Award-winning author launches 'whodunit' outdoor mystery guide to put Southsea back on the map

A MYSTERIOUS ‘whodunnit' based on Southsea history has launched and there is an amazing prize waiting for the first people to solve it.

Sunday, 8th August 2021, 6:08 pm

Jack Wells, author and founder of Mystery Guide, is back with his latest adventure.

The Mystery of Southsea' s Laughing Sailor is based on the story of the eponymous attraction from the early 20th century which was damaged or sabotaged in 1910 causing irreparable damage.

Prior to the laughing sailor’s demise, it had proved to be a popular attraction and drew in crowds from far and wide.

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Jack Wells, of Mystery Guides, with his new book

Jack’s latest adventure is described as being a mind-boggling clue based guide for the whole family to enjoy.

His previous work The Mystery of Nelson's Stolen Diamonds saw thousands take part in a quest to solve who stole Nelson's diamonds in Old Portsmouth.

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The new book features maps that guide the reader to each location where adventurers must complete a range of word and number puzzles and cryptic clues related to a particular Southsea spot or landmark to eliminate potential suspects.

Tim Lowe (62) with Ellena Napier (35) at the launch for the new book by Jack Wells, 'The Mystery of Southsea's Laughing Sailor'. Picture: Mike Cooter (060821)

An overnight stay for two at the Queen's Hotel is up for grabs for a pair of lucky people who complete the guide challenge in the next two weeks and uncover the mystery.

Jack said: 'I wanted to do one after Old Portsmouth, which was really successful and a lot of people in the city liked it.

'Southsea was the obvious choice. I wanted to do something for my local area, and that was the inspiration for it.

‘The laughing sailor is something everyone knows in Portsmouth.

'There are still two in Portsmouth. There's one in the museum and one in the dockyard, so I thought, well, that's a great icon of Southsea. I'll use that as the story.

'I wanted to use Southsea Common as the location because it's very iconic. It's bright, green, and has a lot of history as well, with ladies' miles and a lot of the fashionable women of the day used to use that area to parade around.'

Jack's mysterious quest incorporates historical landmarks and events like The Queen's Hotel, built in 1861, the Battle of Southsea and the Mary Rose.

The book encourages people to get involved with Southsea's history and make it a more prominent destination outside of Portsmouth's more obvious tourist spots like Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The mystery starts at Portsmouth City Museum.

Jack explains: 'Each character has a back story. One of the female characters had an ex-husband who was a sailor, so people thought she'd damaged the machine because she was still bitter about her ex-sailor husband.

'You've got a shoeshine boy who's got a grudge against the owner of the machine and an actress who was jealous of the machine's popularity.'

'So everyone has a reason to break the machine, but only one of them did it.'

Jack, the 2021 winner of the Start-Up Business of the Year award in The News Business Excellence Awards, held a book launch at the Queen's Hotel on Friday afternoon.

Actors turned up in traditional costumes, entertaining guests and people in the hotel with their character's backstory from the book.

The Mystery of Southsea's Laughing Sailor is the seventh in Jack Wells' collection and is now available to purchase here.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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