The latest Aurora Teagarden mystery begins on a lonely dirt road in the countryside. A distraught old woman is standing outside a large house and has just informed the police of her family’s disappearance. It’s an ominous beginning and while not one of those Victorian mysteries that will keep you awake at night, there is a creepy doll sitting on a shelf of a hidden closet.
The Julius House is the best of the Aurora Teagarden series so far; make of that what you will. It’s mildly spooky, which gives it more kick than your average Hallmark mystery. The missing family turns out to be the Juliuses, and four years later, their house belongs to Ro (Candace Cameron Bure). Ro, full-time librarian and part-time detective, vaguely recalls the case of the missing family of three when she purchases her new abode, but she’s so taken with the extra wall space that she doesn’t consider the consequences of living at a possible murder scene or that closets may not be the only thing the house is hiding.
When she begins to dig deeper into the family’s disappearance, with the help of her journalist friend, Sally (Lexa Doig), her boyfriend, Martin (Yannick Bisson), and her mother’s boyfriend, John (Bruce Dawson), she only finds more questions. Why, for instance, was the teenage daughter afraid of her father? Why did her boyfriend leave town so soon after her disappearance? How long did the mother, who was dying from cancer, have to live? The only thing Ro is sure of is that the police’s conclusion is wrong and that the Julius family did not drive into a ravine by accident.
Meanwhile, things are percolating in Ro and Aida (Marilu Henner), her mother’s, personal lives. It turns out Martin from the last episode wasn’t the murderer (spoiler alert) and that he is dreamy good guy that Ro’s mother hoped he’d be. The two need to get on with it though because the running narrative here is that they aren’t officially a couple until they’ve had twenty-five dates, per Aida’s rules. Y’all are adults though, so why is this a thing? Aida doesn’t have too much time to meddle though because she is working out some kinks in her relationship with John, Ro’s friend from their Real Murders Club. John’s ready to propose but Aida’s being Aida and won’t say “yes” so easily.
I like John’s reappearance after getting sidelined in the previous movie. He’s levelheaded and calm, which is useful since people in this small town are getting killed left and right. Ro’s rival and wife of her ex-boyfriend, police detective Lynn (Miranda Frigon), is not as antagonistic, though I don’t mind when she is. I also liked Token Black Guy, concrete layer Parnell (Viv Leacock), who has a small but important role. Basically, any time secondary characters crowd out an overly chirpy Ro is fine with me.
Dir: Terry Ingram
Writer: Teena Booth
Cast: Candace Cameron Bure,Yannick Bisson, Marilu Henner, Lexa Doig, Miranda Frigon, Bruce Dawson, Peter Benson, Scott Lyster, Gabrielle Rose
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries