Subscription Spotlight: Deadbolt Mystery Society

Hello everyone! Today I’m bringing attention to a non-bookish box that I only recently subscribed to: Deadbolt Mystery Society. If you want to take a look at my last product spotlight post, you can check out my post about Bubbles & Books here.

What is Deadbolt Mystery Society?

You can visit their website for more info, but I’ll try to give you the basics.

Deadbolt Mystery Society is a US subscription service that sends you a packaged mystery every month. In each box, you’ll receive several papers and a few small props that have puzzles for you to solve. Many of the papers have QR codes that will link you to password-protected websites. You’ll need to put together the clues that you get from the box materials in order to figure out what each password is to move you further along.

You can purchase a one-time box if you want to just try it out, but there are also 4 subscriptions options if you’re looking for something more long term. I’ll list the prices (not including shipping) below.

  • Month-to-month: $26.99
  • 3 month prepay: $75.99
    • $4.98 savings from month-to-month
  • 6 month prepay: $146.99
    • $14.95 savings from month-to-month
    • $4.99 savings from 3 month prepay
  • 12 month prepay: $283.99
    • $39.89 savings from month-to-month
    • $19.97 savings from 3 month prepay
    • $9.99 savings from 6 month prepay

Their website recommends 1-4 people working together on one box and gives an age recommendation of 13+. Each box is a standalone so it’s not like other subscriptions (i.e. Hunt a Killer) where you need to wait for multiple boxes to complete the story.

Socials

The Deadbolt Society is active on several social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Facebook

Their Facebook is probably the most useful of their social platforms because it is there that you can find a community of fellow subscribers to work with. Should you find yourself stuck on any of the puzzles, you can always check The Deadbolt Society’s website for the official PDF hints, but you are also encouraged to join the Facebook hint group for collaborative work with actual human beings.

Rob and I have personally never used any of the hint files nor the Facebook group, but I can imagine that we’ll eventually need a hint one of these days!

Instagram

You can find updates about boxes and limited time deals on the company’s Instagram page. Occasionally they have contests on there for their followers to have a chance to win fun prizes.

Twitter

I was honestly shocked to learn that The Deadbolt Society has a Twitter that is still active! So many subscription boxes that I subscribe to have Twitter accounts that haven’t been active for years. It seems weird to be that these companies wouldn’t use Twitter since I consider it one of the best platforms for getting out updates quickly and efficiently.

My Opinion

The background story for how I learned about this box is actually kind of interesting. My partner and I used to subscribe to a similar mystery box called Sleuth Kings (you can see my spotlight for that here). Last year, however, the person behind Sleuth Kings announced that he was no longer going to be continuing it on a monthly basis. We had already bought up all of the Sleuth Kings archive, so with no new boxes coming in, we were out of options.

Something that I began noticing, however, was that my neighbor downstairs had started receiving Hunt a Killer boxes every month. One day when I ran into him by the elevator, I decided to ask him if he would recommend it since we were on the market for a mystery subscription box. He basically said no (LOL) and recommended that we try this one instead! Long story short, we decided to try it, and we love it! We have officially found our new mystery subscription box and couldn’t be happier with our neighbors suggestion.

The boxes are standalones—which I love—and they each have a fun storyline that adds to the atmospheric feeling of the mystery. I should warn you though that some of the storylines are particularly gruesome/tragic, so I wouldn’t recommend this for children.

Unboxing Photos

Here are some unboxing photos I’ve taken of the boxes we’ve worked on so far! If you’re interested, I hope you’ll check them out!

Subscription Spotlight: Bubbles & Books

Hello everyone! Today I’m bringing attention to one of the book boxes that I subscribe to: Bubbles & Books. If you want to take a look at my last product spotlight post, you can check out my post about Sleuth Kings here.

What is Bubbles & Books?

You can visit their website for more info, but I’ll try to give you the basics.

The January Bubbles & Books standard box (taken from my bookstagram)

Bubbles & Books is an international book box subscription service that sends you a package every month. There are three levels of subscription (each level adds to the previous) which changes what you receive. I’ll go over those below.

Level 1: Digital Bubbles

This is the cheapest subscription level option that Bubbles & Books offers. If you choose this level, you’ll receive 3-5 bath products and access to 5+ free eBook downloads every month. The way the eBooks work with Bubbles & Books is that you get a URL in each box that leads you to free Kindle deals. I prefer physical books to eBooks and my TBR is already crazy, so I’ve only taken advantage of these deals once, but I think I downloaded like 10 from that one URL.

Level 2: Standard (my subscription level)

Since this is the first option when you go to subscribe, I think this is the most popular level. Every month you receive 3-5 bath products, one new release paperback, and access to 5+ free eBook downloads.

With the Standard and Premium packages, you get to choose the genre of the books you want to receive. If you ever want to change genres, all you have to do is email them to let them know. I’ve tried 3 out of 4 genres so far so they’re probably just like PICK SOMETHING ALREADY 😂

The genres you can choose from are: Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance, Historical Romance, and Mystery/Thriller.

Level 3: Premium

This is the highest level of subscription that Bubbles & Books offers. With this level you get two new release paperbacks in the genre of your choice, 5-7 bath products, and access to 5+ free eBook downloads. This level was a bit too expensive for me to want, but whenever I see unboxing photos of people at this level I get super jealous.

