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Mystery Factory


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Detective Games & Parties


Ready to go
Add on Spy School, decor, costumed characters and like that.

A Fantastic Time for smaller groups or add your own imagination, props, and setting, to tailor the games for summer camps and other child gatherings.


EVERYTHING You Need to Run the Game.

  • Crime Scene Pictures
  • Clues
  • Gumshoe Casebooks
  • Easy to follow set up & playing instructions
  • A Fun Facts page
  • Written with 8-year-olds in mind. Enjoyed by 5-year-olds to dad-years-old
  • For older kids check out our Do-It-Yourself Books; Crime Scene Buster & Clue Hunt Buster

TELL ME Everything!

After set up, Gumshoe Games can be played:

  • In 45 minutes to an hour depending on group size
  • or … they can last a whole day. If you want a longer party add spy school, a scavenger/clue hunt, a code trail hunt to the missing Something Important.
  • or … they can be stretched out as a weekend event with skill-building add-ons, costume characters and other activities – such as building hideouts (or maybe pillow forts).
  • All of the crimes in the Gumshoe Detective Agency Parties are based on something being stolen.
  • We include instructions for setting up a crime scene area
  • Or table top tableau if you wish to create an actual crime scene or a mini crime scene for investigation.
  • You can also get a few kids together ahead of time to create a Hideout for each Suspect where you can tuck in a couple of clues.

Set up Gumshoe Headquarters (optional) wear the guest secret agents can be finger printed (water base ink for easy wash off) and given their secret agent name (on a sticky label for them to wear) and their Case Books.

  • Print and  Play with our ready-to-go Crime Scene and Clues adding only the loot and props that you need.
  • Follow our Dress It Up suggestions and make your own evidence and add some decor. Or go all-out with props and decor for a themed party they’ll never forget!
  • Get some teenager or adult friends to dress up in character as the suspects to wander around and add colour and improv comments.

Start the game at Gumshoe Headquarters, give them their Detective Casebooks, and stand back! Once it is set up the game runs itself. Don’t be surprised if things get quiet – that’s the sound of active, engaged minds at work.

The Gumshoe Detective Agency GAMES

Two Games In One

Start the game at Gumshoe Headquarters, give them their Detective Casebooks, and stand back! Once it is set up the game runs itself. Don’t be surprised if things get quiet – that’s the sound of active, engaged minds at work.

Each Gumshoe Detective Agency PDF is two fun party games in one – a Whodunnit to catch the bad guy, and a Clue Hunt to find the missing loot. In part one,  Junior Sleuths, armed with their wits and the Gumshoe Detective Handbook, will match the evidence to the culprit with simple crime scene investigation techniques, hunt for clues, track down suspects and solve a mystery! In part two, your gumshoes puzzle out a series of clues to find the missing treasure.



Turn Castaway Critters into a ‘stuffie’ party by having your young guests bring along their favorite stuffed animal to the adventure. Their pets can be the ones which must be saved or they can help rescue others by finding the stolen treasure! If it’s summer, put up a plastic wading pool in the back yard and finish up with a pool party or water balloon dodge ball.

Decor can be added on each of the themes. For Castaway Critters a sandy beach with palm trees, exotic birds and pirate paraphernalia will set the mood.

Want to add some sound effects? Wild bird and animal calls for Castaway.


Turn Fossil Furor guests into amateur paleontologists by hiding tiny toy dinosaurs around the home and/or yard for the sleuths to discover after they have found the stolen fossil.   You could also hide heat resistant items baked in a mix of flour, salt, water and coffee grinds (for the colour and texture) so that the kids will need to bust them open to discover their own fossil inside.

Decor can be added to each of the themes. For Fossil Furor you can go with cave man and dinosaur decor or the inside of a museum with lots of cool exhibits, microscopes, etc.

Want to add some sound effects? Dinosaurs stomping through the bushes and assorted squawks and shrieks for Fossil.


Turn Hobo Heist into a sleep over by having your guests bring their overnight items in a hobo bindle and their sleeping bags to camp-out in a hobo jungle. Begin the party by making hobo bread in a can and cook it in your oven while the kids track down clues! It will be butter melting hot and yummy by the time they find the stolen dynamite! Make the snack complete with Hobo Apples – an apple with the core removed and filled with peanut butter.

Decor can be added to each of the themes. For Hobo Heist you can add all kinds of train and railroad related pictures and items and/or a hobo jungle with make-shift tents or lean-toos and a campfire.

Want to add some sound effects? Train whistles and rumbles for Hobo.

More ways to change it up

Replace some of our paper clues with the actual items:

  • Pictures of candy with real candy (make sure no one eats the evidence before the mystery is solved),
  • Pictures of coins with real coins, pictures of keys with real keys and like that.
  • Create hideouts and a crime scene. We give you pictures to use but you can dress them up by making them part of a diorama or staged area. Turn a corner into the Gumshoe Detective Agency and place the crime scene picture there. Let the kids or birthday child build forts out of cushions and blankets to place some or all of the suspect clues in.
  • Dress up dolls to represent the suspects – or get willing adults to play the roles.  They can sit in their hideouts and give silly answers to all the questions they are asked. The clues are all pictures or items and that’s what the mini detectives need to crack the case so it doesn’t really matter what the characters say.


Create Your Own Detective Parties

Clue Hunt Buster* tells you everything you need to know to create and set up your own clue hunt mystery parties. Whatever the age and size of your group, Clue Hunt Buster can help you play a successful event in five easy steps.

Create Your Own Crime Scene Detective Parties

Crime Scene Buster is organized into Nine Steps. Follow the steps and you end up with a CSI mystery event. Some of the steps have three parts: basic, intermediate and advanced. You only need to do the basic steps. If you are interested in more elaborate mystery parties and/or the mechanics of putting it together, then read the intermediate and advanced sections. The intermediate and advanced sections are not necessary to this book but I feel so passionate and excited about mysteries, that once I start on the topic, I have a hard time stopping!

Feeling Tied Up? Need Help? No Problem.

We’ve run these games countless times, and there is no question we can’t answer. Just email us at jrv(at)mysteryfactory.com and we’ll help you along. Your Gumshoe Mystery Party purchase includes unlimited email support and enthusiasm. We think the grown-ups should have at least as much fun as the kids! Making your child’s party into an unforgettable childhood memory is one of our fondest wishes.

Party On!


Q: Do I really have everything I need for a kid’s party?

A: You have everything you need to play one of the Gumshoe Detective Agency scenarios. Our packages give you the ability to have a great party using only the PDF – or you can upgrade it a little or a lot, as you wish. Loot bags, birthday cake, and party prizes, etc are up to you.

Q: How long does it take to set up the party game?

A: It will take you a few hours to set up a complete party direct from the PDF, using our printable clues and evidence and crime scenes; if you decide to substitute real clues and Dress It Up with our suggestions and your imagination, the sky’s the limit!

Each Gumshoe Detective Agency package includes two different games that you can play together or separately. The first is a ‘Whodunnit’ in which the detectives figure out who committed the crime. The second part is a ‘Whereizit’ that can be added on; this is where the culprit also hides something that the players want to find. Usually it’s the party loots bags or some kind of treasure where there is an item for each player to take home.

It will take one or two hours to print, cut and tape the Whodunnit clues around your house and staple the Detective Handbooks together. If you are using any of the Dress-It-Up suggestions for decor and atmosphere, that will add more time depending on how fancy you get. Setting up a mystery can turn into a big party itself if you and your kids want to draw, paint or arrange hideouts for each of the suspects. One little PDF can inspire a week long event.

For the ‘Whereizit’, you decide what kind and how many clues you use. We give you easy instructions on creating the clues; making up and hiding clues can take anywhere from half an hour, if you are using two or three simple clues, to all day if you are creating an elaborate and twisted trail. And any amount of time in between, of course.

Q: What age of children can play the mystery?

A: On average the party is good for kids age 6 to 11 years old, although it really depends on the individual child. Younger kids also have fun hunting down the clues because you don’t really have to be able to read to play. We’ve also noticed at our own Gumshoe parties that the dads like to ‘help out’ as their kids search for suspects, clues and visit the crime lab.

