When I was younger, I lovedlovedloved mysteries. As a kid, I read and devoured Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Boxcar Children, Bobbsey Twins, Tracie Belden, Mary Kate and Ashley Mysteries, and more. As a teenager, I turned more to Dee Henderson, Terri Blackstock, and others who I can’t remember right now. I also loved shows like NCIS, 20/20, and Dateline. I loved the adrenaline rush and being terrified out of my mind.
I’m not sure what happened as an adult, but stories of true crime started really affecting me negatively where I would have these constant running thoughts of fear and anxiety. I was beginning to have trouble sleeping or being by myself anywhere. So, I had to cut watching and reading true crime stories for the sake of my mental health.
Of course, by now you know that I am a Hallmark junkie. A few years ago, I decided that I’d start watching the Hallmark mysteries because my girl Candace Cameron Bure stars in one of the series– Aurora Teagarden. And these mysteries are the perfect recipe for someone like me who enjoys mysteries but needs something less intense than say 20/20 or even NCIS. I really enjoy the mysteries because they can be a little bonkers, but fun. And some actually keep me on my toes!
I decided I’d list my top five Hallmark mystery series. But before I do, I want to give a shout out to a couple of honorable mentions:
- Martha Vineyard Mysteries starring Sarah Lind and Jesse Metcalfe – This series is a newer one to Hallmark and the lead is a male, which is different for Hallmark. So far, both movies have been super solid for me.
- Crossword Mysteries starring Lacey Chabert and Brennan Elliott – I really like the puzzle aspect in this movie because I’m a nerd. The latest movie, Abracadaver, is REALLY good. It’s probably my favorite that they’ve done so far. That one had me on my toes the entire time!
FIVE || Gourmet Detective
Gourmet Detective stars Dylan Neal and Brooke Burns. I had discovered this series earlier this year when the fifth movie, Roux the Day, aired. I found that movie super fun, a little bonkers, and I loved the banter between Dylan and Brooke’s characters Henry Ross and Maggie Price. Henry is pretty laid back, a little goofy, and a food blogger. Maggie is a no-nonsense police detective. Between these two polar opposites, you can’t help but laugh at their antics. This mysteries series is a little lighter than the others which makes it more fun. Even my husband enjoyed this series…shhh…. don’t tell anyone I said that!
FOUR || Garage Sale Mysteries
Listen, this series is awesome regardless of what you think about Lori Loughlin. Ugh. I’m obviously not condoning anything she did, but I do hate that this series was canceled! Hear me out– all we have to do is terminate Lori’s character Jennifer Shannon (maybe the mystery she was trying to solve didn’t go in her favor). Then, we can get Jason (Jen’s husband played by Steve Bacic) and Dani (Jen’s bestie and business partner played by Sarah Strange) to be a mystery-solving duo who fall in love because it’s Hallmark. Should we get #JasonAndDaniForGarageSaleDuo trending?
Anyways, the Garage Sale Mystery series was written really well and the characters are well-developed. What’s different about this one compared to all of the other mystery series is that Jen is already married, so there’s no “wooing” involved. I like that she’s a wife, mom, and businesswoman who happens to also solve some crimes. If I had to choose between this and When Calls the Heart where Lori plays Abigail Stanton, I’d have to say I’d choose Garage Sale Mysteries and Jennifer Shannon.
THREE || Darrow & Darrow
Darrow and Darrow star Kimberly Williams Paisley, Tom Cavanaugh, and Wendie Mallick. As one who is a huge Father of the Bride fan, I was super excited to see Kimberly Williams Paisley in this role as an attorney. Her character, Claire, often is up against Miles who is the Assistant District Attorney. I love their banter! I also appreciate that these two have a reason to be involved in the mysteries (as opposed to a random librarian who stumbles upon the dead… see below.)
TWO || Aurora Teagarden
Obviously, I love this series because of none other than Candace Cameron Bure. Aurora Teagarden is a little Nancy Drew-ish, but very fun. Two things to note about this series– I think that the mysteries have gotten better over time. This series also stands out because of the ensemble cast. You have Aurora’s mom Aida (Marilu Henner) who is completely anti-The Real Murderers Club but somehow ends up entangled with a murder. There’s also Lillian, Aurora’s boss who hates the Real Murders Club as much, if not, more than Aida. You have detectives Arthur Smith and his wife Lynn Liggett-Smith who are constantly trying to get Aurora out of the way. There’s Sally, Aurora’s BFF, who is a reporter and who you can’t help but just love. And of course, there are Aurora’s love interests, Martin (Yannick Bisson) and Nick (Niall Matter). Plus, we can’t forget the actual members of the Real Murders Club either! Can you tell? I just love this casting!
ONE || Mystery 101
Why is Mystery 101 my favorite? Jill Wagner and Kristoffer Polaha. 1000000%.
When I found out these two were making a movie, I was totally in from the beginning, especially having seen these two in Pearl in Paradise. I love how Jill’s character Amy is so incredibly smart and bookish, not to mention, she is such a boss at catching the criminals. Jill’s chemistry with Polaha is literally the best. They are such a dynamic duo. I love how Amy is incredibly persistent when it comes to Travis’ skepticism, especially in the early movies. And I love how Travis becomes so protective over Amy and her well-being.
Each movie has me on my toes trying to guess who the criminal or murderer is. I’m pretty good and can usually spot the red herrings, but there have been a few that have tripped me up!
Let me know what your rankings are for your top five Hallmark mystery series. I’d love to know. If you want to hear my thoughts about the other mysteries, I have some exciting news… tomorrow (June 17), you can catch me talking about ALL of the Hallmark mysteries on the Hallmarkies Podcast with Rachel and the gals from Hallmark Channel’s Bubbly Sesh, Jacks and Shawl. Rachel, Jacks and Shawl are so much fun to chat with, so I hope you get a chance to tune in. You can find the Hallmarkies Podcast wherever podcasts are found.
PS: If you’re thinking WAIT! What about Signed Sealed Delivered?! Yall, that series is a category on its own and can’t even compare! Obviously, I think it’s the best series ever and you can read all about my thoughts here.