Extra Info

Bubbles & Books also has an Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and membership rewards system. (They have a Twitter but their last tweet was 2018 so I don’t think it’s active.) I’ll go through (and link) these below.

Instagram (@bubbles_books_box)

Instagram is where I have basically all of my interactions with the Bubbles & Books team. They post updates on sales, upcoming boxes, and upcoming events. They also repost their subscribers’ unboxing photos so you can always see what books/items other subscribers have recently received.

Facebook

If you’re a subscriber, you can access their Facebook group where they throw fun events. In fact they’re throwing a Facebook Live sale tomorrow. I’m not a part of the Facebook group because all my bookish stuff is done through Twitter and Instagram, but if you use Facebook for your bookish things, definitely check it out!

Pinterest

I have absolutely no idea how Pinterest works so I can’t give you much info on this one, but if you’re into using Pinterest, you can check them out there as well. Here’s what their page looks like.

Rewards System

At some point (I honestly don’t remember when) I received the following rewards card in one of my boxes:

How this works is that every month they send you a Bubbles & Books sticker that you put in the circles on this card. Every time you hit one of those golden circles, you email or post a picture of it and they’ll give you a reward.

I forgot about this for a long time so I actually just sent pictures of me hitting the 3 month and 6 month benchmarks to their email address. I can’t wait to see what the extra special something is!

My Opinion

I am a HUGE fan of this box. I have several bookish subscriptions and it’s very rare that for a book box to allow the customers to have so many choices (in terms of genre and subscription level). As I mentioned before, I’ve already taken advantage of their option to switch genres at any point and I’m extremely grateful for that. I’m currently subscribed to Contemporary Romance and I think I found the genre for me. I still haven’t tried Historical Romance yet but that’s mostly because Historical Romances tend to have themes that are upsetting for me personally.

On top of the customization for this box, I really enjoy interacting with the Bubbles & Books team on Instagram. They’re very active in liking and commenting on all of my unboxing photos, and when one of my boxes had the wrong book, they were quick to apologize and make things right. Honestly if they offered me a job I’d be so down 😂

Unboxing Photos & Discount Code

I’ll close out this post by posting a bunch of my Bubbles & Books unboxing photos and giving you a discount code if you’d like to subscribe.

If you’d like to give them a try, you can use my code JENJEN30 for 30% off of your first box. I’m not actually an affiliate or anything they just offered me a code once to give to my friends/followers and I was like THAT’S AWESOME.

Anyways, happy reading!

Subscription Spotlight: Sleuth Kings

Hello everyone! I’m trying something new today (hence me spending hours trying to make a new graphic and, as usual, still hating it). Today I’m going to bring light to one of the subscription boxes that my partner and I originally purchased back in 2019: Sleuth Kings.

What is Sleuth Kings?

You can visit their website for more info, but I’ll try to give you the basics here.

A typical Sleuth Kings box.

Sleuth Kings is a subscription service (US only, sadly) that sends you a package every month with its own individual mystery. Included in each box is the following:

  • Investigation Instructions
  • Investigation Report
  • 4 Main Clues
  • Side Clues/Items
  • Epilogue Letter

Each story revolves around a fake detective named Sullivan King as he tries to solve a new case. The Investigation Instructions, along with the introduction email they send you when you begin, provides you with all of the background information you’ll need. Your job is to then go through the four clues they’ve given you to figure out what information they provide.

While you make your way through the clues, you can email Sullivan at any time to ask for help. Usually he will give you one or two hints, and if you’re still stuck after that, he’ll solve the clue for you. The newer cases actually started including a website that you can go to for hints if you’d prefer not to do back and forth emails. Note: The Sullivan that you email during cases is just an email bot, so you’re not going to have to worry about having to wait for a real human to get your email and respond.

Each case usually has two main questions it wants you to answer (one is usually a location or password while the other is usually the identity of the culprit). Once you think you have the correct answer to one or both of these questions, all you have to do is email Sullivan to let him know. You’ll either get a response saying he doesn’t think you’re right and to try again, or you’ll get a positive response along the lines of “What?? You say ____ is the culprit? I don’t know how you figured that out! You’re so smart and awesome and I love you forever. You’re my favorite subscriber of all time.” (Okay, maybe I added a little to that last bit).

After the final emails are exchanged, you get to open the Epilogue Letter which will finally close the case. Each epilogue letter includes a fun item if you’re into that sort of thing. We’ve gotten a few key chains and small trinkets from them.

One of the cases we received and completed

Extra Info

There are two types of detective cases to choose from: Master Detective and Rookie Detective. The difference between the two is the level of difficulty. Rob and I have never tried a Rookie Detective case, but the website says they take around half as long to solve than the Master Detective cases.

One major thing to note if you’re interested in this subscription is that Brandon (the guy who runs Sleuth Kings) has recently taken a break from making new boxes, so all regular subscriptions were cancelled. What is currently being offered are two packages for mysteries that span 4 cases. This is something fairly recent that the company did and basically what is means is that each box still has its own individual mystery to solve, but all four boxes are connected with one larger overall mystery.

Another thing you can do is purchase archived boxes! These are cases from prior months that are available for individual sale online. Almost all of the old cases still have stock, and Brandon restocks them whenever they run out. There are a few cases that he had to retire due to his suppliers no longer providing certain items, but there are still 23 Master Detective cases available for purchase the last time I checked!

