A rare first edition from a pioneer author goes missing in the mystery novels-specialized Kinsey bookshop during remodeling by the local firm of Tyler Dell, who recently lost his father, a ... See full summary »
A rare first edition from a pioneer author goes missing in the mystery novels-specialized Kinsey bookshop during remodeling by the local firm of Tyler Dell, who recently lost his father, a Vietnam veteran. Retired English teacher Jim Carter, who overheard everything, is murdered shortly after a row in Reverend Tucker's homeless shelter Haven with aggressive lush Murphy. Rude police chief Connors isn't up to an investigation while the killer keeps sniping, so the bookstore's armchair sleuths duo does it alone, starting from a lacquered box left by Jim for his illegitimate daughter, who never even knew his name. It starts a set of cues, slowly unraveling a grim intrigue starting during a 1965 US illegal intrusion into Red Khmer territory. Written by
OK if you meet it on its level but many viewers will understandably see this daytime stuff to be below them
Tyler Dell is the local plumber who looks after Samantha's pipes at the bookstore (no, really). Tyler's father (a Vietnam veteran) has recently passed away but returning to work seems Tyler's way of getting over it and he has plenty of work at the creaky Mystery Woman bookshop. A stranger visits the shop on his way through town (one Jim Carter) and at the same time a rare book goes missing. The police can find nothing and let everyone leave but later that same day Jim Carter turns up dead stabbed with his fingerprints removed by acid. At his guesthouse he has left a package for Samantha a valuable looking box containing a personal letter, a key and some post-it notes. The contents are clues but can Samantha work out what the clues mean, far less the reasons they have been left for her?
I have now seen several of the Mystery Woman series now and find them to be generally so-so and only good enough for viewers who are prepared to meet it on its level. The material is typical mystery fare and, as I have said before, it is all a bit "Murder She Wrote: The Early Years" but the story here does have enough to it to keep things moving and has a good pace to the development of the story. The constant soundtrack is a real pain here, as it feels like it is forced the mood too often whether it is dark mystery, light comic touch or sentimentality. This bugged me but it came with the territory since the whole delivery is very clean and Corporate, lacking in anything that original and feeling pretty processed all part of it being a Hallmark production I suppose. Although the plot is a bit (a bit!) unlikely and contrived, it does provide a nice set of clues for Sam to work through, which is what fans of the series will be looking for.
The cast match this level by mostly just doing the basics. They aren't helped by the script, which produces clunky and unnatural dialogue whenever it gets the chance sure it tells a story but often the actors look uncomfortable with it. Martin still hasn't got it. She looks cute but she is never a real person and has nowhere near enough charisma to cover for her lack of character. Her relationships with other characters is also convincing, although it doesn't help that they are similarly clunky. Williams is stiff and hasn't much to do while Siemaszko just drifts round with even less to do and an ethics code that is dubious at best. Sander is overly gruff and stiff yet again as Connors.while O'Ross, Lascher and Barry all feature as the recognisable red-herrings (or not) of the film.
Overall then a so-so mystery film from Hallmark that will please those who are happy with the quality that will inevitably come with that. The plot is daft but developed at a good pace even if the script is clunky and the performances generally stiff. The overall mood is one of safety and material that is befitting the corporate image of Hallmark. Will be OK if you meet it on its level but many viewers will understandably see this daytime stuff to be below them.
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