Lately, I have been watching the Hallmark Movie Channel’s mystery features. In all these movies, murder comes a-calling to the smallest of towns and hamlets that dot the American landscape. And I’m not talking “Oops, I accidentally ran over someone when I backed my car out of the driveway without checking my blind spot” murder. No. I’m talking premeditated murders that would make the most seasoned homicide detective get the dry heaves. But in these movies, the police are not the crime solvers; in these movies, it’s the garage sale junkies, bookstore owners, homemakers and bakers who solve the heinous crimes.
Hey, I have seen pretty much every episode of Murder, She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder and Perry Mason. So if a writer, doctor and lawyer can be murder experts why not a chef or homemaker? What I don’t get is why the police keep these civilians involved in their investigations. They not only provide them with information, but they don’t arrest the fake sleuths when they find out they have been interrogating witnesses or suspects without their permission. Anyway, these mystery movies got me thinking. I bet I could write a movie for Hallmark, introduce my own special quirky detective and inspire the powers that be to offer me perhaps…a three-picture deal? What do you think?
The Lucky Strike Murders: This takes place in the town’s only bowling alley. When the “pro” and the concession stand manager are found smushed inside the pin changer, the tall, good-looking bowling alley owner demonstrates that solving crime is right up his alley. Fortunately for him, everyone involved in this case happens to be in the Friday night bowling league making it a cinch for him to ask non-obvious questions such as “Where were you at 4 AM on the night of the 25th?” when they line up to rent their shoes. Everyone knows the average person wouldn’t be suspicious about this type of inquiry especially when they have bowling on the brain. During his investigation, the bowling alley owner finds a sleuthing partner and love interest in the new girl who takes over the refreshment stand for the dead girl who apparently doesn’t need the paycheck anymore. The two score a strike when they miraculously find a fingerprint and dried blood on a bowling ball which leads them to solve the case.
Don’t like bowling? Okay how about this? A priest and a rabbi go into a bar—this is not a joke but the beginning of Murder, They Prayed. The priest and rabbi are childhood friends who meet for a drink once a week. Unfortunately, they find their favorite waitress and her bartender boyfriend dead behind a case of rum. While the police investigate it as a murder-suicide, the religious duo set out to prove that the couple were victims of a premeditated assault. Armed only with a bible and rosary beads, the long-time friends uncover clues and discover that both the boyfriend and girlfriend were not only having affairs with other people, but were planning to leave the state secretly so they could escape the reach of the Church of Scientology. This has everything: intrigue, sex, violence, religious conversion and a possible cameo by Tom Cruise.
Religious detectives not your thing? How about this? The Pharmacist Files. A small town husband and wife pharmacy team find the poison that has felled not only the town’s only sheriff but the bowling alley owner as well (He had to go as he would steal the pharmacists’ crime-solving thunder). Unfortunately, in their zeal to be detectives, they uncover proof that their son, who is slated to take over the business, is the murderer who did in the sheriff and bowling alley guy because they found out that he had $40,000 in unpaid parking tickets in San Francisco which he accrued went he went there to sell Meth supplies to his ex-boyfriend, Roger. And those parking tickets—and possibly the Meth stuff—would keep him from being named Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Sweet Apple Cove Chamber of Commerce thus destroying his future as the heir apparent to his parents’ drug store as well as his pending marriage to the mayor’s virginal daughter, Amy.
So, now that we have some plots, we need a screenwriter or scriptwriter or whatever plus a producer, director, the cast and the name of the person at Hallmark who can make any or all of these movies happen. Anyone with connections, please step forward as murder movie magic is waiting to happen. We’ll do lunch.