Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Movie Review: Mystery 101 - Deadly History

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good mystery; main trio in fine form
Cons: Usual Hallmark cheese; that cliffhanger ending
The Bottom Line:
Search for relative
Interesting mystery
Ruined by the end

The Mystery of the Missing Uncle

I’d kind of forgotten that the last Mystery 101 movie left us with a cliffhanger.  But as I sat down to watch Deadly History, the newest in the series, the ending of the last movie came rushing back to me (okay, so catching the last couple minutes of the last movie also helped), so I was ready to see what they would make of that ending.

Literature professor Amy Winslow (Jill Wagner), her father, best-selling mystery author Graham (Robin Thomas), and their friend, detective Travis Burke (Kristoffer Polaha) have arrived in Ithaca, New York, to try to find Graham’s younger brother, Alister.  No one has heard form Al for several days, and the local police don’t have any leads to where he might be or what might have happened to him.  While the obvious answer is foul play (especially in a mystery movie), Amy and Travis quickly find clues that point to Al having left voluntarily.  If he did, why is there blood in his home?  Will they find him?  Or is it already too late?

With the action taking place out of town, we only have our three leads in this movie.  While I did miss the rest of the regulars, it is hard to complain since I love these characters, their relationships, and the chemistry the actors have.  And the new characters are interesting.  Most of them are suspects in one form or another, but they still help make the movie fun.

Because of how close the mystery hits to the characters, I didn’t feel like this one had quite the same level of banter as the earlier movies in the franchise, but that’s fine.  There were still some moments that made me smile as I watched.

And the mystery?  It was strong.  There were several possibilities that needed to be investigated.  I suspected which would turn out to be the real reason the Al was missing early on, but I missed a lot of the particulars to the story until Amy and Travis wrapped things up for us.

There is still a light dose of Hallmark cheese to the movie in both the acting and writing.  But if I weren’t able to look past that, I wouldn’t be watching these movies, right?

Regular viewers of Hallmark mystery movies will recognize Peter Benson, one of the guest stars, as Detective Arthur Smith from the Aurora Teagarden movies.  I got a kick out of seeing him pop up here playing someone different.

Which brings us to the ending.  Once again, we are left with a cliffhanger.  No, I won’t spoil it.  However, I was very frustrated by it.  It is a horrible soap opera ending.  And the thing is, they don’t need to leave us with cliffhangers.  Hallmark mystery movie viewers are loyal.  We will gladly tune in for another story with our favorite characters; we don’t need to be pulled back for another movie with a cliffhanger.  Especially one as purely manipulative as this one.  I hope this is a trend that stops here and doesn’t infect the rest of the movie franchises on the channel and doesn’t pop up again at the end of the next movie.

It’s a shame we got a cliffhanger to ruin what was an otherwise enjoyable Hallmark mystery movie.  If you are a fan of Mystery 101, you’ll enjoy Deadly History.  Just be prepared to be frustrated by the last couple of minutes.


  1. I was out of character. I do like mysterious cliffhangers but that one just didn't "fit".

  2. I agree totally, it took about 5 movies for the romance to develop, then they foretell its ending before the main characters are even married, pretty obvious Hallmark producers are clueless to who their audience is. So after all that the Mystery 101 fans will tune in to see that romance destroyed? Clueless.

  3. I agree with most of what you said. However, the cliffhanger really did not bother me as it has some. I think it's interesting and keeps you wondering, as mysteries do. I totally get it that some people don't want to wait to see what's going to happen. I'm just not one of those people. Yes, I'll be back regardless, and I just hope that the cliffhanger isn't a let down. I don't want them to split. Waited too long for them to be a couple.

  4. I love this series, but haven't seen this one yet. I'm looking forward to it. Thanks for your thoughts.

  5. Hello Mark! I enjoyed reading your review & getting your take. I reviewed this movie on my blog, too, and really enjoyed it - the suspenseful cliffhanger and all! I just can't get enough of this particular series; plus, I also thought it was great fun to see Peter Benson in this role... I only wish we could've seen more of him.

    By the way, I just followed you through Bloglovin'... looking forward to future reviews! :)

  6. I have enjoyed these movies since they started. I was good with how this was ended...then the 11 months later thing. As soon as that came up, I had a bad feeling.

  7. I agree the ending ruined it. If anything happens to Travis and Amy I won’t be watching mystery 101 anymore. We watch these movies to escape, life is stressful enough as it is. The only thing worse than Travis and Amy breaking up would be Aurora and Nick if that happens I’m canceling Hallmark murder in mystery LOL!!!