My Opinion

I’m not 100% sure about Rob, but I am a huge fan of Sleuth Kings. Some boxes can be more frustrating than others, but I’d definitely recommend this to anyone in the US who is a fan of puzzle solving. We have literally purchased every possible Master Detective case that we can. I’m even debating whether or not I want to dive into Rookie Detective cases because I don’t want to have to wait until the next box to comes out.

One of my favorite things about Sleuth Kings is that each case is it’s own little story. I’ve seen ads for other subscriptions like Hunt a Killer, but those all require you to wait several months before you can solve the mystery. Sleuth Kings, on the other hand, gives you a new case each month that will leave you satisfied (and with a clear answer) once you solve it.

All of our Sleuth Kings folders. Can you tell that I’m a fan?

Sleuth Kings Case 023 Review

If you are looking for my complete walkthrough with hints and solutions, I have unfortunately not posted those yet. If not, please continue to the review.

Rating: 2/5 (Time spent: ~3 hours)

Subscription Description

Sleuth Kings is a monthly subscription that delivers fictional detective stories to your door. The premise for each case is that you have been contacted by Detective Sullivan King about a recent case that he has been hired for in which he needs your help. Each month you receive a manila envelope that contains:

  • Instructions on where to go to begin email interactions with Sullivan regarding the case
  • A list of the cases contents (so that you can check that you’ve received everything)
  • A case overview written by Sullivan
  • Approximately 4 clues
  • A Clue Analysis that describes the clues and how to approach each one. (Ignore this paper for an extra challenge)
  • Some additional material/props

Each case is its own story so unlike certain mystery subscriptions (like Hunt A Killer), you can solve the entire case in one sitting. Soon you will begin to receive emails from Sullivan involving his search for his missing father Isaac King and after completing 4 cases you will receive a bonus case regarding Isaac’s disappearance.

Case 023: (Premise)

Asuna Yukimura is the leader of the Young Detective’s Club at her school. When shopping with her mother at an estate sale, Asuna bought a $2 painting. She didn’t actually care much for the painting but rather the frame that it came in. This soon changed, however, when she opened the frame and out popped a letter and an eyepatch!

The letter congratulated Asuna for finding the hidden treasure map (located on the back of the painting) and presented her with her first challenge: four coded locations.

Ecstatic over her discovery, Asuna brought the items to her Young Detective’s Club and together they were able to decipher the codes, travel to these locations, and get the items needed to find the treasure.

This is when tragedy struck. Just when they thought they were on their way to an amazing discovery, another student, Hallie Burkett, caught wind of the treasure map and stole it! Asuna requests Sullivan’s (and your) help in finding the treasure before Hallie does.

Review (No Spoilers)

I feel the need to start off this review by saying that I absolutely hated this case; it was by far my least favorite Sleuth King’s case so far. My partner also feels the same way.

The story was pretty interesting but the clues were outrageously difficult–not necessarily in the way you think. My partner and I avoid looking at the Clue Analysis page when doing these cases for an extra challenge. After feeling stuck several times, we decided to look at it and it provided no additional help. We then decided to email Sullivan for help only to find that we had apparently already deciphered the Clues 1 and 2 properly, we just didn’t know.

Now, my partner and I have a rule that we try as hard as we can to keep the clues in their original condition. For this case (this may be a bit spoilery) this proved to be extremely time consuming to do so. It probably added around an hour to an hour and a half to our time.

In fact, after spending a very long time trying to do what we needed to do on a computer rather than with the clue itself, we decided that we needed to stop for the night because we were both extremely frustrated.

We picked up the next day and solved Clues 3 and 4 but using the answer that these clues gave us didn’t make any sense. Once again, we asked for help only to discover that we did in fact do everything properly and we still couldn’t figure it out.

In summary, the most frustrating thing about this case was realizing that we weren’t doing anything wrong, the clues were just poorly put together. What you have to do at the very end to find the location of the treasure basically was nonsense and I can only blame this on poorly designed clues. If you want to know what I’m talking about, feel free to ask me separately since It’s a spoiler.

I really hope that they up their game and fix this in the next case because I do otherwise enjoy working through these boxes.

Sleuth Kings Isaac Case 001 Detailed Solutions/Hints

If you’re looking for my (spoilerless) review of this case, click here!

The following information is organized by clue item/puzzle. Any items not listed were simply props. Some people have complained online about Sullivan giving away too much when you ask him for a hint. I have tried to create multiple hints for how to solve each puzzle. I hope that this can provide a better experience for fellow Sleuth King subscribers.

At the end of each puzzle section will be the complete “solution”. If anyone found any additional information (or think my conclusions are wrong) from these clues, please comment and let me know!

I have ordered it in the way that I think is the most enjoyable order of going through each puzzle. Sullivan suggests going through the clues in order so I will start with Clue 1. At the very end I will summarize the entire story of the case as best as I can.

Important disclaimer: I will NOT be posting any detailed pictures of the items that are in this case. If you want to experience this case, you must subscribe to Sleuth Kings.

Clue 1: Goodbye Note

Clue Background

Before Chelsea mysteriously disappeared, she left her roommate Sam a goodbye note. Sullivan doesn’t see anything wrong with the goodbye note except for the fact that Sam says that everything mentioned in the note didn’t actually happen.

Hint 1

The actual content of this note is pretty interesting if you like drama but since the events Chelsea describes didn’t actually happen, reading the note through isn’t very important. You can also ignore the doodles for now.

