Pros: Great characters and mystery
Cons: A few bits of Hallmark cheese
The Bottom Line:
Death of a young man
Fun characters; twists and turns
New franchise starts well
Hallmark’s First New Mystery Franchise of 2020 Gets Off to a Beautiful Start
Hallmark started several new mystery movie franchises last year, and I noticed that all of them were original characters and set ups. However, for the first new franchise of 2020, they have returned to their habit of turning books into movies, picking the Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries by Philip R. Craig. Things started out well with A Beautiful Place to Die.
Jeff Jackson (Jesse Metcalfe) is a Boston detective forced into an early retirement. He’s moved out to Martha’s Vineyard, where he spent his summers growing up, to live in the house he recently inherited from his father. He’s mostly kept to himself since his move out there, even avoiding his childhood friend Zee (Sarah Lind). The only person who has gone out of his way to interact with Jeff is Police Chief Madieras (Eric Keenleyside), who was Jeff’s father’s best friend and is Zee’s father.
However, Jeff is coaxed into attending a fund raiser one evening, where he witnesses several tense scenes involving a young man. When he finds that young man dead the next morning, he can’t help but help investigate. Will he figure out what happened?
Confession time: I have had the first Martha’s Vineyard mystery, also entitled A Beautiful Place to Die, for years, but I have never gotten around to reading it. Therefore, I can’t speak to how closely they followed the book or anything from the series. However, I suspect that this is very different from the book, or at least the plot of book one since the teaser I’ve read doesn’t sound like what happened here at all.
Having said that, I am not complaining in the slightest. This was a compelling mystery with many great twists and turns. I thought I knew where things were going, but they completely surprised me when Jeff finally figured out who the killer was.
I also appreciated that they gave Jeff some backstory and they attempted to give him some character growth, something that is often lacking in Hallmark’s mystery movie franchises. It was fairly predictable, and the resolution to the character growth got overshadowed by the climax, but it still helped set this movie apart.
I love the characters already. The three I named are obviously the main characters for this franchise, and their relationships are fantastic. There are a couple of fun supporting characters as well that I’m sure we will get to see more of as the franchise goes forward. It helps that the actors do a good job of bringing the characters to life.
Being a Hallmark movie, there is a bit of Hallmark cheese, but it is a tiny bit. Honestly, I’ve watched enough of these movies now that I’m beginning to not notice unless it is pretty major.
Hallmark ran a promo for the next Martha’s Vineyard Mystery already, and I’m looking forward to revisiting these characters in February. Be sure to catch A Beautiful Place to Die in reruns now. It’s a fun start to what looks like a great new franchise.