When I became coroner of our little mountain community of ramshackle hilltop mansions, I thought the job would be a no-brainer. I figured there might be a couple of heart attacks a year, maybe a car accident — nothing that would be difficult to attest on a death certificate. Turns out, not only does Clue County have a freakishly high murder rate, but it’s also way harder than you’d think to determine whether the cause of death was, say, a rope or a candlestick.
Sure, it sounds easy. You get a call, drive up a spooky winding road to an old Victorian manse, politely introduce yourself to all of the weirdos named after colors who’ve gathered for an extremely tense dinner party, and enter the crime scene.
But where is it? Turns out these jokers have been moving the body around, so there’s no way to tell where the death actually occurred. Was it the study? The billiard room? The conservatory, whatever that is? Who the fuck knows? There aren’t any obvious bloodstains or drag marks, and some of these rooms have goddamn secret passages. Mrs. White tried to explain to me how those worked, but Professor Plum kept interrupting with “actually” and mansplaining all over her, so I didn’t catch much of it.
Then there’s the murder weapon. I’ve taken a lot of heat about this, so I’d like to address those criticisms head-on. First, these mansions have piles of potential weapons lying around. I’m talking daggers, lead pipes, revolvers, the works. And those are just the obvious ones; this creep calling himself Colonel Mustard — clearly an alias, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen his mugshot on the sex offender registry — was only too happy to show me how a seemingly innocent candlestick or wrench could be used to bash someone’s brains in.
Second, you might think it would be easy to glance at a corpse and determine whether they’d been beaten with a wrench, stabbed with a dagger, or strangled with a rope. But is it really? Don’t you think that if a person really applied themselves and put some muscle into it, they could beat a victim to death with a rope, or stab someone with a lead pipe? To the critics who’ve accused me of “gross incompetence,” I’d like to suggest that maybe they suffer from a lack of imagination.
I’d also like to address the so-called “CSI effect,” the expectation of high-tech forensic investigation yielding irrefutable evidence. That’s a fucking joke. Despite the local population of murder-prone millionaires, our tax base is very low, and my funding is a pittance. So if you think I’m spraying luminol all over the place and collecting hairs to run through an electron microscope, think again. I drive a Dodge Dart that can barely make it up the hills to these foreboding manors. My most sophisticated piece of medical equipment is a magnifying glass that came as a prize in a cereal box.
If I’ve made mistakes, I admit that the biggest was granting over 30 hours of interviews to that investigative podcast. Certainly I wouldn’t have done that if they’d told me the title of the show was Clueless: The Case of the Clue County Coroner. So, yeah, that one’s on me.
Look, I’m not a doctor. One night when I was working at the bowling alley, making nachos, the cheese sauce spurted all over me and Rudy, my boss. “Sorry, Rudy, looks like I just got blood splatter all over your league shirt!” I said. “That’s okay, Mr. Coroner, just clean it up,” Rudy said. It was a throwaway comment, but as I mopped out the toilets later that night, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I got on the ballot, ran unopposed, and was elected, despite my lack of a medical degree. Or a college degree. Or a high school diploma.
Would it be helpful to know about the circulatory system and lividity and rigor mortis and all the other terms I’ve heard on TV? Would actual medical experience teach me the supposedly obvious differences between a stab wound and a bludgeoning? Would that help me determine whether someone had been throttled with a rope, versus a revolver? Maybe.
But for now, I’ve got to get back to the ballroom and interview this fucking rainbow of witnesses. Since I was also elected sheriff this year, the job of solving this murder is all on me. Maybe I can at least get Miss Scarlet’s phone number; she’s been giving me the eye all night.