Hunt a Killer Subscription Box

Hunt a Killer is a relatively new subscription service that may be of interest to the true crime, thriller/mystery loving members of the Bitchery. It’s essentially an ongoing, monthly puzzle that will have you poring over the contents of the box, endlessly Googling to work out each piece of “evidence” sent to you.

As of right now, the cost is $30 a month with the first “season” being eight boxes long. But more on that later, since I know some of you (me included) might be intimidated by the subscription cost.

With each box, I guarantee you that your feelings will start with anticipation and move on to utter confusion. I was so excited to receive my first Hunt a Killer box to see how this mystery will start. And admittedly, whatever crime you’re supposed to help solve won’t be clear in the first couple boxes. It’s more about getting your bearings.

The general premise is that you’ve entered into this pen pal-esque program called the Listening Friends of America. Your pen pal could come from a variety of institutions such as prisons, assisted living residences, or mental health facilities. Each box comes with a letter from your pen pal (the same one every time) and a variety of items, most of which won’t make sense right away. Seriously, the first box contained one of those expandable paper ketchup cups you fill at fast food places. What the hell am I going to do with that?

My boyfriend and I decided to work on the first box together and I can assure you that if you work in a group, there will be at least one fight. He was the “good” cop, wanting to catalog every aspect of each item into a spreadsheet. I was the opposite. We had this exchange:

Him: Is the letter typewritten like from a typewriter or is it from a computer?
Me: It doesn’t matter.
Him: Of course it matters. Everything matters!

This box will probably have you making a murder board, complete with red string and triangulated maps.

Charlie form It's Always Sunny in front of a diagram. He hasn't slept and he's chain smoking.

One thing I really loved about the box is that the mystery goes beyond the items they send to you. There are websites to go to and research to be done, and when you figure something out or decipher some clue, it’s such an intense rush. The boxes also provide quite a lot of entertainment and you could easily spend hours upon hours on the first box alone.

Admittedly, it can get frustrating at times when a clue won’t make sense. Quite a bit of patience is required. An item may not fit into the overall mystery until you get another item two or three boxes later. It’s imperative you keep everything from every box. Feelings of defeat and dejectedness were common. It’s a rollercoaster of an experience and I loved it.

Regarding the price, $30 for a month to month plan is a bit steep, but splitting the cost with a group is a great way to offset the price and get friends together. I know the Hunt a Killer staff was trying to get true crime and mystery book club groups to pick up the box and I think that’s a lovely idea. The special Facebook group has photos of people huddled around tables, laptops out, as they work on a box together. I definitely recommend going that route.

But recently Hunt a Killer started a new box. The standard Hunt a Killer monthly subscription operates more like a TV show, with each box as separate episodes in a season with an overarching plot. However, they started a one-time premium box called 1934, which is more like a movie. The mystery starts and is solved in just one box. It’s rather pricey (like really pricey at nearly $300), given that it’s akin to taking several of the regular HaK boxes and putting it into one. They’re taking preorders until June 1st.

You have to “apply” for membership, but eventually everyone gets accepted. Don’t worry! I believe they do this just to manage new subscriptions evenly. Also, everyone starts with box one. There’s no fear of jumping in midway through the mystery.

One other thing I want to mention is that the HaK team is wonderful about responding the community. After surveying some of their members, they made changes to their boxes. They included an item sheet, so subscribers can make sure they received all the contents of the box. I believe they’re also included a “solution” sheet in each box, in case a clue truly stumps you.There is also a great online community that can help if you’d rather be gently nudged in the right direction.

I really loved the experience of this box. It’s a new idea I haven’t seen much before and is a great alternative to spending time with friends or a loved one. The price is high if you’re on your own, and it can be frustrating at times when you feel like you can’t make any more sense of a clue. I can attest that things do progress from box to box and I never felt that I’d be throwing money away on a box that didn’t further the storyline.

If you can split the subscription with friends, I recommend giving it a shot, especially if you’re the kind of person who tries to solve a mystery before any big reveals, whether on TV, in a book, or in a movie.

If you’re curious about trying the Hunt a Killer box, include the code SMART at checkout for 10% off your entire purchase. This is a single-use discount with no expiration date at this time.

For those who wind up trying the box out, let me know what you think!

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