The Mystery is a Theft.
The Solution is a simple Crime Scene Investigation

The Gumshoe Detective Agency – where spies go to learn investigative techniques.

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.

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
  • 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.

After set up, Gumshoe Games can be played:

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

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.
  • Crack codes or write your own for others to crack.

Start the Adventure with Spy School

  • Practice target shooting by throwing balls in a garbage can or catapulting them with a home build trebuche.
  • 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
  • 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.


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-tos and a campfire.

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

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!

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.