Garage Sale Mystery: The Art of Murder (2016)

If you can get over a bunch of sorority girls asking their moms to help organize a charity garage sale, then go ahead and enjoy this movie. But it takes a generous suspension of belief and perhaps even more withholding of judgment before one can move on to the actual mystery, which is a fine once you get there. Still, I’m throwing serious side eye at Hannah (Eva Bourne), daughter of garage sale expert Jennifer (Lori Loughlin), for volunteering her mom to do a job she, as an adult woman, should handle herself. This, in case you don’t know, is what privilege looks like – white sorority sisters who can’t be bothered to plan their own event but who will take credit for doing the grunt work of collecting cash, and their mothers, ladies who lunch and apparently don’t have nine to five jobs.

Well as the saying goes, it’s all fun and games until someone finds a dead body, and that someone is Jennifer. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think she was either a walking bad luck charm or a serial killer. The police really need to isolate her before she can do more damage, not that that’s going to help Sydney (Ona Grauer), the deceased and stepmother of Hannah’s friend. Jennifer finds Sydney sprawled across her mother’s attic, killed from a fall and a hard knock to the head.

Except Jennifer suspects once again that this was no accident. Nor does it turn out to be much of a mystery. This series is hit or miss when it comes to tense whodunits; sometimes it keeps you guessing but more often than not, it’s just about filling in details. It looks pretty certain that Sydney’s friend Tina (Keegan Connor Tracy) has something to do with the death, but does she really have it in her to kill? Perhaps Tina’s artist boyfriend (Martin Cummins) is the more likely culprit. He tries to gain fame, and cash, as the next Jackson Pollack but is in danger of losing his studio in the meantime. If that happens, it’s back to painting houses. The answer lies with a valuable painting that Sydney showed Tina just before she died, a painting that is now missing.

It’s not a taxing case but it does end in a frenzy, and the excitement is welcome. This series could use some flash. I breezed through seven episodes in a weekend, which in hindsight was not the best idea, and by the time I got to The Art of Murder, my brain was so numb I wasn’t sure if the subplot involving vibrational cooking (no, it’s not what you think) was supposed to be ironically funny or just a sign that they had run out of ideas.

Released: 2016
Dir: Peter DeLuise
Writer: Walter Klenhard
Cast: Lori Loughlin, Sarah Strange, Steve Bacic, Eva Bourne, Connor Stanhope, Kevin O’Grady, Keegan Connor Tracy, Martin Cummins, Susan Hogan, Ona Grauer, Sam Brisco
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries
Reviewed: 2017