Hint 2

If you haven’t noticed already, there are a bunch of strange typos in the note.

Ultimate Hint

Write out all of the words that are misspelled in order.

Solution

Once you locate all the typos it should give the following hidden message

Sam, someone is following me. If I disappear, use the mirror and note to find my website. Figure out the password with these words: phobia, opaque, light, smoothie, mexico, super.

Clue 2: Crumpled Paper

Clue Background

Next to Chelsea’s bed Sullivan found this crumpled note along with a small mirror.

Hint 1

If you haven’t done Clue 1 yet, do that. Just like with Clue 1, you can ignore the doodles for now.

Hint 2

Like the message from Clue 1 says, you’ll need to use the mirror to solve this clue.

Ultimate Hint

If you haven’t flipped the paper over yet, do that and notice that the two sides are halves of the same message.

Solution

My partner and I were actually able to do most of this with just one side of the paper and a mirror. Eventually I used an app on my phone to combine the two halves and get the final html since that was hard to read with our original approach. The message in its entirety should read:

Sam, I’m in danger. I hid information about these people in case they come for me. Go to my website to find it: https://siteninja.wixsite.com/help

Website Puzzle:

After you crack Clue 2, it will lead you to Chelsea’s website. Chelsea says that in order to get the password, you’ll need to use a list of words she’s given you. Place these words properly in the diagram she provides and then the password is the person associated to the answer you get.

Hint 1

If you haven’t done Clue 1 yet, do that.

Hint 2

At the end of her note in Clue 1, Chelsea gave you the following words: phobia, opaque, light, smoothie, mexico, super.

Hint 3

Like it says, you’ll need to place these words in the rectangular diagram given. To get you started, you can place the words Light and Super since these are both five letter words and the five colored boxes in each row need to have a letter in them. Then you can look at the different choices possible for the two columns needed for the code.

Ultimate Hint

The possibilities for the two columns are:
PH      IA
OP      UE
L         T
MO     HI
ME     CO
S         R

Solution

Once you get the code together it should read

Holmes Author

So the password is: Doyle

Clue 3: Research Notes

Clue Background

Sullivan found this paper labeled “Research Notes” near Chelsea’s laptop. The story doesn’t make much sense and there are strange circles throughout.

Hint 1

If you haven’t done Clue 2 yet and the associated website puzzle, do that.

Hint 2

As the website says, you’ll need to place the 6 clear “bookmarks” over the circles. They will block out certain words to make a message.

Hint 3

The inner shapes should not overlap with the inner shapes on the bookmarks when they overlap.

Ultimate Hint

You’ll need to place three horizontally and three vertically. As stated in Hint 3, the inner shapes should not overlap so once you think you have it, check to see that the black shape leaves you with readable words.

Solution

Once you place the bookmarks appropriately it says:

There are three men. Two are in their early thirties and one is in his fifties. I followed them to their new warehouse. It’s in a building on the corner of 2 streets. I won’t go into more detail here. Just know reading art backwards can reveal helpful directions.

Clue 4: Last Diary Entry

Clue Background

Chelsea was keeping an online diary on her computer. This was the entry that was opened so Sullivan printed it out along with the few other entries she made to see if there was anything more to them than meets the eye.

Hint 1

If you haven’t done Clue 3 yet, do that.

Hint 2

These doodles should look familiar to you; they are all over the other clues that you had to solve.

Hint 3

Convert each picture to the words that they are associated to (by looking at the other clues and webpages).

Ultimate Hint

Once you convert them, the message will need to be read starting from the bottom right and moving left and up.

Solution

The pictures decode into:

Read diary entry Not Again. Read every third word after like for where I’ve been taken.

Diary Puzzle

There are two additional diary entries that Sullivan printed out from Chelsea’s computer. They talk about Chelsea’s struggles with anxiety after she was almost killed.

Hint 1

If you haven’t done Clue 4 yet, do that.

Ultimate Hint

You’ll need to follow the instructions from Clue 4. Each time you see th word like, count three words after and note that word down.

Solution

Writing down the third word after every instance of “like” should get you the following message:

Their base is at the intersection of Ludlow and Monument.

The Full Story (MAJOR Spoilers)

Sullivan King has been a detective for a long time. He has solved many cases for other people but there’s one case that he has yet to crack: the disappearance of his father, Isaac.

Long after his dad disappeared, Sullivan received a mysterious message from someone claiming that Isaac is still alive. Apparently an unnamed woman claims that after Isaac went missing, she was saved by someone matching his description. After tracking this woman down, the informant gives us her name: Chelsea Anderson.

Unfortunately Chelsea vanishes before Sullivan has a chance to talk to her. Known to be paranoid and anxious, Sullivan can’t decide if Chelsea ran away or if she was kidnapped.

Chelsea’s roommate Sam is just as shocked to learn that Chelsea is gone. After learning that Sullivan is a private detective, Sam agrees to let him look around their house.

One of the items that Sullivan finds is a goodbye note written from Chelsea to Sam. In the note, Chelsea talks about how Sam has ruined her life by getting her fired–an event Sam claims has never happened. Upon further investigation, it’s discovered that this note has a hidden message: Chelsea is being followed and she’s left more information on her website in case anything happens.

