Saturday, 18 October 2014 03:10

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Lately, there has been an abundance of movie riches for mystery fans.

The Drop, based on Dennis Lehane’s work, A Walk Among the Tombstones, based on Lawrence Block’s novel, and Gone Girl, based on Gillian Flynn’s thriller, have all made terrific movie transitions.

Those films are solid treatments that do justice to the hard-edged novels.

But sometimes one needs a lighter type of story. That’s why we often crave dessert have a heavy meal. Well, that and because we always want dessert.

And sometimes a rich desert is just too heavy. We want something light, airy, forgettable, something we don’t have to think about but will enjoy while we’re in the moment. Think about a marshmallow.

And that would be fluffy, marshmallow-like The Wedding Planner Mystery, which premiering at 9 p.m. ET/PT and 8 p.m. CT on Sunday Oct. 19 Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel. (See previous story on the Hallmark Channel reboot.)

It’s a lighter than air film that, while has a number of clichés and unrealistic plot twists, is fun to watch. Murder, She Wrote had more memorable plots, but The Wedding Planner Mystery still is enjoyable.

Erica Durance stars as Carnegie Kincaid (Smallville) whose latest event quickly turns tragic when a bridesmaid is murdered, while days later another bridesmaid (Chelan Simmons, Final Destination 3) is kidnapped. The family has been the center of a high-profile fraud scheme, which the media is covering.

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Carnegie is being followed by a news reporter (Andrew W. Walker, When Calls the Heart); accused of plotting the crimes by a detective (Rick Ravanello, True Justice) and romanced by a handsome attorney (Brandon Beemer, The Bold and the Beautiful). She’s also being accused of inflating her bill.

The wedding planning aspects of the story are well handled and the charming Carnegie so winningly played by Durance makes up for a lot.

But this Pacific Northwest town must have the stupidest detectives to make Carnegie a person of interest.

And anyone who has read a mystery—or seen Jessica Fletcher in action—will spot the villains and holes in the plot.

Still, I had a good time watching and would love to see more of these wedding planner mysteries. And that wedding cake actually looked good.

The Wedding Planner Mystery is based on Deborah’s Donnelly’s novel Veiled Threats, the first of her appealing series.
And as I always say, enjoy the film, but read the book.

The Wedding Planner Mystery which premiering at 9 p.m. ET/PT and 8 p.m. CT on Sunday Oct. 19 Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel.

Photos: Erica Durance as Carnegie Kincaid
Courtesy Crown Media United States

Wednesday, 15 October 2014 11:10

kornetsky doghouse
Dogs and cats, as well as horse, hamsters and other animals, often show up in mysteries either as  main character or in a supporting role.

So, in honor of Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, which is October, Animal Welfare Week, which was Oct. 5 to 11, and National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week, which is Nov. 2-8, let’s give a shout out to those authors who show  animals playing a role in their plots.

L.A. Kornetsky: Her Gin and Tonic mysteries pair up dog lover Ginny Mallard and her bartender, cat-loving, friend Teddy Tonica, along with some of their pets, in this cool series.

Robert Crais: Suspect-- Maggie, a German shepherd trained by the Marines and who was shot by a sniper that also killed her human partner in Afghanistan, becomes a K9 cop to LAPD officer Scott James who was severely wounded and traumatized during a shoot-out. The two become true partners.

Clea Simon: Cats, as well as the occasional parrot, play an important role in her three eries featuring music journalist Theda Krakow, pet expert Pru Marlowe,  and grad student Dulcie Schwartz.

Jonathan Kellerman: Blanche the French bulldog plays a reoccurring role in the Alex Delaware novels.

Spencer Quinn:  Quinn’s delightful yet hardboiled, in a way, novels pair up one of the most lovable detectives, Chet, the wise and lovable canine narrator of the Chet & Bernie Mystery Series, who works alongside Bernie, a down-on-his-luck private investigator.

