McNab obviously saved our lives, I found it hard to suspect him to be the killer. Besides, since he could only have jumped after us, he couldn't have been the one to have heated up the coffee machine. By the time I got back to the hotel, my suspicion were on Clapper (like most of you here, I saw Miss Smith as an obvious red herring....and that is confirmed when I then found her body in the pool).

Of course, then Clapper shows up all bloodied and badly injured, which caused me to decide not to shoot him. The judge being the killer did caught me off guard though.

Choosing not to get Miss Smith out of the pool was probably the better option, because doing so basically gives the murderer one more attempt to kill us. While we're in the pool, the murderer went into the plant rool next door and opened one of the cylinders to release lots of chlorine gas into the room to poison us. If we try to get out via the door we came in by, we'd find it lock, and die before we can reach the other door (which leads to the final encounter with Clapper).

There's only one other significant section that we missed. If we chose not to search the basement, we would instead sit in the lounge and try to re-think the whole case from the beginning. It would strike us then that the person whom we thought was a drunken Clapper in the bar during Harper' murder could well have been Jackson's body (although that conjecture turn out to be a red herring too, as we found out).

We would also try to recall what Jackson was trying to draw I the snow, and there's a picture provided there:



We now know that he was trying to draw an elephant, although looking at it for the first time can be pretty hard to decipher.

To sum up, these are the remaining possible "bad endings":

#1: Die in cable car crash after pushing McNab out, as mentioned above.

#2: Survive the fall from the cable car, but decided to try and get back to Felsdorf instead of back to the hotel. We survive, but never solve the mystery. When the rescue team reach the hotel, they only find Harper's body. Everybody else has disappeared.

#3: Poisoned by chlorine gas in the pool room, as mentioned above.

#4: After recalling the picture drawn by Jackson, we decide to try to leave the hotel and descend the mountain ourselves (we can also decide to stay in the lounge to confront the murderer instead, and will then run into Clapper). The murderer catches up with us and shoots us. We're not told who it is, but we do get a clue, as on our way down, we'd stop and turn over the dead body dressed in red to look at it. Our character knows who the murderer is, but the reader isn't told (obviously, this is for replay value).

#5: We shoot Clapper in the reception area, the real murderer shoots us. Again, the reader isn't told who it is, although the character finds out (too late).

On the whole, like I said before, I thought this was a great introduction to the series, although I do think the ending section feels a bit rushed, and I was hoping for some more details of how the whole was carried out like most mystery novels would do. Stuff like how Lane managed to steal Jackson's body, how he arranged to have all the hotel stuff removed (although if he was secretly the owner of the hotel he'd be able to do both easily), why Jacksons didn't immediately identify the fake Judge, and how Lane was able to take shelter from the avalanche if he hadn't planned on it. On the whole though, I thought the aura of suspense and mystery was maintained very well throughout the book.

Anyway, regarding the next book I'm going to run, I'm going to list most of the ones I have (taking out a few that I think aren't very good, and two of those that Darth mentioned he already owns: Books #3 & 4).

Allen Sharp really tried to experiment with various different themes and genre in the first few books. Book 1 is a crime/detective mystery, in Book 2 he tried Sci-fi and Time Travel; Book 3 was more of a hard-boiled action James Bond-style (with the PC being a Eurintel agent also working with the CIA), Book 4 is a thriller involving a haunted house, and Book 6 he attempted a foray into sword-and-sorcery fantasy.

Towards the later books, he mostly stuck to the mystery/suspense/thriller theme, although here's still considerable variations in terms of settings as well as switching between the supernatural and the more mundane crime thrillers. He also seems to like researching on certain more obscure historical records or old legends and writing a story around those.

So......see if you'd be interested in any of these below, and let me know.....

Book 6: The Stone of Badda

As mentioned, this is Sharp's one, and I believe only, foray into sword-and-sorcery fantasy. The PC isn't a typical wandering adventurer though, just someone who's trying to free his home valley from Ice Demons and eternal winder. He also has a talking raven for a friend, and following its advise, he learned that the only way to banish the Ice Demons is to seek out magic stone crated by the great magician Badda, and to find those stones he has to travel into the Underworld, the land of the dead. Oh, and the stone is split into 7 pieces, each with its own guardian.