Q: How long does it take to play?

A: The ‘Whodunnit’ part of the party is usually between 30 minutes and an hour. If you add the ‘Whereizit’ it could take between an hour and two hours, depending on how hard you hide the clues and the size of space you have to play in. If you want to add more time or  are planning activities for a weekend camp-out, family reunion, or a larger event, check out our FREE Kid’s Party Games and pick out some additional detective/spy activities for the kids to play.

Q: How much space do I need?

A: It’s easy to have a ‘Whodunnit’ party in a small space. Simply hang the included Crime Scene and Suspect pictures on the wall and stick the clues around them. If you have a medium size space you can set up small tableaus on table tops. Four characters and a crime scene means you need five table tops. This can be a great pre-party activity for the week before the Mystery. If you have an auditorium or larger space at your disposal then you can decorate bigger spaces with life size props. The ‘Whereizit’ can be done in a small space as well if you hide clues in places such as inside a book or under a couch cushion. The only real consideration is that if the final item is large, such as a box of loot bags, you don’t want the detectives to accidentally come across it ahead of time.

Q: I want to print out the clues and characters about 4/40/400 feet high. Can your images do that?

A: Wowzers! The clues and characters in our PDFs are JPG images that will get fuzzy if you blow them up too much. But we have them as scalable graphics as well, just email us and we’ll send you the files. Then you can make the pictures as big as you want.

Start the Detective Adventure with SPY SCHOOL

  • Practice target shooting by throwing balls in a garbage can or catapulting them with a home build trebuche.
  • Crack codes or write your own for others to crack.
  • Play the memory game by dressing up dolls in a disguise and then removing an item or two and see if the spies in training can spot the difference.
  • Give them a Spy School Graduation Certificate complete with their own secret agent name. Add fingerprints and let the crime solving begin!
  • Learn about SPY SCHOOL














  • We have an outdoor party planned for our 5 year old with 30 kids. He loves mysteries, clues, decoders etc. The area will be a grassy area without too many areas to hide things. Would any of your games work?

    • Hi Marina – thank you for your inquiry about our kid’s detective games! They are mainly targeted at 7 – 8 year olds but would work for younger as there isn’t a lot of reading involved and the reading there is can be done by an adult. The game itself is basically a matching game, where the children match the clues found at the crime scene with the different suspects. The games are made so they can be printed and done on the paper or you can set up a crime scene and suspect hideouts. If you are using paper clues, you can tape them to the bottom of chairs and like that.

      I would suggest something different for your group. Why not have run a SPY SCHOOL instead. In the beginning the gang can pick their own Spy Name and you can put that on a sticky label along with their fingerprint or nose print or elbow print or whatever. Use the activities suggested in our Free Party Games and give out a certificate or badge at the end saying that they have graduated from Gumshoe Spy School. Using the available games allows you to make the party as long or as short as you like. If you want to have them solve something after, then check out CRIME SCENE BUSTER & CLUE HUNT BUSTER and create something specific for your group and situation. Please let me know if you have any further questions or just want to chat.

  • We did the castaway critters for my daughter turning 6, with ~18 kids. We split them into 3 groups and staggered them going to the clue stations. Asked a few parents to play the role at each clue station. We substituted some stuffed animals and figures, and food & coins for the clues at the hideouts. They all had a blast! I got several compliments from parents later on about how much fun their kids had. We added a bit to the clues- used blacklight pens with little flashlights and magnifying glasses to solve a couple clues and then they took those home as their ‘goodie bag’ gifts.

    I’m back here a couple years later looking for another clue pack/mystery!

    • That’s awesome Rose! Thank you so much for posting. Have you thought about trying one of the Do-It-Yourself packages; CRIME SCENE BUSTER or CLUE HUNT BUSTER? I bet you would be fabulous at it. And maybe check out the audio clip with Fossil Furor. Thank you again. Always happy to hear that our mysteries are engaging.

