Earlier this summer, I got into watching Hallmark mystery movies. I’ve already written about Murder, She Baked and Aurora Teagarden Mysteries; but, more recently, I’ve also been watching the Garage Sale Mysteries.
The series stars Lori Loughlin as Jennifer Shannon, a woman who runs an antique shop called Rags to Riches. All of the mysteries revolve around a particular antique object or the world of collectors’ items. However, Jennifer’s particular involvement in each case is usually simply due to her being in the right place at the right time, and being good at noticing details—a skill that is established early-on in the series.
Other important characters in the series include:
- Danielle/”Dani”, Jennifer’s “artsy” friend and business partner
- Detective Frank Lynwood, Jennifer’s old friend and member of local law enforcement who often lets Jennifer in on certain details of the case
- Jennifer’s family: her engineer husband Jason; her college-aged daughter Hannah; and her teen-aged son Logan (who often helps her hack into things or recover computer files)
There have been 16 movies made in the series, which makes it the largest Hallmark mystery franchise to-date. The series was cancelled in 2018 following a scandal involving the star, so it’s possible that another series will take that title soon. [In fact, as of 2021, the longest-running Hallmark series is now Aurora Teagarden Mysteries.]
I’ve listed all of the movies in the series below. If you have the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel, you may be able to watch them there, but (in case you don’t) I’ve also provided links to where you can stream them or buy them on DVD.
- Garage Sale Mystery (pilot movie) [stream here]
- All that Glitters [stream here]
- The Deadly Room
- The Wedding Dress
- Guilty Until Proven Innocent
- The Novel Murders
- The Art of Murder
- The Beach Murder
- Murder by Text
- Murder Most Medieval
- A Case of Murder
- The Pandora’s Box Murders
- The Mask Murder
- Picture a Murder
- Murder in D Minor
- Searched & Seized
Following the cancellation of the show, the 16th movie was produced but never aired. It is still available to watch as part of the Complete DVD Collection.
The series is based on the characters created by Suzi Weinert in Garage Sale Stalker. There are three books in Suzi Weinert’s Garage Sale Mystery book series; however, only the first was adapted for the screen. From what I’ve been able to read about the books, they are a bit darker than the TV series.
Personally, that makes me want to check them out more, as I didn’t enjoy the characterization in the TV movies. I’ve watched almost all of the movies so far (except for the last few), and in each one I got very frustrated by Jennifer’s attitude to money. If you’re like me and did not grow up in a well-to-do environment, you might feel the same way. Jennifer seems to constantly be making bad business choices. This was mostly out of her own sense of charity, which is noble, but I always felt terrible for her business partner Dani, who doesn’t have an engineer husband to bail her out. Subconsciously, I felt like I was constantly being reminded of Jennifer’s privilege in life.
This is also the only detective series I’ve ever watched/read where I felt like telling the amateur detective to butt out of official police business. It was just hard for me to believe that Jennifer had anything particularly important to offer the investigation.
With that said, the puzzles in the mystery plot were always interesting, and I did like the premise of each murder revolving around a particular collectors’ item as it can give the series a bit of a The Maltese Falcon vibe. But really, when it comes to mystery series, the protagonist and setting can really make it or break it for me, so if you think you might identify with Jennifer more than I did, you’ll probably enjoy the series a lot more than I did, too.