The Curse of Pandora’s Box: Answers Revealed!

We were so thrilled to offer a take-home murder mystery this season in collaboration with the Big Read. This Greek mythology-themed mystery had you digging through emails, text transcripts, and private journal entries in the hopes of discovering the truth surrounding the mysterious death of Madame Phoebe Gaius.

Now it’s time to reveal the truth!

The suspect who murdered Madame Phoebe is…

Cassandra Troy!

Did you guess correctly?

We gave out roughly 140 take-home mystery kits, and of those who submitted answers, 57% of the them were correct with the second most popular guess being Professor Theus!

So why and how exactly did Cassie kill Madame Phoebe?

It all started with Madame Phoebe’s grandson, Apollo. As a member of a prominent Greek family, Apollo attended many public functions that were covered by journalists. At one of these functions, Apollo met renowned art journalist, Cassandra Troy and asked her out on a date. Cassandra rejected his affection, and Apollo was so offended that he used his Instagram platform to discredit Cassandra’s reports. She was subsequently fired from her job at “To Vima,” but Apollo showed no remorse.

Seeking both the truth and revenge, Cassandra started a personal blog, The Oracle, where she researched the Gaius family and soon uncovered actual scandals associated with both the Acropolis Museum and Madame Phoebe.

These scandals were:

  • In attempts to purchase artifacts that he felt were important, Professor Theus was embezzling funds through the use of a fake cooperation called Pyronix.
  • Madame Phoebe’s granddaughter, Artemis, refused to get married which greatly strained their relationship. Out of pride, Artemis rejected Phoebe’s money, causing her animal sanctuary to suffer financially. Artemis turned to identity theft and fraud to pay the bills.
  • Lord Dio Russo, the museum’s event coordinator, hosted parties with unseemly activities, one of which involved an intern suffering from alcohol poisoning.
  • Madame Phoebe had a tumultuous relationship with her sister, Rhea, involving their inheritance. Rhea, the eldest, was passed over in favor of Phoebe, and this caused tensions in the family
  • Madame Phoebe and Mr. Z, the museum’s curator, were engaged years ago, but Mr. Z was caught in an affair with his personal assistant, and Madame Phoebe broke off the engagement.

Having had experience running a popular gardening blog in her spare time, Cassandra’s new blog gained traction, particularly with other media outlets like the gossip journal, Kous Kous, which hired her on as a social media journalist. This gave Cassandra a little more access to the family, and she truly thought if their secrets were revealed, it would destroy them.

No one believed her, and Madame Phoebe sent a Cease and Desist out, threatening a lawsuit. Cassandra sent flowers to Madame Phoebe as a peace offering, but the threat within the flowers, the “devil’s bread” or poisonous hemlock flower, didn’t go unnoticed. Cassandra was enraged that no one believed her about the scandals at the museum or the wrongs this family was committing.

After the Cease and Desist was sent, Cassandra decided to torment Madame Phoebe with the truth by sending her the box with all of the evidence. She also started stalking her, leading Phoebe to believe she was seeing shadows.

On the day of Mythos Fantastikos, Cassandra used the party’s disorganization to her advantage, swiping a press pass and sneaking about in the kitchens. An avid gardener, Cassandra knew that hemlock would be mistaken for another leafy green and placed it on Madame Phoebe’s plate of ambrosia salad. Madame Phoebe suffered from coniine poison, a toxic chemical found in hemlock. The hemlock is a nod to the death of Socrates, the Greek philosopher.

What mythology-based clues hinted at the true killer?

Besides the evidence in the documents, a few clues based upon Greek mythology were included. Seven Greek gods were presented in the box as well as six items. These gods were associated with the seven deadly sins, and the items correlated to the gods. The gods also correlated to the seven suspects.

  • Plutus and coins = greed, Professor Theus
  • Eros and roses = lust, Mr. Z
  • Adephegia and grapes = gluttony, Lord Dio
  • Lyssa and sword = wrath, Cassandra
  • Phthonus and eye = envy, Countess Rhea
  • Hybris and mirror = pride, Artemis
  • Aergia and no item (due to laziness) = sloth, Apollo

In Madame Phoebe’s journal entry, she said that the statue of the goddess, Lyssa, seemed to be watching her and that she believed the goddess of wrath to be the most feared. Also below Cassandra’s blog was a quote from the Greek dramatist, Menander, that said “the sword the body wounds, sharp words the mind” referencing both the power of words and the power of the sword.