A note next to Chelsea’s bed contains the website url that they need. On the website, Chelsea explains that she was saved by an older man a few months ago who warned her not to speak of the incident. Suffering from severe anxiety over the near death experience, Chelsea had broken her silence in a support group. Not long after, she noticed she was being followed. She says that if Sam has made her way to this website then something has gone wrong and they’ve taken her.

A document and diary on Chelsea’s computer gives both Sam and Sullivan a description of some of the men along with their location. Sullivan travels there and is able to not only save Chelsea from her kidnappers but also confirm that it was indeed his father that saved her months ago.

Now safe, Chelsea explains that the men kidnapped her and tied her to a chair but didn’t harm her in any other way. Sullivan is also able to get more details about the incident that occurred months ago.

Chelsea was a reporter investigating a potential story. Her investigation accidentally led her to a warehouse of a drug trade run by a group called Cinder. She suspected that they did more than drug dealing but stopped looking into it when she was almost killed.

Sullivan is convinced that Cinder has to be involved in something much more dangerous. His father wouldn’t have disappeared without notice simply over a drug ring. He vows to keep looking and will let you know if he finds anything new.

Sleuth Kings Isaac Case 001 Review

If you are looking for my complete walkthrough with hints and solutions, they will be posted soon! If not, please continue to the review.

Rating: 5/5 (Time Spent: 1 hour)

Subscription Description

Sleuth Kings is a monthly subscription that delivers fictional detective stories to your door. The premise for each case is that you have been contacted by Detective Sullivan King about a recent case that he has been hired for in which he needs your help. Each month you receive a manila envelope that contains:

  • Instructions on where to go to begin email interactions with Sullivan regarding the case
  • A list of the cases contents (so that you can check that you’ve received everything)
  • A case overview written by Sullivan
  • Approximately 4 clues (there is also a list describing the clues that you can read to help you get started or choose to ignore for an extra challenge)
  • Some additional material/props

Each case is its own story so unlike certain mystery subscriptions (like Hunt A Killer), you can solve the entire case in one sitting. Soon you will begin to receive emails from Sullivan involving his search for his missing father Isaac King and after completing 4 cases you will receive a bonus case regarding Isaac’s disappearance.

The clues come in the large envelope and the epilogue envelope is for after you solve the case.

Isaac Case 001: Find Chelsea Anderson (Premise)

By the time you receive this case in the mail, you should have already received several emails from Sullivan regarding his missing father. It all started when an anonymous informant left Sullivan a message that his father may still be alive.

This informant bases their information on the story of a woman named Chelsea Anderson. Chelsea claims that after Isaac King went missing, a man matching his description saved her life when she happened upon an illegal drug ring.

The informant successfully tracks Chelsea down but before they can ask her any questions she vanishes. Sullivan needs your help finding out Chelsea’s location so that he can (1) verify if his father is in fact still alive and (2) make sure she’s okay.

The items inside the case file.

Review (No Spoilers)

I cannot tell you how happy I was to discover that this case wasn’t a myth. When deciding on a mystery subscription package many of the reviews mentioned this bonus case. The reason I was skeptical was because no one bothered to mention that the package would be preceded by emails. As a result, I had started to wonder if the package had simply been replaced by bonus emails instead.

First off, a really nice thing about this bonus package and the emails is that at every step you are given a chance to refresh yourself on what has already been established. I have a bad memory so this was a particularly useful tool. If you have a better memory then you can just simply skip this part.

Okay! Let’s get to the actual case content. As usual, you are given a description of the case and a clear objective. My partner and I worked through this case in around an hour which is shorter than I would have liked but I actually thought the difficulty of the clues was pretty on point. In fact, I think that this might have been my favorite Sleuth Kings case so far!

I do want to be transparent and say that this might have to do with the fact that the last case I did (Case 005) had an error in one of the clues which left me very frustrated. That’s also the reason why I have been procrastinating on posting any blog posts about that case. I can happily announce that this case didn’t have any major flaws (there was a small typo in one of the letters that Sullivan wrote but like whatever).

Overall I was very satisfied with this case and I hope that the search for Sullivan’s father continues to be just as enjoyable. (Side Note: After we worked through this case, my partner also mentioned that he really liked this one in particular so A+ to Sleuth Kings!)

Sleuth Kings Introduction Case Review

Rating: 5/5

This small introduction is a lovely surprise for any new Sleuth King subscriber as long as you don’t expect too much from it.

Subscription Description

Sleuth Kings is a monthly subscription that delivers fictional detective stories to your door. The premise for each case is that you have been contacted by Detective Sullivan King about a recent case that he has been hired for in which he needs your help. Each month you receive a manila envelope that contains:

  • Instructions on where to go to begin email interactions with Sullivan regarding the case
  • A list of the cases contents (so that you can check that you’ve received everything)
  • A case overview written by Sullivan
  • Approximately 4 clues
  • A Clue Analysis that describes the clues and how to approach each one. (Ignore this paper for an extra challenge)
  • Some additional material/props

Each case is its own story so unlike certain mystery subscriptions (like Hunt A Killer), you can solve the entire case in one sitting. I am told that every 4 cases you receive a bonus case about finding Sullivan’s missing father. (So far I have not received this but I have received several bonus emails regarding his father.)

Case 000: Introduction (Premise)

When you first sign up to receive your Sleuth Kings subscription boxes, you should receive a small envelope in the mail before your first case arrives. Inside is a small card from Sullivan welcoming you to Sleuth Kings. In this card, he presents you with a link to a free introductory case designed to give you a sample of what your first case will hold.

