Miss Conduct

Advice: I know a secret. Do I fess up?

I’m invited to a murder mystery dinner party, but I already know who the murderer is. Plus, are thank-you cards passé?

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A friend is hosting a murder mystery party. She gave my husband our character sheets and I accidentally saw his — he’s the murderer! Do I fess up to the host? Bow out of the party? Lie and wow my friends with my terrific skills of deduction?

D.D. / Medford

Confess, you gun moll, you! Tell your host, so she can adjust the game for you and your husband to play as a team. Otherwise, you’ll either ruin everyone else’s fun by solving it with your ill-gotten knowledge, or drive yourself crazy trying not to give anything away in the moment.


Did your friend really not expect that you and your husband would discuss this? She was expecting an awfully high level of omerta for game night!

My husband and I have no children, but friends we “adopted” and made our sole inheritors. They live in a different state and have two exemplary children, so we see them only sporadically. Recently, their eldest was accepted to a prestigious college, and we gave her a check for $500 during a cookout at our house. The daughter was very grateful, but I have not received a written card, the way I was taught to follow up. Has note writing gone the way of black and white TVs? I want to say something to the parents because this has happened before.

K.C. / Lowell

I don’t see any way that such a conversation could strengthen a friendship, especially one that seems unequal to begin with. (Presumably your heirs are not your age, and the inheritance matters financially.)

You have known for years and years this couple do not practice thank-you-note writing in the same way you do. There is no way to request that their expressions of gratitude be made more pleasing to your sensibilities that will not sound . . . imperious, at the least. Many people only do thank-yous for gifts received by mail or left on a gift table — i.e., when the giver wasn’t thanked in person and the note also serves as reassurance the gift arrived.


You know the girl was grateful, and her social skills are apparently adequate for a good college, so dig a little deeper on your discontent. Your letter drips with subtext: “exemplary,” “prestigious.” Something appears charged for you in this situation, and the missing thank-you note is only a signpost pointing to it.

Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.