What other connections to Greek mythology were in the story?

Each suspect was inspired by a Greek god or goddess. Readers could say that it’s all a coincidence or they can decide if perhaps these suspects were in fact gods disguised as mortals. It’s up to you!

Madame Phoebe = the Titaness, Phoebe

Phoebe’s last name comes from a blend of Uranus and Gaia, the titans’ parents. Phoebe also had twin grandchildren, Apollo and Artemis. In mythology, Zeus actually had a relationship with Phoebe’s daughter, Leto, but Letitia (the personal assistant) is a nod to her.

The Trojan Priestess, Cassandra

Cassandra Troy = the Trojan priestess, Cassandra

The story goes that when Cassandra rejected the god Apollo, he cursed her to always speak of true prophecies but that no one would believe her.

Apollo Barros = the Greek god, Apollo

Apollo talks about “keeping things shiny” and “bringing things into the light” referencing the sun. Apollo also puts himself into the light via the most modern method; Instagram!

Artemis Barros = the Greek goddess, Artemis

The goddess Artemis is a hunter and protector of wildlife, hence Artemis Barros running an animal sanctuary. The god Orion is actually one of Artemis’ closest companions, and all the names of the identities that Artemis stole are names that the goddess also used.  

Lord Dio Russo = the Greek god, Dionysus

Like Dionysus, the god of wine, Lord Dio loves to party hard, sometimes with reckless abandon. The reference to “Dove Coeur” is actually a nod to Aphrodite and her relationship with the Greek god.

Mr. Z = The Greek god, Zeus

Though in the myths, Zeus had a relationship with Phoebe’s daughter, Leto, we reference it in the story with the mention of Letitia, the assistant who broke up their engagement.

Professor Theus = The Greek god, Prometheus

Professor Theus is embezzling money to purchase items that he thinks are important. He is sending this money to a fake organization called Pyronix, referencing the story of Prometheus’ gift of fire to the humans. His first name, Metis, is also a Greek word meaning “magical cunning.”

Countess Rhea Crohn = the Greek goddess, Rhea

The goddess Rhea is really Phoebe’s sister in mythology and though she was considered “the mother of the gods,” she had no real following or place of worship. Similar to the story’s Rhea, the goddess Rhea was slighted by the more popular deities. The goddess Rhea did marry Cronus which is noted by our Rhea’s last name.

We hope you all enjoyed taking this mystery home and exploring the clues and story. Thank you to all of you for participating, and be on the lookout for more mysteries like this coming to the Derby Public Library soon!

What’s Ashley Reading?: Lore

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

First line: Her mother had once told her the only way to truly know someone was to fight them.

Summary: Every seven years the gods of Olympus are made mortal and hunted by the descendants of legendary heroes. It’s called the Agon. During the last Agon, Lore Perseous walked away from the hunt and its world. But when the new Agon begins she is drawn back in by an old friend and the goddess Athena. As she binds herself to the goddess she is pulled back into this world she abandoned with the hopes of avenging the deaths of her family or die trying.

My Thoughts: I’d describe this as Percy Jackson meets The Purge. The gods of Olympus are fighting for their lives for one week every seven years. And if a god is killed by a mortal hunter then the hunter will gain the powers and immortality of that god.

I first started listening to this and had a hard time following everything. There was a lot of information dumped at the beginning describing the event and participants. So I switched to the text format and was completely engrossed after that. Lots of action, mythology and twists.

I enjoyed the characters even though most of them fell into the typical young adult tropes. Lore is the angry, tough girl hero. There is a love interest. Villains. Double crossings. It has it all. But I did not feel like it was a book set into a pattern. The idea was inventive and story was exciting. I did find the middle to be a little stretched and drawn out but it did give information that helped bring about the ending.

FYI: Lots of death and violence.

Mama Lala Reads: Maya and the Rising Dark

My Thoughts (SPOILERS): This book makes me want to research. I know I’ve heard of the Orisha before…

First Line: “T- minus five days.”

Summary: There is magic in this world, and the rest, and nobody knows it. One day Maya watches the color drain from the world, and wonders if she is going crazy. Then her dad disappears– literally– and Maya knows something is going on. When the truth is revealed to her, she knows she must go save her father.

Rating: 4.5 stars! I know something about this book must not be perfect, but I cannot think of it!

My Thoughts (SPOILERS): This book makes me want to research. I know I’ve heard of the Orisha before, I believe it is an African folklore, but i want to KNOW. I want to compare these characters to the Gods they are based on. I want to dive deep into the mythology.

