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Item - Who Killed Harlowe Thrombey?

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(Original edition)
(Book club edition)
(Book club edition)
(Book fair edition)
(Seventh printing)
(Seventh printing)
(Seventh printing)
(Seventh printing)
(Revised cover edition)

Combined Summary

Series: Choose Your Own Adventure (1979-1998) — no. 9
Contained In: Choose Your Own Adventure Box Set 2 (6-10) (Collection)
Translated Into: Bay Thrombey'i kim öldürdü? (Turkish)
Chi ha ucciso Harlowe Trombey? (Italian)
Dàfùwēng zhī Sǐ [大富翁之死] (Chinese)
Die Geheim van Burgershof (Afrikaans)
Hvem myrdede Harry Thorne? (Danish)
Ko je ubio Harloa Trombija? (Serbo-Croatian)
Koj go ubi Harlo Trombi (Macedonian)
Nork hil zuen H. Thrombey? (Basque)
Quem matou H. Thrombey? (Portuguese)
Quem matou Harold Taylor? (Portuguese)
Qui a tué Edouard Balaruc? (French)
Qui va matar H. Thrombey? (Catalan)
¿Quién mató a H. Thrombey? (Spanish)
¿Quién mató al presidente? (Spanish)
Satsujinzhan wa dare da [殺人犯はだれだ] (Japanese)
Siapa pembunuh Harlowe Thrombey? (Indonesian)
Wie vermoordde Hendrik Hoek (Dutch)
Author: Packard, Edward
Illustrators: Granger, Paul (pseudonym used by Hedin, Don)
Mattingly, David B. (Revised cover edition - cover)
Date: February, 1981 (Original edition)
ISBNs: 0553143573 / 9780553143577 (Original edition)
0553163531 / 9780553163537 (Book club edition)
0553163795 / 9780553163797 (Book fair edition)
0553209124 / 9780553209129 (Seventh printing)
0553231812 / 9780553231816 (Revised cover edition)
0942545133 / 9780942545135 (Hardcover edition)
Length: 122 pages
Number of Endings: 14
User Summary: A rich man call you and asks for help when he feels his life is in danger... Eventually (as the title gives away), you find yourself trying to solve a murder case.
Demian's Thoughts:

This is a very well-designed gamebook. It has excellent (but not absolutely perfect) continuity and consistency, more-interesting-than-usual characters, and a clear goal (the solution of the mystery) to work towards.

More reviews by Demian

Enigmatic Synergy's Thoughts:

What a great, little book! I thoroughly enjoyed this one, as I feel that this book truly is a showcase of the excellent author and storyteller that is Edward Packard. The plot here is simple: trying to solve a murder in the classic "whodunit" sense. Packard, as always, is great at staying in the world of his books; this one is no different, as it is focused and stays on topic of the story to keep the reader interested and engaged. I also enjoyed just about every single ending in this one -- something that I do not think I have ever said about a CYOA book. As in many of Packard's works, the consistency is excellent and many threads of the book cleverly loop back into each other at sensible times. Overall, I highly recommend this one, as I believe it is truly one of the better CYOA books.

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Good's Thoughts:

Could've been done much more perplexing than it is. I solved the case each time. 14 endings are perfect, but nah. Not my kind of adventure. The funniest end is where the worst police officer solves the mystery--that's how easy it is. Packard's worst by far--and that's saying a lot for THE best author in the series!

More reviews by Good

Guillermo's Thoughts:

This is not the first gamebook to cast the reader as a detective (a few of the Tracker Books used this idea before). Nonetheless, this entry by maestro Edward Packard set the stage for later detective series such as Sherlock Holmes Solo Mysteries and Webs of Intrigue. As other reviewers have mentioned, the solution to the murder mystery is the same no matter which path the reader takes (a factor which reduces the suspense somewhat in subsequent reads). However, there are several different ways to solve the mystery, all of which require careful choices. Overall, this is a very entertaining and involving gamebook which everyone should take the time to read. Two thumbs up.

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hintoffilm's Thoughts:

I have recently gotten back into CYOA books, over 10 years since I first read them as a kid. One of the ones I was most excited to get a hold of again was Harlowe Thrombey, largely because its straightforward premise (solving a murder) makes it a bit more engaging than the traditional, tangential CYOA books. Reading again did not disappoint. It's relatively easy to follow but a fun one to solve and allows you to pay attention to the details, from which you can make choices. Of the handful I've reread, this is my favorite, a classic.

Also, I remembered one of the pages exactly as it looked from the first time I read it. Page 101 (I didn't remember the number) is a great page, featuring a long list of potential page options and directions to go. One of a few fun details to this classic CYOA.

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noonxnoon's Thoughts:

I picked this book due to the reviews on this site and I am glad I did.