Book 9: The Dirty Dollars

The setting is America in the 1860s (1867 to be precise), when the country is still restless from the aftermaths of the Civil War. A Chicago cattler is trying to build a railway to ship to open up a trail for cattle traders. Someone is trying to sabotage the building of the railway, and the Pinkerton Detective Agency was engaged to investigate. As the nephew of the Founder of Pinkerton, the PC decided to take up the case personally (against his uncle's wishes!).

Book 12: Return of the Undead

The PC went on a trip to Romania with 2 of his friends. After losing their way in some isolated locale, they took refuge in an old house. As you can probably guess from the title, one of them gets attacked by a vampire, and the PC must help rid the local village of the vampire to safe his friend.

Book 15: Shadow over the Marsh

It is 1740 England, when smuggling was a rampant trade. The PC is a young child/teen, raised by his uncle and aunt (who're also involved in the trade, along with just about everyone in the rural village) who's been having a mysterious recurring nightmare that seems to tied to a silver chain that he wears as well as some deep hidden secret of his past that he cannot quite recall. In order to reach the best ending, he must uncover that secret.

Book 19: Sherlock Homes: The Meyringen Papers.

Allen Sharp attempts to reconstruct and combine two mysteries into one as the PC, who's the son of a small hotel owner in Meyringen, Switzerland, when he comes across a photograph and various other clues that hint at what really happened at the Reichenbach Falls between the great detective Sherlock Holmes and his arch-nemesis Moriarty.....eventually to be recorded by our PC, and the incomplete (burnt) records eventually discovered by a researcher after World War II to be known as the "Meyringen Papers". (The story takes place when Sherlock was still officially presumed "dead" by the public.)

*Those of you who are familiar with Sherlock Holmes' stories know, of course, that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gave his canon version of what happened at the Falls in the story of Sherlock Holmes' return. Well, Allen Sharp has his own version of what really happened....and also gave an explanation of why Holmes later told a different story.

Book 20: The Dark Awakening

After most of his family got struck by flu just before Christmas, the PC and his younger brother were sent along with 2 teenage friends to spend the Christmas in an old farmhouse in the countryside (away from the sick people). One of the friends designed a video game involving you hunting down a witch who takes the form of a toad. Weird things start happening as the monster moves out of the screen, and the younger brother starts acting strangely. Can they survive the nightmares at the farm?

Book 22: The Busting of Frankie Da Mora

1920s America, Chicago was dominated by gang wars between (real) mob bosses Al Capone and Hymie Weiss. The PC's father runs a small dry cleaning shop and had to pay protection money like everyone else. One day, he couldn't pay, and his hand got forced into the steam press. The PC seeks revenge against the mobsters....and most importantly, against Frankie Da Mora, who was the right0hand henchman of Hymie Weiss.

Book 24: Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Dancing Bees

Sherlock Holmes has officially retired by the time of World War II, and has taken up Beekeeping at Fulworth Cove. The young PC (again as a child/teenager), as it happens, is a neighbor of his, and shares his interest beekeeping, allowing him to form a friendship with the retired detective. One day he found some mysterious markings on the beach and suspects that they are connected with the recent string of British troopships sunk by German U-boat.

Book 25: Death's Drum

This one has one of the most unique format, since it switches between normal (still 1st person) narratives and "diary-style" updates, similar to the style Bram Stoker used in "Dracula" (although in this book the diary entries are all from the PC's point of view). Supposedly, some of those are legit copies of diaries taken from old documents that supposedly belong to a passenger on the ship HMS Valiant, one of the ships in the English naval fleet during the Napoleonic Wars. This particular ship never made landfall, and the fate of its passengers remain a mystery. Allen Sharp has, of course, added his own fictional diary updates as well to form up a more complete story, but he has differentiated the "legit" diary copies in the book by putting them in italics (while those written by himself are in normal font print).

As for the plot, it's also a murder mystery. A string of deaths have occurred on the ship, and before each death, the "Death's Drum" was heard. The PC (writer of the diary) is the son of a surgeon and a passenger of the ship, and looks to solve to mystery and hopefully prevent the next death from occurring.


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