Most people would not associate the tag Hallmark with a mystery movie DVD. Hallmark Hall of Fame, yes, but Hallmark mystery? Well, now you can with their Mystery Woman series starring Kellie Martin (Christy and Life Goes On -you know, the show with Corky) and Clarence Williams III (The Mod Squad). The episode Sing Me A Murder may not be a hallmark mystery DVD but it certainly is pleasant and entertaining so most fans of the genre will be pleased if not impressed.
This mystery will not really stretch a fan's sleuthing skills. Sing Me A Murder, the fourth in the Samantha Kinsey Mystery Woman series is definitely a made for American TV movie. The musical clues are far from subtle so you know when you are supposed to feel tension and when the scene is supposed to be sad. Exposition is rather heavy at times when comes the time to fill in the missing information for those unfamiliar with the series or who need a nudge or two to figure things out.
In terms of back story, a lot of the information about The Ramblers is right out of Peter Paul and Mary: the band is composed of Stephen, Dan, and Carly while The Rambler's big hit was Nick the Magic Mushroom. This is also true for the sixties cultural references as the old poster for one of their shows is an exact copy of a Woodstock poster. Somebody certainly did not stretch their imagination too much filling that stuff in. Samantha's business partner's name, Philby, is a clear reference to British turncoat spy Kim Philby which is merely coincidence as Samantha suspects he was once a spy.
This Mystery Woman episode starts off with a couple of bank robberies and mystery bookstore owner Samantha Kinsey asked to host a Ramblers comeback charity concert. Philby gets interested in the robberies while the band's manager is murdered in the bed and breakfast he and the band were staying at. Then, Carly falsely confesses to the murder thirty one minutes into this mystery. Samantha Kinsey investigates the murder while Philby investigates the bank jobs. Meanwhile all is not well between Peter, Paul, and Mary or is it Stephen, Dan, and Carly? Of course all these things are connected somehow.
Sing Me A Murder is 86 minutes long so things move at quite a clip. This is helped by the fact Kinsey has an in because her best friend is the prosecutor (Nina Siemasko) and she has no problems giving all the information she can to Kinsey.
There are a couple of howlers in Mystery Woman Sing Me A Murder. What are the odds of the safe at the First Toledo Bank and a bank in Bloomington having the exact same sets of three numbers (43 15 04 and 53 27 35) as the combination to their gigantic safe? Pretty good according to Sing Me A Murder. The guy playing the local cop certainly could use a few more acting lessons to take him beyond the stereotypical raging bad cop attitude he constantly has and much less generic lines to say. I stopped counting how many times he says nobody leaves town or don't leave town though it would make for a good drinking game a la Bob Newhart Show.
Still, Mystery Woman Sing Me A Murder is an entertaining mystery DVD with very little violence (well, one guy gets whacked with a guitar) and some pretty interesting main characters.
One last thing, whoever wrote the blurb on the cover, "When it comes to murder, she notes every clue" should be shot for a really atrocious pun.