Hallmark saved it’s biggest surprise for the latest installment of Garage Sale Mystery, and that is that the mystery series will be ending. I was caught off guard by this shocking conclusion, the biggest twist the series has delivered yet. It’s the right thing to do though because as I’ve noted throughout, the mysteries were hardly compelling and garage sale sleuth Jennifer (Lori Loughlin) was a less than remarkable lead.
A Case of Murder is no different in this regard. There’s a bit more of a chase and a voice from the dead adds to the air of suspense, but while it may rank above some of the lesser efforts – and there have been 11 of them – this movie is easily forgotten. Blame it in part on the title, which could substitute for any mystery on this channel. It just so happens that this time there is a literal case. Jennifer buys a reel-to-reel tape recorder, in titular case, and when she plays it back, she hears the voice of a man who sounds like he’s about to be killed. Rather than an unsolved mystery from decades back, however, it appears to be a fresh crime.
She finds out that the man is Dr. Vedders (Malcolm Stewart), a therapist at a community center who’s just announced his retirement. That leaves some of his patients a little unmoored, but enough to kill the man who helped them? As Jennifer begins to connect the dots, tensions between the therapy group begin to surface. One gruff patient envies the doctor’s affection for other members, particularly an anxious woman who seems to be having an affair with Vedders. You can never discount the wife though, and she is certainly eager to get rid of her husband’s belongings.
If there’s one thing that added some spark to this mystery, it was seeing my favorite Hallmark Mysteries supporting player, Lisa Durupt, guest star as one of the patients. She isn’t the perky sister from Murder, She Baked but she plays some variation of that while still keeping true to her character in this movie. Otherwise, the big draw is watching all the loose ends being tied up with the main characters from this series.
The Shannon family, which includes Jennifer’s contractor husband and dutiful college student daughter and teenage son, are hard at work building a mancave/womancave/home theater. The whole cave idea seems passé and an odd choice for a celebratory hurrah, but fine, we’re not aiming for cutting edge here. So fans of the series, or at least loyal viewers, can instead enjoy Dani’s storyline. I’ve always thought that Jennifer’s friend and business partner, Dani (Sarah Strange), is one of the better sidekicks on Hallmark. She’s certainly the most exciting personality in this group, but the woman gets saddled with kooky single woman baggage every damn time. Well no more. I’m happy to report that her new agey, crafty vision board fate nonsense pays off dividends, and girlfriend gets the happiness she deserves. As for me, it’s Christmastime and that means I’se got a month of movies about unhappy career woman turning shit around thanks to some jingle bells and a hot dude.
Dir: Neill Fearnley
Writer: Kraig Wenman
Cast: Lori Loughlin, Sarah Strange, Steve Bacic, Eva Bourne, Connor Stanhope, Kevin O’Grady, Jay Brazeau, Malcolm Stewart, Sarah-Jane Redmond, Preston Vanderslice, Lisa Durupt, Derek Hamilton, Paloma Kwiatkowski
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries