Analysis of crime becomes an addiction - a sequential process of collection, examination and inspection.
It may begin with an innocent accusation, casting the blame on Miss Peacock or Colonel Mustard, a couple of unsavory suspects in the board game of "Clue." Rounds of investigation result in multiple solutions to imaginary crimes.Hunger for criminal detail expands to the pages of novels. Readers study the clues under the magnifying glass of Sherlock Holmes or while logging miles on Christie's Orient Express. Mysteries penned by Margaret Truman involve government leaders in varied Washington, D.C., sites, while Dorothy Sayers explores the back streets of Britain in her writings.
More contemporary mystery junkies dissect the pages of Scott Turow's "Presumed Innocent" or "Burden of Proof," or any of Ludlum's or le Carre's thrillers.
When written words lag, the mystery buff turns to visual form.
And who but Alfred Hitchcock conveys the scene of the crime with gripping detail?
Norman Bates created a new market for bathtubs and deadbolt locks after the unforgettable shower scene in "Psycho," while Jimmy Stewart personified the helpless witness during the "Rear Window" murder.
But there comes a time in a mystery lover's life when vicarious participation becomes obsolete.
That doesn't mean he cruises the streets like a vigilante, but somehow finds other means to satisfy his addiction.
In one Salt Lake neighborhood, would-be crime-stoppers plotted their way through chapters of the popular mystery game "How To Host a Murder."
Six murder scenarios cover territories like the Chicago badlands of Al Capone, a train escapade in Paris, an archaeological dig in the Middle East or an oriental adventure set in 8th-century China.
Sherrielee Quilter and her husband, Karl, hosted the episode "Hoo Hung Woo," a potluck dinner and celebration of the Chinese Festival of the Autumn Moon.
Invitations advised guests to "assume the role of an assigned character with a sense of humor and a willingness to take a lighthearted attitude toward blackmail, sex, larceny, deceit and murder."
The objective, of course, was to solve a murder.
Quilter's guests arrived in full costume, anxious to assume their roles. Karl, now known as "Hao Dee-doo," the magistrate and "a man of impeccable character," graciously welcomed guests to his "humble home."
Dan Poulson described his costume, part of which was a traditional Chinese queue and mask, as "slightly askew," but blamed the age of the disguise.
"This is valuable property; it's been in my family for generations," he joked about the black tights he stretched over his head.
Poulson's wife, Marie, added, "This mask is so ancient it even has a run right down the center."
Running into neighbors disguised as historic figures like "General Shang Hai-shek," "Pen Ta-gon" or "Hoo Li-gan," surprised the Quilters. Women assumed the roles of "Willow Blossom," "Joyous Flower" or "Ding Ling," also called "Silver Bell."
Each couple brought a Chinese-inspired con tribution to dinner.
After the first course, Sherrielee commented, "That should be enough to hold us until we get someone murdered here."
"They really take this seriously," Karl explained, but dinner proceeded without a crime.
As the investigation ensued, each character claimed a personal dossier that included a "Top Secret Clue Manual," a list of rules, and a description of the crime setting.
After hours of research, the clues were assembled, accusations presented and the crime resolved.
"And don't underestimate the hours of work," cautioned Larry Johnson, or "Hoo Li-gan." "It takes three to four hours to solve the mystery."
About the same amount of time it would take to concentrate on an Agatha Christie or Margaret Truman book, but much more intimate involvement in the mystery.
"We had such a great time," reported Terry and Donna Moyer, "we're already planning our Chicago gangster adventure. Who gets the Al Capone part?"
Can't imagine this investigative team will ever again be content with a game of "Clue," a book or a movie.
Does the FBI have openings?
1/2 cup small shrimp or ham or other leftover meat
2 eggs, fried quickly
2 tablespoons green peas
2 tablespoons green onion, sliced
6 cups cooked rice
2 teaspoons salt
Dash of garlic powder
8 tablespoons oil\ Cook eggs in oil until barely done; remove from heat. Brown onions in a little more oil. Add rice and remaining oil; stir fry 2-3 minutes. Add seasonings, peas and onions. Serves 6-8.- From Joan Johnson
Sweet and Sour Cucumbers
2 large or 3 small cucumbers
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
Cut 1/2-inch off vine end and rub till white juice comes out. Peel; remove seeds if desired, then slice very thin. Add salt and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Drain water out and squeeze dry. Add sugar and vinegar. Mix well and let sit overnight before serving.- From Joan Johnson
1 package wonton wrappers, cut in 1/4-inch strips
2-3 chicken breasts, steamed and cut in 1/4-inch strips
1 head iceberg lettuce
1 can water chestnuts, sliced
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup sesame seeds
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Accent
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup salad oil
Fry wonton strips in hot oil until golden brown; drain and cool.
Mix dressing. Add chicken to lettuce. Add wontons just before serving. Makes 6 servings.
1 pound lean sausage
1 can (4 1/2 oz.) tiny shrimp
1 can (4 oz.) water chestnuts, finely chopped
3/4 cup celery, finely chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon MSG
1 package wonton skins
Brown sausage; drain. Mix in egg, shrimp, water chestnuts, celery, green onions and MSG. Put rounded teaspoon sausage mixture on each wonton skin. Wrap and seal edges with moistened fingers. Deep fry at 365 degrees until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon. Drain on paper towel in warm oven until ready to serve. Makes 35.
Sweet and Sour Sauce
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2/3 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon catsup
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon MSG
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
Mix brown sugar, pineapple juice, white vinegar, catsup, soy sauce and MSG; bring to boil. Thicken with cornstarch diluted with water. Cook one more minute. Makes about 1 cup sauce.
- From Marie Poulson
1 pound chicken breast, cut in 3/4-inch chunks
1 green pepper, cut in chunks
1 bunch green onions
3 slices ginger root
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 egg white
2/3 cup almonds, walnuts or cashews
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 tablespoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon wine or chicken stock
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
Marinate meat in 1 Tablespoon cornstarch, eff white and soy sauce for 30 minutes or longer. Saute ginger root in oil; add onions and cook until limp. Add chicken and stir fry. Add peppers and sauce ingredients. Just before serving, add nuts. Makes 4 servings.
Sweet and Sour Pork
1 pound pork tenderloin, cut in chunks
1 large green pepper, cut in chunks
4 slices pineapple, cut in chunks
1 carrot, sliced diagonally
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup flour
3-4 tablespoon vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons catsup
8 tablespoon water
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil, optional\ Cut meat in bite-size pieces. Cut up all other items. Make sauce and marinate meat 30 minutes or overnight. Coat meat in cornstarch, flour mixture and fry until browned; set aside. Combine sauce ingredients and cook until thick. Add uncooked vegetables and simmer 10 minutes until flavors blend. Serve over hot rice or chow mein noodles. Makes 4 servings.
- From Joan Johnson