Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Movie Review: A Puzzle to Die For - The Crossword Mysteries

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong mystery, fun characters
Cons: Usual Hallmark cheese
The Bottom Line:
Clues in a crossword
Another new film franchise
Has promising start

“There are Clues in This Crossword Puzzle.”

As a longtime fan of the Puzzle Lady Mysteries, I was intrigued when Hallmark announced they would be introducing the Crossword Mysteries to their mystery movie franchise line up.  No, there is no connection between the books and the movies other than the fact that some clues to the mystery are hidden in a crossword puzzle.  A Puzzle to Die For is the first movie, and it was lots of fun.

The movie starts with the robbery of an art gallery in New York City.  However, things turn deadly when the owner catches the thief in the act and is shot.  Detective Logan O’Connor (Brennan Elliott) is assigned to the case, and one of the things he finds at the scene is the Sunday crossword puzzle from the New York Sentinel.

Tess (Lacey Chabert) is the crossword puzzle editor at that paper, and her desk is near the desk of the crime reporter.  When she crosses paths with Logan, she finds out about the puzzle.  Intrigued, she looks up that puzzle, which had been submitted by a freelancer.  When she thinks she has found some clues to the theft and murder in the puzzle, she goes to Logan, who dismisses her.  Has she found some clues?  If so, can she get Logan to believe her?

This is a well done mystery.  While I suspected who early on, I was surprised by several of the events along the way and didn’t have a clue as to motive until Tess figured things out.  Yes, she does work closely with Logan, and there are definite sparks there, yet they both reach the solution independently, something I really enjoyed.  There are plenty of viable suspects and red herrings to keep us guessing and entertained until the end.  I do think that there is one thing that was left dangling, but I suspect I know what happened.  (Or I just missed a line that explains things, which is also possible.)

While this movie is fun, there is a more serious tone at times than I was expecting.  It’s not throughout the movie, but it does affect a few scenes.  It was completely appropriate, gives the characters some depth to be explored later, and the actors handled it perfectly.

Speaking of which, there is the usual Hallmark cheese in the movie, but again, it is kept to a minimum.  As a fan of the Murder, She Baked franchise, it was fun to see Barbara Niven pop up at Tess’s aunt who has a connection to the case.

It’s hard to predict who will be the main characters at this point, at least for me, although I am fairly confident about a few of them.  Fortunately, they were characters I liked and can’t wait to visit again.  That’s a good thing since they announced during the movie that we are going to get three more movies in the franchise come October.  It appears that Hallmark is going for franchise marathons more and more this year.

So be sure to get into this new franchise from the beginning.  A Puzzle to Die For will leave you anxious for the next chapter with Tess, Logan, and the rest.


  1. I'm watching this right now and really enjoying it! This is definitely a series I'm looking forward to seeing continuing.

  2. I checked the schedule for this and it says that Episode 2 wont air until 06 Oct 19. Is this right? I enjoyed the first episode and want to see the second one.