Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Wonderful premise, fun characters
Cons: Hallmark production values, weak mystery
The Bottom Line:
Crime scene from a book
Jennifer makes connection
Weaker but still fun
By the Book Killer
A killer using methods and setting scenes based on classic mysteries – as soon as I heard the premise of the latest Garage Sale Mystery from Hallmark, I was hooked. It sounds so promising. While I certainly enjoyed how that played out, I found The Novel Murders a step back for the franchise overall.
One afternoon, a man walks into Rages to Riches, the second hand store that Jennifer Shannon (Lori Loughlin) runs with her best friend Dani (Sarah Strange). He is quite interested in an item that Jennifer has almost finished doing some touch up to. Since he can’t wait until the paint dries, Dani volunteers Jennifer to deliver it to him later.
Which is how Jennifer comes to find the stranger dead on the floor of his apartment later that day. Several things about the crime scene strike her as odd, like she’s read it before. Certain the crime scene is based on a classic mystery, she starts reviewing the books from her collection. When she finds the connection, it makes her worry that the killer will strike again. Can she stop it from happening?
As I said, the premise was excellent, and I certainly enjoyed watching how it played out. I’m not familiar enough with the classic mysteries to make the connections before Jennifer did, but I did recognize the authors discussed. Unfortunately, I figured out the killer by the half-way point. I had fun watching how everything came together for the characters, but they really needed another viable suspect or two.
My standard disclaimer for this franchise holds true again – this is a series with lots of cheese. It is a Hallmark movie, after all. Remember that when you sit down to watch it. Not that the acting is bad – the cast is fine. It’s the entire presentation that gives off that vibe.
Jennifer’s husband and son are involved in a sub-plot about a father/son camping trip. It didn’t add much to the movie overall, but I found it lots of fun. And I must admit, I’m still not completely okay with Connor Stanhope as son Logan. He’s fine in the part, but I miss the original actor who played the character.
In fact, I’ve grown to really like all of these characters. Even though the mystery wasn’t the best in the series, it was still fun to hang out with them and see what is happening in all of their lives.
While Jennifer’s store gets us involved in the case, that’s about all there is in the way of garage sale tie in.
Of Hallmark’s mystery movie franchises, this one has had the weakest mysteries. While, The Novel Murders presents a weak mystery, the premise will please classic mystery fans, and the characters will please fans of the franchise.