Review (No Spoilers)

First of all I’d like to apologize for doing this out of order. I had honestly forgotten that we received this card until it fell out of the place I was storing all of our Sleuth Kings packages. Considering how short the case is, I do not plan on doing a walkthrough for this one (sorry!).

This case was overall a very nice and interesting introduction to the Sleuth Kings universe. Starting off with an email from Sullivan, you are presented with a list of tasks that you have to complete in a specific order in order to move on. Kind of like a scavenger hunt.

Now that I’ve completed several cases, I can say that this is NOT really how Sleuth Kings packages work. In full cases, you can work in whatever order you want but nevertheless I really enjoyed solving this introductory case.

The case probably took my partner and I around 15 minutes to complete so don’t expect too much of a challenge from it. It is really just intended to be a free sample rather than a full complementary package. As long as you don’t start this card with big expectations, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the little treat that it provides as much as I did!

Sleuth Kings Case 006 Review

If you are looking for my complete walkthrough with hints and solutions, click here! If not, please continue to the review.

Rating: 4/5

Subscription Description

Sleuth Kings is a monthly subscription that delivers fictional detective stories to your door. The premise for each case is that you have been contacted by Detective Sullivan King about a recent case that he has been hired for in which he needs your help. Each month you receive a manila envelope that contains:

  • Instructions on where to go to begin email interactions with Sullivan regarding the case
  • A list of the cases contents (so that you can check that you’ve received everything)
  • A case overview written by Sullivan
  • Approximately 4 clues (there is also a list describing the clues that you can read to help you get started or choose to ignore for an extra challenge)
  • Some additional material/props

Each case is its own story so unlike certain mystery subscriptions (like Hunt A Killer), you can solve the entire case in one sitting. I am told that every 4 cases you receive a bonus case about finding Sullivan’s missing father. (So far I have not received this but I have received several bonus emails regarding his father.)

Case 006: The Show Must Go On (Premise)

Sullivan is contacted by Eva Verde, who is putting on a play about a few kids who go to a cabin in the woods and accidentally conjure the spirit of a violent ghost named Smilin’ Jack.

The reason Eva has asked Sullivan for help is that her cast and crew are threatening to quit the show because they believe that the set is being haunted by the real Smilin’ Jack. Several props, posters, and photos have been defaced and threats have been made via letters and mysterious voices.

Eva (and Sullivan) do not believe the set is haunted and need your help in finding out who is behind the sabotage.

Review (No Spoilers)

I have done several Sleuth King cases with my partner (see other reviews) and this was probably the hardest one so far. My partner and I can normally solve these cases in 1 hour without referring to the Clue Sheet. For this case, we ended up using the Clue Sheet more than once and it took us an extra half hour.

One of the things that I had wanted for Case 004 was more of a challenge so it was a pleasant surprise that this one was harder. Unfortunately we hadn’t prepared for this so we although we were both pretty tired, we opened the case around 11:11PM (make a wish!) expecting to go to sleep at midnight. In reality, we ended up going to sleep around 1AM.

I enjoyed this case and its challenge, even if it made me very sleepy. The only complaint I have about it was that one of the clues required us to stare at a bunch of letters and perform a particularly annoying guess and check to get a password. As far as I know there was no better method of doing this.

Oh, I also almost forgot that there is a typo on the defaced script (Clue 3). At some point it should say STACY but it says ABBY. This didn’t effect anything other than our ability to understand what was happening in the scene.

I do have to say though. I was laughing throughout the entire case over the phrase “Fried Emo Vegans”. It still gets to me.

Stay tuned for more reviews of Sleuth Kings!

Sleuth Kings Case 006 Detailed Solutions/Hints

Note: Sleuth Kings is discontinuing this case as soon as the current supply runs out. If you are unable to purchase it from them, the only way to get it would be secondhand.

The following information is organized by clue item/puzzle. Any items not listed were simply props. Some people have complained online about Sullivan giving away too much when you ask him for a hint. I have tried to create multiple hints for how to solve each puzzle. I hope that this can provide a better experience for fellow Sleuth King subscribers.

At the end of each puzzle section will be the complete “solution”. If anyone found any additional information (or think my conclusions are wrong) from these clues, please comment and let me know!

I have ordered it in the way that I think is the most enjoyable order of going through each puzzle. Sullivan suggests going through the clues in order so I will start with Clue 1. At the very end I will summarize the entire story of the case as best as I can.

Important disclaimer: I will NOT be posting any pictures of the items that are in this case. If you want to experience this case, you must subscribe to Sleuth Kings.

Clue 1: Smilin’ Jack’s Letter (First Puzzle)

Clue Background

The cast agrees that the haunting of Smilin’ Jack began with this letter from him left at the theater. It seems to have two different codes that need to be cracked. I’ll admit that in order to solve this clue, my partner and I had to look at the Clue Analysis paper.

Hint 1

You can totally ignore the actual message that the letter has written, it doesn’t help you in solving the puzzles. As far as I know the shapes to the left of the first puzzle mean nothing as well.

Hint 2

The checks indicate that the letter is in the correct space. The X’s indicate that the letters (and spaces) in that column have to be rearranged. Here is what it looks like with the check marked columns in place. Note that words continue to the next row unless there is a blank.