A little warning, I wanted to read this book with my daughter, who is 9. I’m a little glad I didn’t. Some kids could handle this book at that age, and others would have nightmares. I’m not sure which side my girl would land on, and that is why I’m glad I didn’t share. The villain is quite creepy, and he can kill you in your dreams (which is why I was timid to share with my young one).

All in all, it’s a wonderful book, just be sure your creepy kid won’t get nightmares before you bring it home to them.

You can check it out at the library via the link above. Hope to see you soon.

Happy Reading my friends,

Chelsea (Mama Lala)

Early April new releases

Cover of The Female Persuasion by Meg WolitzerApril 3: The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
From Goodreads: “Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer- madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place- feels her inner world light up. And then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she’d always imagined.

Cover of Dread Nation by Justina IrelandApril 3: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (young adult)
Zombies, Gettysburg, and combat schools to put down the dead. What’s not to love? It’s the Civil War, and at the battles of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville, the dead begin to walk, completely derailing the war and changing the country forever. The safety of the country’s citizens lies in the hands of a relatively few people. New laws require certain people to attend combat schools where they learn to put down the dead. And for Jane McKeene, this means more opportunity than she would have had otherwise as she studies to become an Attendant, and trains in weaponry and etiquette to prepare to protect the well-to-do.

Cover of A Necessary Evil by Abir MukherjeeApril 3: A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee
In this followup to A Rising Man, Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant “Surrender-Not” Banerjee are called upon to solve the mystery of the assassination of the heir to the throne of the kingdom of Sambalpore. Prince Adhir was a moderniser, but his attitudes and romantic relationship may have upset the religious elements of his country. But the new heir, Prince Adhir’s brother, appears to be an irresponsible playboy. As Wyndham and Banerjee work to untangle the mystery of the murder, they find themselves in a race to find the murderer before the murderer finds them.

Cover of Macbeth by Jo NesboApril 5: Macbeth by Jo Nesbo (Hogarth Shakespeare)
Famed crime writer Jo Nesbo tackles the classic story of Macbeth. From Goodreads: “Set in a dark, rainy northern town, Nesbo’s Macbeth pits the ambitions of a corrupt policeman against loyal colleagues, a drug-depraved underworld and the pull of childhood friendships. Get ready to helter-skelter through the darkest tunnels of human experience.

Cover of Circe by Madeline MillerApril 10: Circe by Madeline Miller
Circe is the daughter of a Titan, but without the powers of either her mother or her father. Because she is such a strange child, she turns to the mortal world for companionship, where she learns she is not powerless. She discovers that she possesses the power of witchcraft, which allows her to transform her rivals into monsters. Threatened by this discovery, Zeus banishes Circe to a deserted island, but this just allows Circe to hone her craft.

Cover of Love and Other Words by Christina LaurenApril 10: Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
A then-and-now story of love. Macy is a pediatrics resident who is busy planning her wedding to a financially secure older man. She has a plan — keep her head down and her heart tucked away. Then she runs into Elliott, the love of her life, around whom her whole world used to revolve. From the teenage Elliott and Macy who grow from friends to much more, to the adult Elliott and Macy who have become strangers until their chance reunion, this story explores what happens when love gets a second chance.

 

Book Review: Warbringer

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

First line: You do not enter a race to lose.

Summary: Diana was born on an island of immortal women called the Amazons. Her mother is the queen of the Amazons. She has never been off the island or even met a man. When Diana sees a shipwreck off the coast of the island, she breaks the laws of her people and rescues a young girl from the wreckage. However, once Alia, a young student, is brought onto the island mysterious things begin to happen. In order to save her home and her fellow Amazons Diana has to take Alia off the island and break the curse associated to her lineage and blood.

Highlights: I loved the Wonder Woman movie so I had to read this! I have never read anything by Leigh Bardugo but I will have to now. I liked the adventure and action. It was fast paced and fun. This was a good reimagining of one of the best female superheroes. Diana is strong willed and brave. She is a role model for young girls.

Lowlights: I was thrown off at the beginning because the story takes place in modern times. Diana is a teenager that is still training to be an Amazon. This is a different spin and completely different from the movie. It took me a while to get used to the idea but it worked well.

FYI: This is the first in the DC Icons series. Next is Batman by Marie Lu, Catwoman by Sarah J. Maas and Superman by Matt de la Pena.