Pros: Strong mystery, great characters
Cons: Strong dose of Hallmark cheese
The Bottom Line:
Plenty of strong suspects here
Good movie for fans
Murder of a Parolee
Hallmark’s Hailey Dean franchise has done something their other franchises haven’t started doing yet. When they are given a chance to premier several movies in a row, they weave some threads through all the movies, culminating in the final film. The threads introduced earlier in May came to a head in this week’s movie, Killer Sentence.
If you’ve been watching the movies premiering this month, you’ve seen that Hailey Dean (Kellie Martin) has been involved in a parole hearing for Clayton Morrel (Bradley Stryker), the first inmate she helped convict when she worked in the Atlanta DA’s office. Despite her testimony and that of Paulina (Lauren Holly), the current head of the DA’s office, Clayton still received parole at the end of the second movie. This film picks up four months later as those involved in his case are still trying to deal with his release. Hit worst of all is Paulina. She keeps misplacing work files, and she is trying to monitor Clayton in order to catch him breaking parole so she can send him back to jail.
Hailey is shocked to learn that Clayton has written an autobiography, and he is scheduled to do a book signing at a local bookstore. She shows up to talk to him, only to discover the event has been canceled because he didn’t show up. Worried, she goes to his house and finds him dead. As the evidence piles up against Paulina, Hailey begins to investigate since she knows her friend couldn’t have done it. But can Hailey find the truth?
This was a very strong mystery with multiple suspects. I spent the entire movie alternately suspecting each character and then dismissing them as too obvious. Yet when Hailey does figure it out, it all makes perfect sense.
Of course, the movie does have the usual dose of cheese. As with the others in the franchise, it is stronger than most of the Hallmark movies, but once I get fifteen minutes or so into the film, I’m so hooked on the story that I don’t care anymore because I have to know who done it. Hailey’s creator, Nancy Grace, does get her usual cameo, this time much better than the one from the previous movie.
I do like these characters, as was driven home to me by the sub-plots involving Fincher (Viv Leacock) planning a special evening with his girlfriend and Jonas (Matthew MacCaul) trying to plan a dating anniversary dinner with Hailey. Both are fun and help lighten the movie a little.
And I would say it is official. The ending of the first movie this month was completely ignored once again, not that I expected Hailey to leave her therapy practice to go back to the DA’s office.
If you are a fan of the Hailey Dean movies, you’ll enjoy Killer Sentence. This is another strong mystery featuring characters we’ve come to love.