Ultimate Hint

Here is what it looks like with the blanks in place for every column and the question mark.

Solution

Once you place all of the letters the message reads:

Not ready to die? Find the poster’s nine hidden words to read the code.

Clue 2: Ruined Poster

Clue Background

Eva created promotional posters to advertise her show. She found that a bunch of them were vandalized and covered in nonsensical phrases.

Hint 1

If you haven’t done the first puzzle in Clue 1 yet, do that.

Hint 2

The phrases themselves are hilarious but also nonsense. You’ll need to only read part of each phrase.

Ultimate Hint

I suggest writing down the phrases without the spaces and trying to find any word that can be made with a portion of the letters (do not reorder any of the letters). Eventually you should be able to get a phrase.

Solution

Here is the message from the poster:

Code: Move all forward one and use the program.

Clue 1: Smilin’ Jack’s Letter (Second Puzzle)

Hint 1

If you haven’t done Clue 2 yet, do that.

Hint 2

Clue 2 says to move all forward one. Move all letters forward one in the alphabet (Z goes to A). Move all numbers forward 1 numerically as well.

Hint 3

Once you move the title of the table properly, it should read “Songs Page”. Open the program to the Songs page. Can you figure out what the code is referring to on this page?

Ultimate Hint

DN stands for Director’s Note. A stands for Act. L stands for Line. W stands for Word. Use these to find the words that corresponds to each cell.

Solution

Once you find the corresponding words the message should read:

Can you feel the heat from my gaze? Try adding your own.

Clue 3: Defaced Script

Clue Background

One of the lead actresses in the show, Sam Miller, found her script open to this page with . a giant smiling face drawn across it.

Hint 1

You may notice that you can see some words through the smiling face. Can you make it out?

Hint 2

If you haven’t solved Clue 1’s second puzzle do that.

Ultimate Hint

You’ll need to literally apply Clue 1’s second message to this clue. We used a candle to do the job.

Solution

Once you apply heat to the smiling face it should review two messages and the line said by Smilin’ Jack in the play. The three things should be:

This is your last warning.
Quit now to live. Ignore me and die.
I ate your friends. I’m a bloodthirsty ghoul, you know.

Clue 4: Discarded Note

Clue Background

Two of the cast members, Kelly Rice and Rue Neil, overheard Jack’s voice while locked in the supply room. Upon investigation, Sullivan found a password protected cell phone hidden in the vent of the room. He also found a crumpled piece of paper that he assumes will give him a clue on how to unlock the phone.

Hint 1

There are two questions you’ll need to answer to solve this problem. If you haven’t done Clue 3, do that.

Hint 2

If you haven’t read the interview with Kelly Rice and Rue Neil, read (or skim) that.

Ultimate Hint

The above two hints should give you your answers. They are ghoul and stage. From here it’s basically a guess and check. Try to think of words that have to deal with the case.

Solution

We first guessed ghost and that didn’t work. Eventually we got that it is haunt.

After Finding The Phone Password (Audio Puzzle)

After you email Sullivan the code to get into the phone, he’ll send you to a site where you can listen to the audio that was played from it. He asks that you figure out exactly what the audio is trying to say.

Hint 1

The message mentions all of them being “marked”. Does that remind you of anything?

Hint 2

You’ll need to use the three photos that came along with the case.

Hint 3

The message says to look for what is not there. What letters of the alphabet are missing from these photos?

Ultimate Hint

The letters missing are A,E,I,L,N,R,W. You’ll need to figure out who in the cast these letters refer to. The program might be helpful.

Solution

Rearranging the letters you get the name

Erin Law

The Full Story (MAJOR Spoilers)

Eva Verde is the director of an upcoming musical comedy at The Victoria. The musical, Smilin’ Jack, is about a group of friends who travel to a secluded cabin in the woods and somehow (no idea how) accidentally summon an evil ghost (Smilin’ Jack) who possesses one of the friends named Abby and begins killing them.

All is set to go well UNTIL a mysterious and threatening letter is left on set by someone–or something–claiming to be Smilin’ Jack. Jack tells them (in a serious of hilariously ridiculous sentences and puns) that they were foolish to think this was just a musical. He’s here and they are all going to die…one…by…one.

He’s not completely ruthless though; he’ll give them a chance to save themselves in the form of two coded puzzles.

Never mind the puzzles, the cast and crew are terrified. The Victoria is known for being haunted and now the stories are proving to be true! To avoid certain death, they all quit the show. Eva, who doesn’t believe in this ghost story, contacts Detective Sullivan King to help her get to the bottom of what’s happening.

The first puzzle in Jack’s letter leads them to several defaced promotional posters that have nine random phrases graffitied across them. In each of these phrases is one hidden word that tells them how to solve the second of the two puzzles in the letter. This second hidden message directs them to a defaced script of one of the cast members.

Applying heat to this script reveals two more hidden messages (and a line in the script). The messages relay that everyone must quit the play or die. (Sorry Jack you’re too late they already quit before your message was decoded!)

Sullivan, convinced one of the cast members is “Smilin’ Jack”, interviews two of them. The two claim to have heard Jack’s voice telling them something after being locked in a room with the lights turned off. They don’t know what he said, but they know that it sure was scary.

