ENTERTAINMENT

Hamptons Whodunit 2024 Makes Mystery & Crime Interactive

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graveyard tours at the Hamptons Whodunit festival
Photo: Kelli Porterfield

Fans of true crime and murder mysteries should be thrilled to learn that the wildly successful Hamptons Whodunit festival is returning to East Hampton Village for its second year from Thursday to Sunday, April 11–14.

The four-day festival is loaded with events and activities examining real cases, exploring mystery fiction and hearing multiple experts in the worlds of forensics, detective work, law, local history and much more.

This year’s Hamptons Whodunit will feature thrilling in-person discussions with 22 bestselling fiction authors and 15 internationally renowned true crime experts, along with book signings, and a myriad of interactive activities, mostly taking place within walking distance around East Hampton Village.

There is also special programming for the students of East Hampton High School and panels with bestselling authors, such as Brad Thor, Julia Bartz, S.A. Cosby, Will Dean, A.J. Finn, Jennifer Hillier and, the guest of honor, Ashley Flowers of the Crime Junky podcast, among many others.

Carrie Doyle
Carrie Doyle, Photo: Tanya Malott, Courtesy Dunemere Books

It all follows the model of last year’s blockbuster inaugural festival, but now it’s bigger and better with even more hands-on activities.

“We’re doing almost everything the same, the opening party, the escape room, the panels, but we’re extending our interactive programming,” explains festival co-founder, CEO and President Carrie Doyle, who is also the writer of her own series of popular “cozy mystery” novels.

“One thing we learned is the fastest to sell out are the more interactive experiences, where people are feeling engaged,” Doyle continues. “Those sell fast. People like to be involved, it’s more like kinesthetic learning, puzzle solving…that’s something we expanded this year and I think going forward next year we’ll keep going with that. … People want to be moving around while they absorb information.”

East Hampton Town Crier Hugh King offers graveyard tours at the Hamptons Whodunit festival
Town Crier Hugh King offers graveyard tours at the Hamptons Whodunit festival, Photo: Kelli Porterfield

Interactive events include a new Friday trivia night with fiction authors at Hedges Inn, escape rooms, graveyard tours with Town Crier Hugh King and a Forensics World crime solving simulation experience where guests will actively participate in investigating a murder scenario at the fabled and ultra-exclusive Sea Spray Cottages near Main Beach.

“For the first time in 40 years, the Sea Spray Cottages will be open to the general public,” Doyle says, pointing out that the crime scenario will relate to a true case of arson that occurred there back in 1978.

Guests will also get a chance to try finding a unique take on a real cold case. Wine & Crime has participants become rookie detectives in a simulated homicide unit war room, working with their team and on-hand experts to find new angles on an actual case where detectives are stymied.

Among the many standout speakers and panelists, Saturday’s “Unraveling the JonBenet Ramsey Cold Case” is sure to draw a large audience as attorneys Carey London, a top civil rights lawyer and Hamptons Whodunit organizer, and Jason Goldman examine the 6-year-old pageant queen’s unsolved 1996 murder, which continues to grab headlines nearly 30 years after the horrific event.

To conclude the weekend, Kristin Thorne, an investigative reporter for WABC Channel 7 Eyewitness News and host of Emmy-award winning true-crime series Missing on ABC7NY and Hulu, is screening the Chelsea Cobo episode of Missing, about a then-22-year-old Brooklyn mom who vanished shortly after leaving rehab in 2016. The missing woman’s mother, Rose Cobo, will be joining Thorne at the screening.

Doyle, who acknowledges that fascination with true crime is akin to staring at a car crash, says that the desire to find justice for victims is also a key part of the appeal. “When you drive by a car accident on the highway, do you look or do you turn away?” she asks, adding, “People have a sense of curiosity, and there’s a sense of justice.”

Hamptons Whodunit
Hamptons Whodunit

She also explains that this festival, which is done in partnership with East Hampton Village, is bringing business and activity to town deep into the off-season. “There’s not a lot going on this time of year which is why we picked it,” she says. “We want to be for the people of East Hampton, not just take place in East Hampton,” Doyle continues. “We really want to make sure our prices are always low and we have free events,” she says, adding, “It’s event for the community.”

The Hamptons Whodunit is truly packed full of excellent panels, lectures and activities. A busy schedule of everything, including book signings, talks on the craft of writing and detective work, and much more, is available at hamptonswhodunit.org along with ticket info, participating authors, and locations.


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