FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: (January 27, 2020)

Contact Name: Ron Carnell
Organization: River Lake Inn
Phone Number: 269-503-1569
Web Site:

Murder Mystery comes to the Magic Capital of the World

COLON — The magic in Colon, Michigan goes all the way back to 1926 when world-famous magician Harry Blackstone made it his home and, like a magnet, started attracting other famous conjurers to the sleepy little village. The Abbott’s Get-Together, held every August, still brings in hundreds of magicians from all over the world and attracts thousands of laity who come to enjoy the gala magic shows offered each night at the local high school.

On January 25, Ron Carnell added murder to that mix.

Carnell has lived in Colon for over twenty years and has been the resident magician at Colon’s local dinner house, River Lake Inn, for the past nine. He typically performs 15 dinner shows a year at the restaurant, each show centered on different magical themes.

Last week, “Murder at the Magic Mansion” was Carnell’s — and Colon’s — first Murder Mystery. Its sold-out success insures it won’t be the last.

What is a murder mystery?

Essentially, it’s a fully immersive play centered on the death of one or more participants. There is no stage and the professional actors for the most part are hidden among the guests. The audience doesn’t just watch the play, they become an integral part of it. Every guest assumes a character role in the on-going story. Some of them will be suspects in the murder. And at least one of them might even be the killer and not know it until all the secrets are revealed.

Most murder mysteries follow a similar format.

Someone dies violently soon after the evening begins. Characters in the story who might have motives, means and opportunities are gathered as the prime suspects in the murder. Clues and forensics are disseminated throughout the rest of the audience and teams are assembled to investigate. Everyone has a chance to question the suspects. By the time dinner concludes the accusations will be flying and the team who comes closest to solving the mystery wins the night’s grand prize.

When Carnell’s first murder mystery sold out several weeks before the performance date he decided to schedule a second performance to handle the overflow. “Murder at the Magic Mansion Redux” will take place on Saturday, February 22, again at River Lake Inn.

The play is set in the early 1920s and those attending are encouraged to dress for the occasion. Carnell, in addition to being a professional magician who was inducted into the Michigan Magic Day Hall of Fame in 2018, also sits on the Board of Directors at the world-famous American Museum of Magic in Marshall. The murder mystery he has written and is directing is loosely based on the actual history of magic as it might have been experienced during the Roaring Twenties. The evening is hosted by Harry Blackrock and many of the other characters played by the audience will be thinly veiled depictions of magicians, celebrities, politicians and mob bosses from that era.

Rumor has it that Hairy Whodini might even make a brief appearance.

The Timid Rabbit, a costume and magic shop located at 2011 W. Main in Kalamazoo, is partnering with River Lake Inn to supply 1920s attire for the event at a substantial discount. There will be prizes awarded not only for solving the mystery but also for the best costumes. Pictures and video will be available as well so that guests can relive the evening for years to come.

Carnell claims his murder mystery was different on several accounts.

First, of course, will be the magic for which Colon is so well known. Illusions were woven into the story and the impossible was commonplace throughout the evening. Many of the guests, those assigned to play the role of magicians, were even given the opportunity to learn and perform a few simple tricks for their investigative team.

Second, Carnell says the food is also be a cut above the usual fare.

“Most of the murder mysteries I’ve attended serve a small dinner salad, followed by a choice between chicken and fish,” says Carnell. “At River Lake Inn our guests have full access to the restaurant’s well equipped salad bar before dinner. And while we’re offering cordon bleu for those who want to avoid red meat, and pasta primavera for those avoiding all meats, most of the guests already signed up are choosing the prime rib option. You don’t see beef, let alone prime rib, at many murder mysteries in Michigan.”

Early Bird tickets for Murder at the Magic Mansion Redux start at $59 and are still available for another few days. The seating is limited and, with four weeks still remaining before opening night, Carnell says almost half of the room is already booked.

River Lake Inn is located at 767 Ralston Road in Colon. Tickets for Murder at the Magic Mansion can be ordered by calling the restaurant at 269-432-2626 or by going to the web site at



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From Hicksville, Ohio, Angie Rice, Hillary Carnahan, Pam Groves and Megan Groves

Colonites Jake and Jana Alexender

Colonites Paula and Richard Livermore

Joe Fusco drove in from Saline with his family. From left to right Ten Hughes, daughter Lisa Hughes, Joe and his wife, Pam, and brother Tony Fusco with his wife Dannette.

With 73 people in attendance, there wasn’t an empty seat in the room.

Ron Carnell performs monthly at River Lake Inn

Detective Teams range from 4 to 8 people and will all sit together

Magic, mystery and murder most foul

River Lake Inn offers a full salad bar during the Murder Mystery

The main dining room at River Lake Inn is an ideal venue for an intimate Murder Mystery

The evening will not end well for someone at the wedding

Someone at your table may die tonight. Someone at your table may be the killer.

River Lake Inn is known for its nature trails and its magic