Sullivan searches the room and discovers a cell phone hidden in one of the air ducts. He cracks the cell phone’s password and listens to the Jack’s message himself. The recording eludes to three cast photos that were taken during a cast outing. On each cast member there is a smiling face and a letter. Putting together the letters that don’t appear on any of these photos leads Sullivan to the real Smilin’ Jack: Erin Law.

Once the case is solved, Erin eventually admits to the sabotage. It was her first time having a starring role in a performance and she cracked under the pressure. Being cast as Smilin’ Jack in her first big role meant that she might never be taken seriously by the industry. Afraid of being blacklisted if she dropped out of the play, she decided that sabotaging it was her only option. (Too bad sabotaging the performance will effectively end her career.)

The rest of the cast and crew return to work and the role of Smilin’ Jack goes to Erin’s understudy. Eva is sure the play will be a hit, even after everything that’s happened. In fact, you’re invited!

Sleuth Kings Case 004 Review

If you are looking for my complete walkthrough with hints and solutions, click here! If not, please continue to the review.

Rating: 3/5

Subscription Description

Sleuth Kings is a monthly subscription that delivers fictional detective stories to your door. The premise for each case is that you have been contacted by Detective Sullivan King about a recent case that he has been hired for in which he needs your help. Each month you receive a manila envelope that contains:

  • Instructions on where to go to begin email interactions with Sullivan regarding the case
  • A list of the cases contents (so that you can check that you’ve received everything)
  • A case overview written by Sullivan
  • Approximately 4 clues
  • A Clue Analysis that describes the clues and how to approach each one. (Ignore this paper for an extra challenge)
  • Some additional material/props

Each case is its own story so unlike certain mystery subscriptions (like Hunt A Killer), you can solve the entire case in one sitting. I am told that every 4 cases you receive a bonus case about finding Sullivan’s missing father. (So far I have not received this but I have received several bonus emails regarding his father.)

Case 006: Abraca-Debra (Premise)

Sullivan has been contacted by Debra Hartfield, who claims that she is being framed for the murder of her ex-boyfriend Rich Daughtry. Rich worked as a magician and Debra was his assistant/girlfriend–that is until she found out Rich got another girl pregnant while they were dating. Now, Rich has gone missing, the police assume he’s dead, and several pieces of evidence point in her direction.

The police have yet to find Rich’s body and Sullivan thinks it might just be what he needs to clear Debra’s name. He asks for your help in finding the body and any additional evidence that the police may have missed.

Review (No Spoilers)

First Impressions

This was the first Sleuth Kings mystery that my partner and I attempted to solve so neither of us really knew what to expect. The actual first case that we were scheduled to have delivered was Case 022 (reviewed separately) but when you sign up for an account, they email you a discount for Archive cases which we used to buy this one. That being said, I think both of us were extremely excited to being this new journey and we entered in this mystery with much enthusiasm.

What was delivered to us was a box so we expected the contents to be more…volumized? I’m not sure what the word I want is but we expected there to be larger objects, since the box was a good size. Unfortunately what’s inside the box is a simple manila envelope which is what actually contains the case material. I think the box is just for show.

We opened up the envelope and the first thing we noticed was that for some reason there are two instructions on how to start the case that are almost identical. I’m not sure why. My best guess is that they started with one form and decided to update it at a later point and as a result they now just have two? Who knows. My suggestion is to get rid of the (albeit cool looking) instructional paper and simply keep the smaller card-stock version that has the list of contents on the back.

Basically how this works is you go to a site (included in both instructions) to send Sullivan an email indicating that you are ready to begin. He responds with basically the exact same set of instructions that can be found in the “Final Thoughts” portion of the My Investigation paper. He tells you what he needs from you to successfully solve the case and what keywords to include in your emails so that he can know what you’re talking about.

The Case

We made our way through this case in approximately 1 hour (slightly less). This may have been in large part due to the Clue Analysis paper which basically told us exactly how to approach each clue. This was my main complaint.

I later found out–after doing another case where the instructions are slightly altered–that we could have skipped reading this paper to make the case more challenging. Unfortunately since this sentence wasn’t written for Case 004, we didn’t know that we could skip it. Not knowing much about how this subscription package worked, we had assumed that all papers were important in solving the mystery.

Additionally, I believe that one of our clues was made improperly. In the box is a few fake playing cards and one of them seems to have been printed upside down. This didn’t affect our ability to solve the case because we just had to flip it but knowing the orientation of that card was something that was kind of important for decoding one of the clues.

The last unfortunate setback is that Sullivan isn’t as “smart” as we would have hoped. By that I mean Sullivan is clearly some sort of email bot; we just thought that he was programmed to handle human interaction better. One of the reviews that my partner and I read online seemed to suggest that Sullivan actually responds to things you say (this review mentioned Sullivan no longer being upset at being called silly nicknames). I discovered during this case that this reviewer was probably just making a joke.

For example, one of the instructions Sullivan tells you is that when you finally solve the case, you should include the word “solution” in your email to him. My partner–hoping to get a real life sort of vibe from these emails–sent out an email that said “The solution isn’t what you think! *answer written here*“. Unfortunately, Bot Sully could not understand this email and responded with some random hint to a clue that we had already solved. After that we decided to just keep our emails as basic as possible (E.g. A reply that simply states “solution *insert solution*“). This took away from the fun immersive experience.

Overall, I am optimistic about this subscription. We are signed up for a prepaid 6 month subscription so we have a lot more to experience! Stay tuned for more reviews and walkthroughs!