Murder by Death: What’s Your Sleuth Style?

Discover which detective spoofed in 1976's Murder by Death suits your own personal sleuth style.

Allow me to name-drop for a moment:

Maggie Smith

Alec Guinness

Peter Falk

Truman Capote

These are just a handful of the faces who populate the ensemble cast of Neil Simon’s madcap Murder By Death, a semi-forgotten farce-cum-murder-mystery-cum-silly social satire. It’s Clue’s literary cousin, rooted in books instead of board games. The conceit is this: eccentric Lionel Twain (Truman Capote) fancies himself to be a great criminologist and invites the world’s foremost living detectives to his crumbling Victorian mansion to solve a perfect murder. The sleuths are loosely-camouflaged homages (say that 3 times fast) to these famous fictional gumshoes:

  • Milo Perrier, based on Christie’s Belgian gourmand Hercule Poiroit, played by James Coco (you go, James Coco!);
  • Sidney Wang, modeled after Earl Derr Biggers’ Charlie Chan, cringingly portrayed by a cross-cultural Peter Sellers;
  • Sam Diamond, a riff on Sam Spade from Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, played by Peter Falk in a familiar rumpled trench coat;
  • Dick and Dora Charleston, a send-up of posh aristocrats Nick and Nora Charles from The Thin Man series, played by the dapper David Niven and an exquisite Maggie Smith.

The whole movie has a sort of community-theater vibe, lots of groaning puns and one-liners and borderline-bawdy double-entendres. But its lavish cast—and their literary counterparts—make it a cult keeper. Today, we bring you a quiz to uncover which one of Murder by Death’s literary lampoons best describes you! (And if you want to take a look before you play, MBD is available for instant streaming on Amazon Prime.)

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