The premise of Mystery Woman: Sing Me a Murder finds Samantha Kinsey, the owner of a small town's local bookstore, agreeing to allow a washed-up 70s folk band play a reunion concert at her store. Meanwhile, her friend and confidant, Philby, is melancholy over a friend's recent death. When The Ramblers' producer is murdered, everyone involved is a suspect, and it is up to Samantha and Philby to figure it out.
I've thought the world of Kellie Martin since her debut as Becca Thatcher on the much beloved television series Life Goes On. Even though the show was supposed to be about Becca's brother, Corky, who suffered from Down Syndrome, Martin's strong acting chops resulted in most of the later storylines focusing on her character. Since then, she has enjoyed an extensive television career on shows like ER and in countless made-for-television movies. Unfortunately, her talents are wasted in this particular movie, given that all she has to do stand around, looked shocked once in a while, and ask the occasional question of investigators and suspects. She is a terrific actress, and this shines through in all of her work, but the material here is less than compelling. A half-hour into the movie, you won't care about who was killed, why, or by whom.
Add to it that the acting by the supporting players (everyone but Martin and the actor who plays Philby) is abysmal. Days of our Lives fans may recognize Austin Peck, who was absolutely awful as the character of Austin on that show, as a character in this movie. That gives you an idea of how much care and concern went into casting this movie.
Mystery Woman: Sing Me a Murder plays like an extended episode of Murder, She Wrote, from the way the murder is committed, and even down to the score, which is quite similar. Don't get me wrong – I adored Murder, She Wrote, but when a show is that well done and achieves the longevity it did, imitations are fairly easy to spot. It's like all the lawyer shows that cropped up after the phenomenal run of L.A. Law. The tagline for the film actually compares the character of Samantha Kinsey to Jessica Fletcher, so it's not like they're trying to hide the similarities. The most heinous comparison is to Nancy Drew, who although fictional, was far more compelling a heroine than Kinsey. Puh-lease. It's as though the makers of this film were desperate to get anyone to watch it, rather than allowing it to stand on its own merits. What a disappointment.
Mystery Woman: Sing Me a Murder is fine for an afternoon's entertainment, but don't expect more than that. It would have worked much better as an hour-long, weekly series – an hour-and-a-half with such thin material is a stretch.