A family affair turns deadly in the eleventh installment of the Aurora Teagarden series. The focus shifts from amateur sleuth Ro (Candace Cameron Bure) to her best friend, Sally (Lexa Doig), and Sally’s cousins, Lizzy and Cade (Preston Vanderslice). As the family and all the town’s elite gather for Lizzy’s wedding, the happy occasion is cut short when one Aunt Gladys (Karen Kruper) dies by poisoning. The crime is committed in plain sight, but it’s hard to narrow the pool of suspects, all of whom might have benefited from the death of the wealthy woman.
Keeping track of personal vendettas and grievances proves a chore for Ro. Those who have a reason for killing Gladys all offer a strong reason why someone else could have done the deed. Ro goes with her instincts and places Cade at the top of the suspect list. Cade, a general disappointment to his mother and an irresponsible trust fund kid to others, is ready to pick a fight with anyone challenging his claim to his mother’s fortune. He is already upset when Victor (Michael David Simms), the former CEO of Gladys’s company, shows up at the wedding but becomes even more incensed when he learns that the business is being handed over to Ro’s mother, Aida (Marilu Henner). That’s not the only surprise in store. Gladys’s personal chef, Jeremy (Jason McKinnon), receives a sum that far exceeds that of the other beneficiaries, and the move angers not only Cade but also her long-time personal assistant, Tannis (Alison Araya).
I confess I liked the snarling free-for-all here. If you’ve witnessed any real-life will disputes, you’ll recognize the brazen money grab disguised as tearful concern for the deceased. By the end, you might decide we’re better off donating to stray puppies or some renewable energy project. Humans are way too selfish, and this movie doesn’t let anyone off the hook. Instead, it allows you to experience the whole messy process but without the actual emotional or material investment. The actors also add punch with their comic overacting, a feature I’m learning to love. Doig is my favourite; whereas Cameron Bure tries to be Very Serious, Doig, either by default or by design, comes across as laughably incredulous.
Highlight for spoilers: Everyone’s a little guilty, but in the end, it’s Victor holding the gun and Aurora and her mother hostage. Cade gets the ball rolling by wanting more than he’s already entitled to. Some time ago, he framed Victor for embezzlement, leading to the latter’s firing. Aunt Gladys tried to make amends when she found out the truth, but it wasn’t enough to resurrect Victor’s reputation or his good feelings towards her. Victor decides to go big and bring everyone down, not only orchestrating Gladys’s death but implicating his enemies in the process. He enlists the help of lawyer Elaine to rewrite the will and chef Jeremy to poison the water. Jeremy gets a tidy sum for doing so, but when he asks for even more money, Victor kills him. He also installs Aida as the new CEO, knowing that she’ll gladly give up ownership to him and that it will expose Cade’s power grab.
Dir: Michael Robinson
Writer: Teena Booth
Cast: Candace Cameron Bure, Niall Matter, Marilu Henner, Peter Benson, Lexa Doig, Miranda Frigon, Dylan Sloane, Ellie Harvie, Preston Vanderslice, Michael David Simms, Alison Araya, Julia Benson, Fred Henderson,Matreya Scarrwener, Karen Kruper, Jason McKinnon, Dave Collette
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries