After finishing all the Murder, She Baked movies a couple of weeks ago, I continued with my binge of Hallmark TV mystery movies by moving on to the Aurora Teagarden series. The movies star Candace Cameron Bure (a.k.a. DJ Tanner from Full House/Fuller House) as Aurora “Roe” Teagarden, a small town librarian who also helps organize the “Real Murders Club”–a weekly meeting for locals to get together and discuss true crime.
What makes Aurora Teagarden a great amateur sleuth is that, as she states several times throughout the series, as a librarian she has a master’s degree in finding information. While the best episodes/movies in my opinion are those in which she really makes use of her research skills, for the most part her involvement in the crimes is often unrelated to it. The stories more often than not revolve around real estate–her mother Aida is a real estate agent and Aurora is often either helping her mother out with her properties or shopping for a new house herself.
Being part of a true crime fan club also means that solving the crime is frequently a collective effort involving Aurora and her friends. Her best friend Sally is a reporter for the local newspaper, which grants her access first hand access to information initially limited to the press. Her ex-boyfriend is a police detective, so of course he often passes on information that has been discovered by the police–much to the chagrin of his wife who is also a senior detective. Other characters, notably Aurora’s romantic interests, also provide valuable skills and insight. [Side note: These romantic interests include mystery author Robin Daniels; ex-CIA Martin Bartell (played by Yannick Bisson of Murdoch Mysteries fame); and psychology professor Nick Miller.]
Just like the Murder, She Baked movies, this Hallmark series is also based on a series of novels. In this case, the novels were written by Charlaine Harris, who is also known for her Sookie Stackhouse novels which were adapted into the TV show True Blood. In fact, most of the TV movies to date have been directly based on the plots found in the novels. However, only 10 Aurora Teagarden books have ever been published to date, but there have been 13 Aurora Teagarden movies produced, so the more recent movies are based on original stories written by TV writers specifically for the screen.
Below, I have summarized all the TV movies and the novels they are based on.
- A Bone to Pick (first aired April 4th 2015)
- based on the second book: A Bone to Pick (1992)
- Real Murders (first aired July 26, 2015)
- based on the first book: Real Murders (1990)
- Three Bedrooms, One Corpse (first aired June 12, 2016)
- based on the third book: Three Bedrooms, One Corpse (1994)
- The Julius House (first aired August 16, 2016)
- based on the fourth book: The Julius House (1995)
- Dead Over Heels (first aired March 19, 2017)
- based on the fifth book: Dead Over Heels (1996)
- A Bundle of Trouble (first aired May 21, 2017)
- based on the sixth book: A Fool and His Honey (1999)
- Last Scene Alive (first aired January 7, 2018)
- based on the seventh book: Last Scene Alive (2002)
- Reap What You Sew (first aired April 15, 2018)
- based on the eighth book: Poppy Done to Death (2003)
- The Disappearing Game (first aired July 29, 2018)
- based on the ninth book: All the Little Liars (2016)
- A Game of Cat and Mouse (first aired August 4, 2019)
- An Inheritance to Die For (first aired August 11, 2019)
- A Very Foul Play (first aired August 18, 2019)
- Heist and Seek (first aired May 17, 2020)
Interestingly, the 10th and last Aurora Teagarden novel (Sleep Like a Baby) was never adapted for the screen.
Aside from some of the timelines and characters, there is one major difference between the books and the movies: while both are set in Lawrenceton, the books place Lawrenceton in Georgia, but the movies place the town in Washington state. This is likely due to the fact that (like many Hallmark movies) these one is filmed in British Columbia (Canada) and it’s hard to pretend that the Pacific Northwest is actually the South. The change in setting becomes more apparent starting with the fourth movie (The Julius House), which mentions them being within driving distance of Seattle and Portland.
I have now seen all the movies (although I have never read any of the books) and I have a few favourites: the first movie, A Bone to Pick, is excellent; but so is The Julius House, Last Scene Alive, A Game of Cat and Mouse, and A Very Foul Play.
You can catch the Aurora Teagarden mystery movies on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel. Some are also available to stream through Amazon Prime Video or purchase on DVD:
- Stream A Bone to Pick (Movie 1
- Stream Real Murders (Movie 2)
- Purchase the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries Collection on DVD (includes the first six movies)
- Purchase the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries Collection Two on DVD (includes movies 7, 8 and 9)
- Purchase the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries Collection Three on DVD (includes movies 10, 11 and 12)