Out of the Choose Your Own Adventure series, this certainly is a gem. I agree with the other reviewers in regards to the complexity of the book design as well as the depth of characters. There were subtle clues that passed by from time to time and one could interpret them in a couple of different ways, adding to the mystery.

The illustrations were some of the best in the series and added much detail and flavor... but I must say the illustration of Prufrok near the end of the book detaining an individual was a bit disturbing!!!

The only complaint I have is several choices you make end up leading you to the ultimate answer to the case. The first time I read the book, I was investigating one individual and next thing I know I was tied to a chair and then the police come in and the case was fully revealed. This is the case for several other paths you take that were incorrect, but still everything was reveled. I would rather you reach a sequence that in order to win you would almost need to call it out like in the game Clue, where you state the person and place (We already know the murder weapon!). This could give the reader incentives to investigate more and to tie the clues together instead of the case being solved by chance.

All in all a good read and recommended.

More reviews by noonxnoon

ontcanada2005's Thoughts:

The beginning didn't draw enough sympathy to Harlowe, and if had, it would have engaged the reader much more. "President of Plastic Company?" Additionally, it made it seem that he knew what was going to happen, and allowed it to happen, removing additional sympathy. He would do anything to make his wife happy, and if she wanted him dead, would he kill himself? (just a rhetorical question). Then, it asks you to pick up where Harlowe left off, without any emotional reason to do so, except to outwit "Jenny Mudge." So motivation was low, but illustrations were extremely effective at displaying what was being portrayed. Choices seemed too numerous at times, but the Falcon "trail" was fairly engaging.

More reviews by ontcanada2005

Scrumptious's Thoughts:

Love the concept, but it didn't quite work for me. A good mystery provides the reader with enough information to solve the case while making it tricky at the same time. This book makes it difficult to get the information you need in an efficient way. Most choices involve deciding which suspect to interview; the suspect gives you a tiny piece of information, and then the plot jumps ahead. You have a much better chance if you cheat and interview multiple suspects at each opportunity. Or don't cheat, manage to avoid being at the mansion when Thrombey is killed, and the police will give you a full summary of all of the suspects' statements the next day, information that you could otherwise spend the whole book chasing down. As it was, my first time through I managed to solve the case using information I had not actually uncovered. So there was no mystery upon rereading. With a few small tweaks this book could work a lot better than it actually does.

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stonemason's Thoughts:

In many ways, this seems like the most unusual of the original 10 books in this series. It's structured a lot differently; in fact, it seems almost game-like. I say this because many times in the book you are asked to make decisions. Many of the choices don't at first appear to be of any consequence, since they converge back together again. But later on you are asked what decision you made before, and the plot paths diverge again, this time leading to different outcomes.

Also, it seems a lot more open-ended, since you are often given more than just two choices at a decision point... one of the dilemmas has 12 possible choices to make! I really like this different structure, and I wonder why it wasn't used in any later books.

This book is also very internally consistent, but that is perhaps its biggest (and possibly only) flaw, since after you've solved the mystery the first time, you know exactly how the crime was committed, which not only makes it much easier to win the second time around, it also seriously diminishes the motivation to read it again. It would be nice, though, to see this type of open-ended format applied to a more complex plot than a simple whodunit (so you don't learn the whole thing during any one read), which could lead to a very, very good mystery gamebook.

All in all, this is much better than most of the other early books in the series, and I highly recommend it, especially since the characterization is very good.

More reviews by stonemason

Waluigi Freak 99's Thoughts:

I just loved this gamebook. My favorite in the Choose Your Own Adventure series, Who Killed Harlowe Thrombey? is a well-executed mystery. The clever problem of all of the suspects having alibis is unique and requires a bit of abstract thinking.

All of the characters are much less bland than they usually are in these types of books. Prufrock is a stereotypical bumbling detective who actually adds to the story rather than detracting from it. Falcon's gruff greeting during the apartment confrontation provides some insight as to which choice to make. None of the choices seem arbitrary and the consequences are logical.

The consistency is nearly perfect, although a few minor continuity errors can crop up when you do things in a certain order, but none of them are really serious and aren't noticeable unless you look hard.

I agree that, after reaching a conclusion, you're not really motivated to read the story again. However, some of the endings only reveal a bit of the case. If you want to know everything that happened, you have to read through the book at least a couple of times.

Overall, this book is great, and I'd recommend it to anyone.

More reviews by Waluigi Freak 99

Special Thanks:Thanks to Ken G. for the book club edition cover scans and to Ian Regan for the reissue cover scan.
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Users with Extra Copies: Blame it on Rio
exaquint - text spine, 1.50, 7th
jcdugger - Good condition. Ebay item #: 270103580882
kinderstef - x 3 (2 x classic, 1 x david mattingly cover)
ntar - 3
Von Scotty

Known Editions

Original edition
Book club edition
Book fair edition
Seventh printing
Hardcover edition
Revised cover edition

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