Sir James Basswood Yaardley III, 9th Earl of Hampshire, empowered to speak on behalf of her Imperial Majesty, the Queen Empress Victoria,
Shanghai, November 13, 1880
Dear Respected Person,
A tragic and horrifying event has taken place at the St.Joseph’s Mission in the village of Xiao Dongxi, Zhejiang Province. A priest was found brutally murdered. With regards to the investigation of this incident, you have certain personal vested interests in seeing that the matter is settled “properly”.
This incident has led to grave and exaggerated misunderstandings between the Majestic British Empire and the Imperial Qing Court of China.
In the interest of preventing war and promoting peace and international goodwill, I, James Basswood Yaardley, have been sent to Shanghai to investigate this atrocious event. You, Honoured Person, are invited to attend a dinner party on Her Majesty’s own yacht on the night of December 31. 2010, beginning promptly at 9:30 pm.
Refusing to attend will cast immediate suspicion on your person, and on your ancestors for generations to come. Please confirm that you will be in attendance with my dear wife, Baroness Hedwig of Bremerhaven, at your earliest possible convenience. You will be briefed as to how your are connected to this crime within two weeks before the dinner.
Most Respectfully Yours,
Sir James Basswood Yaardley III, 9th Earl of Hampshire
That's right! James and I are writing a murder mystery for New Year's Eve. So far we are having a darn good time of making it up! The plot is very mysterious indeed and we have a wide spread of characters. If we could, we would invite more people, however it is already very complex to write a plot for 15 people!
Here's a little taste of our characters! We have a Cardinal sent by the Vatican to investigate the incident. We have a traditional Chinese doctor. We have a Formosan pirate. We have a US Martial. We have a Taoist monk, a peasant washer woman, an American opera singer, and even the Empress Dowager of China herself!
Who done it?