Ah, now this was the kind of murder mystery I was expecting. After a confusing first entry in the series, Hallmark rebounds with a predictable, low intensity story that anyone half-focused can follow. And lest you think that’s a criticism, predictable and low intensity is the network’s calling card.
Snipped in the Bud is a clean and classic whodunit. We get to the murder right away when main character Abby (Brooke Shields) delivers a dozen black roses from an anonymous sender to law professor Bruce Barnes (Daniel Kash). He’s an HR case waiting to happen, someone who thinks intimidating others counts as a personality quirk. Minutes later, she finds another law professor, Carson Howell, stabbed to death with a pencil at Barnes’s chair. Since she was the last person in the office and since she had a professional relationship with him, she quickly becomes the lead suspect.
Abby puts her lawyering skills to work in order to clear her name, with the help of her new friend and ex-private detective, Marco (Brennan Elliott). I was sad to see that she’d jettisoned the cute attorney from the previous episode, but he was the assistant DA and this case doesn’t take place in town. Instead, she’s at her daughter’s university, poking around into her private and academic life. Normally that’s weird and unwelcome, but in Hallmark’s hands, it’s a handy plot device. With Sydney’s (Celeste Desjardins) insight, Abby picks up on clues about other potential suspects. They include Barnes, whom everyone seems to hate, Barnes’s wife, the assistant, and Sydney’s TA.
I appreciate the effort here to clarify the relationship each character and suspect had to the deceased. Cork board with note cards is a definite plus. Not having to play Guess Who? every time someone appeared also meant more focus on Abby’s non-crime solving pursuits. This movie does a good job of portraying her as a still grieving widow and mother. Desjardins and Beau Bridges, as Abby’s dad, have larger roles, and Bridges especially brings a seasoned balance to the proceedings. Shields and Elliott also share an easy-going chemistry that keeps the mood light. By not forcing the two together, we get to see a more natural relationship develop, one that brings out their complementary sleuthing talents.
Highlight for spoilers: Sydney’s cute TA did it! Sneaky, murderous little Kenny Lipinski. Abby thought his white lies about not knowing contacts from a major law firm were fishy. In fact, he’d been working for this firm (I forgot the name) for some time, under the supervision of dead Professor Carson. But that selfish playboy of a professor took all the credit for Kenny’s work AND denied Kenny an internship to another prestigious firm, or some lawyerly place. You see, Kenny’s overbearing dad wanted to keep him around so that he could join the family firm. Kenny wanted out and saw the internship as his ticket. But greedy Carson took a payoff from Kenny’s dad and gave the internship to someone else. Abby finds out after visiting the secretary and then gets trapped in the office with the murderer. Sydney waltzes in and then Kenny takes her hostage. It is not going to end well for that boy.
Dir: Bradley Walsh
Writer: Gary Goldstein
Cast: Brooke Shields, Brennan Elliott, Beau Bridges, Rachel Crawford, Celeste Desjardins, Kate Drummond, Ricardo Hoyos, Daniel Kash
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries