Subscription Spotlight: Curls Monthly

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

What is Curls Monthly?

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

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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 standalonesβ€”which I loveβ€”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 πŸ˜‚

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 πŸ˜‚

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 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 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: Letter & Note

Clue Background

After Rich’s disappearance, Debra found this letter and note on her kitchen counter along with 4 playing cards (5, 6, 7, 8 of spades).

Hint 1

There is a hidden message in the note. Pay attention to each of the shapes. Do they look familiar?

Hint 2

Look at the small white paper that came with the note, particularly the question. This should give you a hint on what the symbols mean and how to read them.

Ultimate Hint (basically the solution)

Each symbol is a normal letter written over its reflection.

Solution

You can cover up the left half of each column if you’re having trouble with this. The text reads (from left to right):

HELLO DEBRA
I KNOW ABOUT EVERYTHING.
HOW DARE YOU TRY TO STEAL HIM.
JUST WAIT.
YOU AND RICH WILL PAY.
BEV

Clue 2: Letter in Rich’s Office

Clue Background

Following instructions given by Debra, Sullivan went to Rich’s secret office and found a threatening letter on top of the desk.

Hint 1

The letter doesn’t make much sense. Try to view it as not at face value to find a hidden message. Note: The crossed out words don’t matter.

Hint 2

Notice that there are several different types of font throughout the letter. Some words share the same style as others.

Ultimate Hint

Write down all the words of a particular font for each font style. They’ll need to be moved around to make sentences that makes sense.

Solution

Here are the words you get from each font style. There are several sizes of bold words. I will call them “medium bold words” (I see you), “small bold words” (the bookshelves), and “large bold words” (None of it matters now).

  Medium bold words:
    I, SEE, YOU, I, FOUND, NOTE, YOU, OFFICE, KNEW, WOULD, IN, MY, THE
  How we rearranged them:
   I SEE YOU FOUND MY NOTE IN THE OFFICE. I KNEW YOU WOULD.
  (Alternatively: I SEE YOU FOUND THE NOTE IN MY OFFICE. I KNEW YOU WOULD.)

  Larger capitalized words:
    ARE, SURPRISED, YOU, THIS, PLACE, I, KNEW, ABOUT
  How we rearranged them:
   ARE YOU SURPRISED I KNEW ABOUT THIS PLACE?

  Large italicized words:
    I, KNOW, EVERYTHING, ALL, TOO, WELL
  How we rearranged them:
   We didn’t. It reads fine.

  Small cursive words:
   ABOUT, PLAN, THE, CLOSET, CHECK, IF, YOU, WANT, TO, MORE, KNOW, MY
  How we rearranged them:
   CHECK THE CLOSET IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT MY PLAN.

  Underlined words:
   DONT, BE
  How we rearranged them:
    We didn’t. It reads fine.

  Small bold words:
   THE, BOOKSHELVES, THE, PAINTINGS, THE, DESK, THE, CHAIR, I, KNOW
  How we rearranged them:
   We had no idea how to. I’m not sure this one is supposed to make sense.

  Large bold words:
   NONE, OF, IT, MATTERS, NOW
  How we rearranged them:
   We didn’t. It makes sense as is.

  Written words:
   Bev

Putting this together gives something like the following:

I see you found my note in the office. I knew you would. Are you surprised I knew about this place? Don’t be. I know everything all too well. Check the closet if you want to know more about my plan. Bev.

Clue 3: Note in Rich’s Closet

Clue Background

After opening the closet (and having a surprise picture of him taken), Sullivan noticed this paper taped to the wall under the camera. It must say something but he doesn’t know what.

Hint 1

Notice that the note has a picture of a spade at the bottom. The cards should help you with this one.

Hint 2

Notice that on the note, all of the pairs of numbers begin with either a 5, 6, 7, or 8. All end with a number between 1 and 8.

Hint 3

On the 5 of spades there is an A in the top left corner and on the 8 of spades there is a Z in the bottom right corner. (Hopefully your cards were made properly to determine the orientation because my 8 of spades wasn’t. Your card should be right side up in a way that makes the back of it also right side up). Use this to fill in the rest of the alphabet.

Ultimate Hint

After filling out the missing letters on the cards from left to right, use the numbers to find the corresponding letter. For example, 81 would be the letter that corresponds to the first spade on the 8 of spades.

Solution

After matching the numbers with the letter on the corresponding spade, the message reads:

Smile Debra. You have one hour to stop the email by looking diagonally.

Clue 4: Clue to Rich’s Email

Clue Background

Sullivan can’t get into the computer that was in Rich’s office because it is password protected. He does, however, find a reminder note that Rich left himself about his password.

Hint 1

Recall that an hour after Sullivan had his picture taken, the police received an email of the photograph.

Hint 2

You’ll need to use the message from Clue 3.

Ultimate Hint

Start from the bottom right corner and read diagonally upwards.

Solution

Starting from P and working diagonally upwards, the reminder reads

Password is rabbit.

After Finding Rich’s Password (Email Puzzle)

After you email Sullivan the correct password to Rich’s email, he will respond telling you to give him some time to go through the computer. After a few minutes you should get another email from Sullivan. On the computer he found a strange email that he believes has a hidden message. He asks you to figure out what it is.

