A picture is worth a hell of a lot more than a thousand words if it captures the image of a killer, even if it’s not the face and just his or her gloved hands choking the victim to death. Everyone thinks Larry Brady died of a heart attack during his 60th birthday party, and few have reason to believe otherwise. His nephew, Tony (Edward Ruttle), however, thinks there’s something off, and his suspicions kick-start a murder investigation when he confides in Jennifer (Lori Loughlin), his high school classmate’s mom and crime solver extraordinaire.
The antique shop owner has a sixth sense when it comes to solving murders, but once again she tries to distance herself from the case, though it’s hard when she’s been tasked with selling the deceased’s camera collection. And once again, she can’t help herself when she develops a roll of film from Larry’s camera and discovers the incriminating photo. Naturally, she volunteers her services, which include snooping on Larry’s family and associates, in order to bring the case to a close.
There are so many people to spy on though. Larry’s estranged brother is one guy who can’t keep his story straight. Scott (William MacDonald) says he wasn’t at the party but has some explaining to do when his angry face shows up in a photo. Larry’s estranged business partner and token black friend, Walter (Donny Lucas), also marched in and out of the party with a growl, upset that Larry broke up their investment firm and desperate for promised financing to keep his restaurant afloat. Event photographer and secret sweetheart Sandy (Michelle Harrison) is a late addition to the list. She’s not a suspect per se, but surely it’s odd that her ex-boyfriend’s catering the party. Don’t discount the lawyer either. Ian’s (John Emmet Tracy) demeanor is a tad dry and controlled to be entirely trustworthy. And always suspect the guy you least suspect – that means you, sad Tony.
It’s a lot of people to juggle, and this movie weaves a credible web of suspects. None seem cruel enough to murder the poor man, but some people are that cold-blooded and hide it well. To be honest though, I was more invested in the subplot. It’s the first time we’ve had a pairing between Jennifer’s husband, Jason (Steve Bacic), and her friend, Dani (Sarah Strange), and the mixing of Jennifer’s personal and professional lives injected some much needed drama into the series. I wouldn’t say that the dynamic between the staid Jason and the more emotional Dani was electric, but it was a lot more charged than what we’re used to here in Garage Sale-land.
With Dani out of commission due to an arm injury, she and Jennifer decide to hire temporary help. They enlist Jason to assist in the process, but he and Dani don’t see eye to eye on the new employee’s qualifications. It’s the first time in a while that there’s been some disagreement between the main characters, and not just the petty type like whether or not Jennifer’s sequined red dress is ugly (it is). The show is much more engaging when there are juicy subplots to support that main storyline, like the C plot with Jennifer’s children. Hannah (Eva Bourne) tries to squeeze a secret out of Logan (Connor Stanhope), a secret that is minor but that reveals a lot about his character.
(Special mention to Hallmark POC of the Month – Cardi Wong, Naika Toussaint, and Donny Lucas.)
Highlight for spoilers: Dastardly lawyer Ian. We knew it was you. You had all the secrets, including the one that you were stealing money from Larry to pay for your gambling habit. That’s why Larry couldn’t honor his commitment to Walter. The black and white photo also meant that Ian’s blue suit appeared black in the photo. Plus, Ian knew about the dark room all along, which meant he had access to the potassium chloride to kill Larry. Evil!
Dir: Niall Fearnley
Writer: Kraig Wenman
Cast: Lori Loughlin, Sarah Strange, Steve Bacic, Eva Bourne, Connor Stanhope, Kevin O’Grady, Jay Brazeau, Matthew Harrison, Johannah Newmarch, Michelle Harrison, John Emmet Tracy, William MacDonald, Edward Ruttle, Toby Levins, Tom Tasse, Naika Toussaint, Donny Lucas, Cardi Wong
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries