Fans of Poirot, Sherlock and Death in Paradise now have a splendid opportunity to don their deerstalkers and twirl their moustaches as they sift through clues over dinner at The Den, and last night we were fortunate to have a front row seat and access to all the suspects in the mysterious case of a golden sculpture, a violent death and more than one very tangled relationship.

The evening was presented by a talented quintet of first year BA performing arts students at Hereford College of Arts, and from the moment we arrived to be greeted by members of the cast, we were pretty sure we were in for something a bit different.

And so it proved. Set in the heat of India as war clouds gathered in Europe, we were treated to a story with as many holes in as a cheese grater … but how to get to the truth? It was clear that nothing and no one were what they seemed, but close questioning of everyone involved brought us close – or so we thought – to a solution.

The denouement was delivered in classic style and deeply hidden motives were revealed before the real killer (not who we thought, not even on our radar!) was unmasked.

This was clever, it was fun and it was something out of the ordinary, delivering entertainment outside the black box of a theatre and thoroughly engaging … not to mention very slightly competitive!

The script by course director Mia Gordon was packed full of red herrings, Machiavellian motives and misdirection, and the mix of audience participation and Indian-themed dinner led to a suspension of disbelief and a genuine sense of involvement.

So successful was the five students’ first murder mystery evening at The Den that the restaurant offered their new company, ICE Performing Arts Company, a contract for further events.

It is part of the philosophy of the Performing Arts degree course, led by Mia Gordon and Gillian Hipp, to prepare students for a life working in their chosen industry. ICE, founded by Mark Gillespie, Trafford Irvine, Thomas Chapman, Gabrielle Grant, Rees Matthews, aims to create innovative productions and performance in unusual places and formats.

So, next time you’re shouting at the telly as your favourite fictional detective misses a clue the size of a bus, find out when ICE’s next murder mystery evening is scheduled at The Den, sharpen your wits, book a table and put yourself to the test!