Is your go-to beach read a juicy mystery novel? Is your favorite podcast about a thrilling investigation of an elusive killer? Are you obsessed with the true crime genre?
If so, you’re in luck: the inaugural Hamptons Whodunit, aka the Hamptons Mystery & Crime Festival, hits the streets of East Hampton starting this Friday morning.
Created with fans of the genre in mind, the festival is a three-day celebration of all-things mystery and crime, slated to include readings, book signings and panel discussions along with interactive scenarios, like escape rooms, bus tours, graveyard tours and role-playing challenges.
“There’s such a thirst for true crime stories right now across streaming, TV and film and most of the content originates with books, including some of mine and my colleagues,” says true crime author and festival participant Dave Wedge. “This festival is a great opportunity for true crime and mystery fans to come out and meet some amazing authors, find out about new stories or ones they may not know yet and really get a behind-the-scenes look at how true crime stories actually come together.”
There’s no question it’s going to be a unique and active itinerary with plenty of participants, as the roster includes nearly 50 authors along with several crime experts, journalists, law enforcement experts and members of the film and television community for attendees to interact with. Guests of honor include bestselling authors Michael Connelly, Lisa Jewell and Anthony Horowitz. Documentary film producer and director Maiken Baird, Emmy-award winning producer and writer Kristin Thorne and award-winning journalist Steve Kroft from 60 Minutes will be on hand as moderators and special guests.
There’s also plenty of local authors participating, like Helen Harrison (director of Pollack-Krasner House in Springs), East Hampton resident Eve Carlin and Randye Lordon, another East Hampton resident whose latest book She’s Dead, Who Cares?, hilariously follows the journey of a Hamptons-based concierge solving a murder mystery.
The event officially kicks off this Thursday, April 13, with an already sold-out cocktail party at the Maidstone Club. Beginning Friday, April 14, and continuing through Sunday, April 16, there will be a slew of book signings, panel discussions and talks starting around 10 a.m. and continuing all day long. Catch them at village locales like BookHampton, East Hampton Library, East Hampton Middle School, and the Thomas and Mary Nimmo Moran Studio.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, town crier and historian Hugh King leads the Goody Garlick Tour at 5 p.m., free of charge and rain or shine, at the graveyard in front of the Gardiner Windmill at 28 James Lane. There’s a “happy hour” at The Palm (At Huntting Inn) on Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. where guests can mingle with authors and enjoy apps and drinks. Tickets are $60.
For the full schedule of book signings, author talks and other events of the festival click here. Although some of the events are sold out, there are still plenty of tickets and passes available here.
Co-founded by East Hampton Village trustee Carrie Doyle, the festival came about while she was on the campaign trail hearing the needs of residents for more approachable, off-season activities.
“The Hamptons Mystery & Crime Festival was founded by myself, Mayor Jerry Larsen, Lisa Larsen and Jackie Dunphy,” Doyle says. “We started working on it in September. When I was running for East Hampton Village trustee last summer, people asked what we could do to bring more business into East Hampton Village in the off-season. They wanted more programming, more community events that were affordable (and some free) and a way to increase foot traffic in the business center.”
Doyle herself is a bestselling mystery writer noting her love for the genre. “I love mysteries and crime and committee member [and friend] Pam Mallory suggested we have a literary mystery festival,” she says. “We also decided to add in true crime and interactive programming. I mentioned this on the campaign trail, the mayor loved the idea, and thus the Hamptons Whodunit was born.”
According to Doyle, the festival will be held exclusively in East Hampton Village to help bring customers to the local businesses, inns and restaurants. In addition, she notes, this is the first East End event of this sort that will include programming for the Spanish speaking population, with a panel focusing on Latinx authors (Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the library).
“We are working with East Hampton Library to offer free escape rooms, a young panel and a Latinx panel,” says Doyle. “If all goes well, this will be an annual occurrence, much like the Hamptons International Film Festival. We consider this the bookend of the off season—film festival in October, mystery festival in April.”
Among the dozens of authors slated to appear is honorary co-founder and bestselling author Alafair Burke. Burke is a former prosecutor, presently teaching criminal law and splitting her time between Manhattan and East Hampton.
“I was so thrilled my fellow author and village trustee Carrie Doyle told me that the town was going to host a mystery-themed weekend for the public to enjoy before summer kicks into full gear,” Burke says. “The roster of talented authors coming together in one place is truly impressive. I can’t wait.”