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Magpie Murders–A Bird in the Hand?

Magpie Murders, based on the 2016 mystery by Anthony Horowitz, is the  first in the Susan Ryeland series. The story focuses on the murder of bestselling author Alan Conway (Conleth Hill), whose Atticus Pund mysteries have long been readers’ favorites.

Using a mystery-within-a-mystery structure, Magpie Murders, has Atticus Pund (Tim McMullan), the fictional character in Conway’s latest mystery titled “Magpie Murders”, solve several murders while Susan Ryeland (the always worth-watching Lesley Manville), identifies clues for us to connect.  And the question she also raises:  Was Conway’s death murder or suicide?

In a clever parallelism of  character arcs,  Pund sometimes stands in for Conway’s alter-ego and at other times, Susan Ryeland’s. The case of the murdered villagers in the novel resemble the motivations behind the untimely death of Conway: greed, revenge, and resentment.   Are there any connections between these two main characters?

The cinematic device of actually having Atticus Pund appear in a rather ghostly form to Susan is a bit over-the-top and slogs the momentum as she tries to analyze the data points of the missing-manuscript puzzle.  In one of my favorite scenes, a frustrated Conway refers to Atticus Pund by a pejorative acronym which also refers to a woman’s body part.

At times hilarious and entertaining with an excellent cast, this “Masterpiece Theater” six-episode series will definitely please the PBS faithful audience of British-style whodunits.  Every clue is laid out for the careful viewer who understands that what you have seen can be–and often is–different from what you think you have seen.

Let the sleuthing begin!

Availability:  PBS streaming and Masterpiece Theater

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