  • We did Hobo Heist for my son’s 8th birthday party last weekend. There were only 4 kids, but they had a great time. I put together the whole party in about 48 hours, and with the detailed party specs, everything worked really well. It took them about 1 hour to do the whole thing, but I didn’t make the hideouts or clues very extravagant. Pretty bare bones, but they had fun!

  • Thank you so much for talking to me on the phone. I can’t wait to plan a mystery event for my school! Your mysteries and ideas should make for a wonderful night for my students.

  • Hello
    How many children does this sort of party work for? My daughter will be 7 and has about 20 kids on her list. Will this work for that number?

    • Yes, it can work for any number of children. It just means you run off more casebooks for them to use. You can also partner them up if you wish. For that number of children it might be fun to get four teenagers or adults to dress up like the suspects. They won’t have to learn any scripts or anything because all the clues are on paper (or you can replace them with the actual items). Either way the costumed characters would give them someone to talk to and question and it doesn’t matter what they say or even if they say the same thing to everyone. Suspects are not known for their honesty. Let me know if you have more questions.

  • HELP! My daughter, who will be 8, wants a mystery/detective party and I’m clueless! I have 3 weeks to get this together!

    • Well we have an abundance of clues so no problem there! Any of our three Gumshoe Detective Agency mysteries would be an excellent choice for an 8 year old. You also have the option of putting a spy school together using the FREE Party Games listed above or purchasing Clue Hunt Buster that will easily explain how to create a fabulous mystery clue hunt – along the lines of a treasure hunt, but more mysterious. Let me know if you have any further questions, Lorri.

  • I am looking for a detective themed party that I can do with 6 year olds . My daughter loves anything mystery related, Famous Five, Scooby Doo so I am trying to come up with something that will keep them active and still incorporate the theme. We will probably use the big open basketball court at our gym….thanks

    • Hi Julia
      Any of our three Gumshoe Detective Agency mysteries would work well with six year old. You could read them the ‘police report’ etc and then it is just a matter of matching up the clues at the crime scene with the suspects – and no reading is required for that part so you could just turn them loose! All the suspects are identified with pictures as well as names.

      With a whole gymnasium at your disposal you could set up suspect hideouts and a crime scene rather than using the pictures only. One group blue up the crime scene photos into 6′ x 6′ banners. I have no idea how they did that but you could also just make tableaus and substitute the pictures of clues (candy, coins, etc) with the actual items for them to find and record in their Detective Casebooks.

      Another option would be to supplement the crime scene investigation with activities from our FREE kids party games http://mysteryfactory.com/kids-party-games/ and call it spy school. You could even base the whole party on the spy school.

      How’s that? Please let me know if you have any further questions.

  • hi
    I am looking for a detective themed treasure hunt game for 10-12 year olds. would you have any ? how much would they cost? I’d like the printable version which can be conducted in our apartment complex.

    • Hi Avni
      CLUE HUNT BUSTER is just what you are looking for. It tells you how to create a mystery hunt, including how to make the clues, that will work in your specific place for your particular age group.

      To give it a detective theme, have the players come dressed as detectives, spies or superheros and turn them loose in search for the missing valuables. You can arm them with magnifying glasses for those really small clues. Since you are creating the game you can make the clues as easy or difficult as you like. The length of the hunt will depend on the number of clues and how long it takes your sleuths to solve them.

      There is no ready-to-go game since every venue and group is different. Only you know the best hiding places and the aptitude of your gang. Check out http://mysteryfactory.com/clue-hunt-buster/ and let me know if you have any further questions. Thanks!

  • Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks for your interest in Mystery Factory!

    I can sell you the older version anytime. It will be the same mystery but I’ve realized that the instructions are really convoluted so I am tightening up the format and making it easier to set up. All of our mysteries come with on-line support so if you have any questions I can help you out. The newer version will probably be a month away.

    At Your Service

  • The story always unfolds the same although it is possible to juggle the clues for a different ending. That would be only if you were using ‘real’ props and not the detective handbook included with the game. Email me your phone number if you want to know specifics and I’ll give you a call.

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