Hint 1

The message basically makes no sense. Take notice of how the message is formatted. Sentences are chopped strangely.

Hint 2

Take note of the capitalized words. The first sentence should give you a hint.

Ultimate Hint

The first sentence has the capitalized words “First” and “Last. It wants you to pay attention to the first and last words of each line.

Solution

If you read the first and last words of each line, (ignoring the first line) the message reads:

I’m ready to fake my death. Have my new identity finished in one week.

The Back of the Playing Cards

Clue” Background

Though the playing cards are not actually labeled as a clue, you may notice that there are strange symbols on the back of them.

Hint 1

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

Hint 2

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

Ultimate Hint

After reading the right half of each symbol, you should get numbers that look like those in Clue 3. Solve this puzzle the same way. The cards should be in numerical order from left to right. The message should read from left to right (across all cards).

Solution Part 1: Decoding the Symbols

Using the same method as Clue 1 of looking at the right half of each symbol you should get.

64 51 72 51 82 82 63 55 61 71 87 55 77 72 74 82 55 71 85 51 64 82 64 73 62 74 73 72 87 73 55 85 64 54 55 73 82 64 82 87

Solution Part 2: Decoding the Message

Using the same method as Clue 3 to convert these numbers to letters, the message says:

I am at the flyer motel waiting on my new identity.

The Full Story (MAJOR Spoilers)

Rich Daughtry worked as a magician (Rich the Magnificent) with his assistant and girlfriend Debra Hartfield. They dated for three years but after finding out that Rich had cheated on her and impregnated a woman named Beverly, Debra left.

Determined that the best revenge was her own success, Debra set out to create her own act, purchasing a feathery costume that she would use for it.

Some time later Rich went missing and after 3 days the police presumed him dead. On top of that, Debra’s costume went missing and in their investigation the police found a bloody feather from her outfit along with several threatening notes addressed to Rich from Debra.

A panicking Debra contacts Detective Sullivan to prove her innocence. Her costume was stolen and she did not send those notes! Further, someone has broken into her apartment and left cryptic notes and playing cards. Originally convinced that Debra was guilty, Sullivan eventually takes the case after interviewing her.

First, Sullivan decodes the note left in Debra’s apartment. It is a message from Beverly (Bev) threatening both Debra and Rich!

After decoding this note, Debra gives Sullivan the location to Rich’s secret office. Upon entering, Sullivan finds another strange note on the desk. This is decoded to be yet another note from Bev to Debra telling her to check the closet if she wants to know more about Bev’s evil plan.

Once he enters the closet however, Sullivan is splashed with fake blood and a picture of him is taken. Under the camera is a coded note that tells Debra that she must hack into Rich’s computer in an hour before that picture of hers gets emailed to the police!

In order to get into Rich’s computer, Sullivan decodes a note next to it that tells him the correct password. Inside, Sullivan discovers a strange coded email that Rich sent to someone telling them that he is about to fake his death and needs a new identity in one week!

Now knowing that Rich is still alive, Sullivan just has to find out where Rich is hiding. On the back of the playing cards that were left in Debra’s apartment is a message that reveals that Rich is waiting at the Flyer Motel. Sullivan travels there to confront Rich and upon successfully finding him, turns him over to the police. Debra is cleared!

So the questions we have now are: Why did Rich fake his death? Who framed Debra? Was it Rich or Beverly?

Turns out, Beverly wasn’t in on the plan. Rich faked his death and wanted Debra to go to jail for it. As a Plan B, Rich planted more documents around his office to frame Beverly in case Debra didn’t go down easily. A remaining question you might have is: why the heck did Rich leave Debra a coded message about his location?

The answer is simple: he got too greedy. He wanted Debra (or worst case scenario: Beverly) to go to jail for his murder BUT he wanted Debra to know that he had gotten the best of her. He left his location on those cards because he HOPED that after he fled with his shiny new identity that she would figure out that he was the one who did this to her.

Okay, sure, but why did he want to fake his death in the first place? Just to figuratively slap Debra in the face?

Well, no one knows for sure, but Debra is convinced that Rich has no idea how to be a father nor how to run a successful magician act with Debra as his competition. She thinks he wanted to run away because he was scared about what his future held.

Anyways, now that she’s been cleared of murder, Debra is ecstatic. Who wouldn’t want to see the amazing act of a woman who “escaped prison”?

And with that Debra leaves you with a mathematical magic trick:

Choose a number
Multiply your number by 2
Add 14 to the answer
Divide the total by 2
Subtract your original number

If you did this properly, your number should be 7 (which is the number on the back of a playing card included in the letter). Magic right!?

Well, no–not really. Sorry to ruin the magic (oops) but this is basically just a roundabout way of dividing 14 by 2. As a fake mathematician I will prove it. Here are the instructions again but this time next to them in red will be what is happening mathematically.

Choose a number   n
Multiply your number by 2   2n
Add 14 to the answer   2n+14
Divide the total by 2   (2n+14)/2 = 2(n+7)/2 = n+7
Subtract your original number   n+7-n = 7

And that’s the end of Case 004: Abraca-Debra! My actual review of this case will be posted sometime tomorrow (hopefully)!