Plot: Aurora (Candace Cameron Bure) is a librarian with an unquenchable thirst for murder mysteries, so it is no surprise she always looks forward to her book club, which centers on just such mysteries. The group love to pore over these cases and analyze the crimes, as well as discuss their own perspectives on how things unfolded, sometimes offering some remarkable insights. But before the club can even meet to talk about their latest mystery selection, an actual murder occurs and one of the members happens to be the victim. As if that tragic turn of events wasn’t enough, the member was killed in the same fashion as the victim in the book the club was going to discuss. This revelation means the club itself is under suspicion and Aurora has to be on her guard, as anyone could be a suspect.

Entertainment Value: This second Aurora Teagarden installment builds on the basics from the first movie, but as with most of the Hallmark mysteries, could easily be treated as episodic. So if you missed A Bone to Pick, it wouldn’t hurt to visit it before this one, but is by no means necessary to invest in this sequel. The narrative in this one is interesting, as it weaves the murder mystery club into the crime and in the process, allows us to get a little depth on those characters. The focus is on Aurora of course, but the time spent on the supporting characters is welcome, as it gets you a little more invested in the series’ world and that’s always good. I think this sequel runs right in line with the first picture, with a brisk mystery to explore and while the story is predictable, it is enjoyable to watch and as I said, feels at home within Hallmark’s established formula. These amateur detective franchises from Hallmark have crafted a routine that has resonated with fans, so I don’t blame Real Murders for staying within those parameters, since it is aimed at those built in fans, I think. The story is fun, the performances are solid, and the pace is well handled, so I think for anyone who appreciates Hallmark’s style of murder mysteries, Real Murders is worth a look.

This sequel brings several of the prominent cast members, which Hallmark is often good about doing in their franchises, with Candace Cameron Bure back in the lead role. This is the most important bit of casting of course, since Bure is not only the returning lead, but also one Hallmark’s more popular female leads overall. As a staple of the channel’s films, she has a considerable built in fan base and that is important, since Hallmark fans seem to be responsive to regular appearances from the key talent. Bure is a fun lead and she brings some good energy to her second turn as Aurora. This isn’t the kind of role that tests her skills, but she performs in capable fashion and has the kind of charm the movie needs, which is crucial. Hallmark leans a lot on likable leads, so Bure is a natural choice and she delivers on all fronts in Real Murders. Marilu Henner returns as well and just as in the previous Aurora movie, she is able to elevate the material and steal more than her fair share of scenes. The cast also includes Bruce Dawson, Peter Benson, Robin Dunne, and Lexa Doig.

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