Show name: Magpie Murders
Release date: 2022
Genre: Murder mystery
Starring: Lesley Manville, Conleth Hill
Directed by: Peter Cattaneo
Length: 6 episodes
Magpie Murders is a TV adaptation by Anthony Horowitz of his book of the same name.
Anthony Horowitz has a long history of writing within the murder mystery genre, having written Foyle’s War, Midsomer Murders, Agatha Christie’s Poirot and more besides.
Susan Ryeland (Lesley Manville) is a book editor whose employer Charles Clover (Michael Maloney) is about to sell Clover Books.
She has been offered the job of CEO but isn’t sure that it’s for her.
In the meantime, her long-term partner Andreas (Alexandros Logothetis) is about to give up his teaching job and head off to Crete to open a hotel. He wants Susan to join him.
Susan’s personal and professional choices take a back seat when Clover Books’ star author Alan Conway (Conleth Hill) is found dead at the foot of a tower at his home in Suffolk.
Susan’s concerns are two-fold: has Alan been murdered and where is the final chapter of his current book, Magpie Murders?
Her boss seems remarkably keen to accept that a note he received from Alan indicates the intention to commit suicide, but Susan is far from convinced.
After all. Everyone she knows loathes Alan and plenty of people in Suffolk would be happy to see him gone.
They do share a frustration that the last chapter of Magpie Murders is missing, however. Alan Conway is their best-selling author, after all.
Susan begins to investigate the murder of Alan in Suffolk, and she also dives into the text of Magpie Murders.
This is a story within the main story. It features Atticus Pund (Tim McMullan) and it’s set in the Fifties. Pund is Alan Conway’s famous detective, and he features in all of Conway’s books.
As Susan reads the manuscript, we enjoy the drama as a separate murder mystery. Intriguingly, multiple actors play characters in the Pund mystery as well as the modern-day character in Alan’s life that inspired his fictional characters.
For example, Alan’s boyfriend James (Matthew Beard) also plays Pund’s sidekick Fraser. Susan’s father (Lorcan Cranitch) plays the murder victim in the Pund drama. And so on.
This aspect was really clever.
We continue to be fascinated by period murder mysteries, but we also can’t get enough of contemporary crime drama.
Magpie Murders is a wonderful, inventive example of how the two can be combined together.
The story within a story and the consequent reflection upon the nature of creativity makes Magpie Murders a great piece of postmodernism.
The filming location for Magpie Murders in Suffolk was truly beautiful. The coloured houses, the little ford in the main street and the lovely surrounding countryside really made the location for me.
Magpie Murders is available in the US and Canada on DVD.
It is also currently showing on BBC here in the UK.
You can also watch it on Amazon Prime. Here's an affiliate link! https://amzn.to/3KxSFEb
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If you’ve enjoyed this review, you might be interested reading in my review of Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.
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