GOURMET DETECTIVE: A Healthy Place to Die – When a journalist is found murdered during a gourmet food conference at a luxurious resort, chef-turned-sleuth Henry Ross teams up with beautiful, no-nonsense police detective Maggie Price to solve the culinary crime. Together, they work to untangle a web of mystery – involving the journalist, a movie star and high-profile fixtures of the San Francisco restaurant scene – and solve the murder before the killer gets away.
POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT: When reviewing mystery films, I always go out of my way to not reveal “whodunnit,” and in general, my reviews are spoiler-free. While I am very cautious about how and what I share, I can’t guarantee that I won’t reveal something about the film you did not know. In addition to this, since this is a film series, it is assumed that you are familiar with and/or have seen the first installment. If you are concerned about potential revelations, please do not read any more of this review. However, if you feel you can trust my tactfulness, please do read on.
I cannot even begin to tell you how electrified I was to screen this film as this is my absolute favorite of Hallmark mystery brand. I think it safe to say this is my daughter’s favorite too, as she agreed to screen it with me (and for an active 12-year-old girl, that is saying something). I couldn’t have been more pleased to see Dylan Neal and Brooke Burns reprising their delightful roles, but I also discovered a few surprises along the way. This film did not disappoint, and it is my supreme honor to bestow my “stamp of approval” upon this highly engaging movie.
Featured in the picture (besides Dylan and Brooke) are two other crucial characters in this film. Be sure to watch for Matthew Keven Anderson as Munro and Marc Senior as Bailey. Though pleased with both in the first film, they are even more impressive in this second film. Furthermore, as a team (Maggie might not agree with the inclusion of Henry), this group is sheer delight on the screen, thus leading to the major success of this dazzling film series.
As the head of the force, Samantha Ferris plays the dominant but reasonable Captain Forsyth. She is also reprising her role, and I enjoyed her even more this time around. She is probably the only one who can truly stand up to Maggie, and she is especially charmed by Henry (much to Maggie’s chagrin). I have seen this talented lady in several other works (she has quite an extensive resume), and undoubtedly no one could play this “tough as nails” role better than she.
This was the colossal surprise for me. I noticed this character, the snooty, bad-tempered actress, but I couldn’t place her. My daughter and I were watching, and I just had to look it up. The moment I did, I discovered it was none other than Devon Weigel who played Viola in When Calls the Heart! That’s right! So #Hearties you will relish seeing her in this role as she portrays the actress Danielle (who is somewhat reminiscent of that “mean” sister of Elizabeth’s). I am not familiar with Devon’s other roles, but it was a delectation to see her, and I will watch for her in other roles in the future. Quite the versatile actress is she.
Seeing Crystal Lowe was not a surprise as she had tweeted about her involvement in the film. Although Crystal plays what would seem like an obscure role (Gretchen), it makes no difference. She plays her role as brilliantly as anything else she does (she is best known amongst #Postables as Rita from Signed, Sealed, Delivered, and my daughter was so exhilarated as we watched it since that’s one of her favorite characters from that show). Gretchen is one of those characters that you don’t think is important because she doesn’t draw attention to herself, but as you can see from this photo, it might be worthwhile watching out for her. Sometimes those smaller characters in mysteries are just the ones who become essential to ultimately solving the crime.
Speaking of the storyline, again this is a “cozy” mystery. In fact, there is truly nothing inappropriate for families (except for a couple of exclamations of “Oh my God” which honestly didn’t bother me), and I think everyone could enjoy this film together. My daughter is twelve, and she and I both worked hard to attempt to solve the murder. Did we eventually figure it out? Well, we were close (and as far as Dylan is concerned, he always says that’s never good enough. You have to figure out all the pieces of the puzzle or it doesn’t count.) As a word of advice, watch every part of the film because it’s the tiny pieces (even the part in the very beginning–hint, hint) that figure into the case. Every detail is important (I do believe Henry Ross would quite agree.)
Of course, I save the best until last, and Brooke Burns is decidedly half of this dynamic duo (Maggie might not like the way I phrased that). I simply adored Brooke in the first film as she portrayed Detective Maggie Price, the workaholic who had no time for a want-to-be sleuth like Henry Ross (and certainly no time for socializing with one like him). I thought she was astounding in the first film, but she was even better this time around. In fact, Maggie has softened just a bit towards Henry, but no worries–she still has one sharp tongue. Moreover, when that girl gets “dressed to the nines,” she looks stunning (I think Henry struggles to keep his eyes off of her–rightfully so)! I admire the fact that Maggie can stand up to Henry when needed, but she is confident enough in her skills that she can give in on the “unimportant” details (and let him think he’s winning when he’s not–don’t want to always damage his ego after all). Brooke so easily immerses herself in this role that I am completely enthralled with her. And just for the record, I will ALWAYS side with Maggie against Henry (I mean what woman wouldn’t, right?)
What can I say about the tremendous talent that is Dylan Neal? While I was introduced to him as Jack on Cedar Cove, and I’ve always treasured how he played that role, it is this series of films where I believe Dylan really shines. Because he and his wife write these films together, not only is it a testament to his multi-faceted prowess but it likewise puts him in a unique position to tailor the script to the needs of him and the other actors. While there is typically a defining role for every actor at least once in his career, there is no doubt that Henry Ross is at least one of those for Dylan. It is as though, dare I say, he was born to play this part. He is absolutely impeccable, and his attention to detail is mind-blowing. While I know that Dylan in real life can’t cook to save his life (by his own admission), he plays the role of Henry so effortlessly and with such charm and humor that I believe he is Henry Ross. I mean what woman wouldn’t fall for this suave and debonair guy? He seems like the consummate gentleman and his insight is always worth consideration. The ease with which Dylan plays this role just makes me adore Henry even more.
Together, these two are an absolute treat to watch. I cannot get enough of their banter, and it is their unusual relationship that makes this my favorite mystery series. I love watching Dylan’s facial expressions as you never have to guess what his character is thinking. No doubt that Henry is smitten with Maggie, and although Maggie is beginning to fall for his charms, she can’t let him win. In fact, their wits are matched so perfectly that this is definitely a “laugh-out-loud” movie (just make sure you don’t miss any of the essential dialogue as you enjoy their wit). It does seem that with this film, they are not so much at each other’s throats. While Maggie is not ready to concede, she is beginning to recognize the efforts of her “partner in crime.” And I would say that Henry is not always as contentious as he once was. Word of caution–if you do live tweet with these two (which I highly recommend if you can), know that these two can get going with the one-liners so fast you may be hard pressed to keep up (I speak from experience–I was so glad I had seen the film previously last time as I was laughing at their antics so much I could barely follow the film).
So what are you doing Sunday evening? Turning to the Hallmark Movies and Mystery channel and watching this highly entertaining film. You won’t be sorry.
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