Laura Lippman: A greyhound, Doberman and an Italian greyhound—all rescues in some way or the other--are often the office companion of private detective Tess Monaghan.

Miranda James: Widowed librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon, Diesel, solve crimes in the Cat in the Stacks series.

Dennis Lehane: The Drop, based on a short story, shows the power of a dog to break through to a person who has closed himself off from everyone.

Now it’s our readers turn to tell us their favorites.

Saturday, 11 October 2014 04:10

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The Hallmark Movie Channel’s rebranding is mystery fans’ gain.

Now known as the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel, it has acquired the works of several mystery authors whose novels will be made into original TV movies.
Keeping with the mission of Hallmark, the authors whose work will be on the network write the lighter, softer type mysteries. Hallmark is calling these original two-hour movies its Original Mystery Wheel Franchise.

I think Hallmark has rounded up some of the best of the genre and I hope they add even more of these movies based on novels by writers who specialize in amateur sleuths. I can think of at least a dozen authors whose novels would fit right into the Hallmark family.

Deborah’s Donnelly’s novel Veiled Threats, part of her wedding planner series, will be the basis for the first Wedding Planner Mystery premiering at 9 p.m. ET/PT and 8 p.m. CT on Sunday Oct. 19.

The Wedding Planner Mystery stars Erica Durance (Smallville), Andrew W. Walker (When Calls the Heart) and Brandon Beemer (The Bold and the Beautiful) along with Chelan Simmons (Final Destination 3) and Rick Ravanello (True Justice).

I am a fan of Donnelly’s series and it is a perfect fit for the network. I recently viewed the film and it does justice to her series, combining the suspense with a bit of romance.

Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen Mystery series, beginning with Sugar Cookie Murder, is scheduled to air in 2015. Fluke’s culinary series has sold over six million copies in print and has been translated into seven languages. Since the series began in 2000, Fluke says she has baked more than 500,000 chocolate chip cookies for fans as well as countless pies, cakes, muffins and other sweets. Naturally, she includes recipes in her novels. Fluke’s series always makes me want to start baking and the films should too.

garagesale loughlin
Another mouth-watering series that will come to Hallmark is The Gourmet Detective, based on the series by Peter King. I was a big fan of these witty novels in which a culinary whiz uses his mastery of food, drink and cooking to solve crimes of the culinary world. This series was a mini education in food as the nameless detective used his encyclopedic knowledge of culinary world to find valuable recipe that had been stolen or the murderer who committed his crime in the middle of a five-star restaurant. Dylan Neal (Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove) will star in and executive produce these movies. The Gourmet Detective is slated to begin in 2015.

It’s especially exciting news that Charlaine Harris’s Aurora Teagarden novels will be part of the Hallmark’s reboot. Librarian Aurora “Roe” Teagarden is a crime buff, lover of mystery novels and a member of the Real Murders Club, which meets to analyze famous crimes and mysteries. I loved this series by Harris and always hoped it would return. And if you don’t know who Charlaine Harris is, well, shame on you.

Aurora will be played by Candace Cameron Bure, who most of us remember from the TV series Full House. The first Aurora movie is slated for 2015.

What started Hallmark executives thinking about how these mystery novels were good fodder for TV must have been the reception the network received with its airing last year of the first Garage Sale Mystery. The movie starred the always appealing Lori Loughlin as a yard sale treasure hunter who uses her keen eye to solve crimes. The “Garage Sale Mystery” movies are based on the novel by Suzi Weinert.

Garage Sale Mystery: All That Glitters, the second installment of the “Garage Sale Mystery” movie series, will be aired at 9 p.m. Oct. 26.

Of course, you'll want to start reading the books before the films air.

Photos: Top: Andrew Walker, Erica Durance in The Wedding Planner Mystery; bottom: Lori Loughlin in Garage Sale Mystery: All That Glitters, photos courtesy Crown Media United States