The Lesley Manvilleaissance is officially in full swing. The actress hit the Masterpiece drama lotto with her turn as one of the headlining members of the World on Fire ensemble, followed by landing the position of Princess Margaret in the final two seasons of The Crown over on Netflix. Now she's going to add the mystery square to her bingo card with a leading turn in the new adaptation of Anthony Horowitz's acclaimed Magpie Murders. The series, a PBS co-production under the Masterpiece brand with BritBox UK, recently finished filming, and the first photos are now out.
The new mystery series comes on the heels of Masterpiece's last success story with a female-led mystery series, Miss Scarlet and the Duke. That series, based around the fictional Eliza Scarlet, who opened the first female-led private detective agency in Victorian London, was a big enough draw for PBS that Masterpiece has picked up production of it for a second season. Magpie Murders is not a period piece mystery but a present-day set one (something Masterpiece is starting to run short on), making this one of the few female-led mysteries that will not include bustles, flapper gear, or 1960s miniskirts.
Manville stars as book editor Susan Ryeland, who investigates this case when her best mystery writer, Alan Conway, dies, leaving her his unfinished manuscript. When she starts reading the story (which features his usual alter-ego character Atticus Pünd), she discovers the ending is missing, which may not be an accident. As she searches for those final pages, she starts to believe his novel, and its mystery holds the key to his death.
Here's the series official synopsis:
Anthony Horowitz' bestselling novel centers on book editor Susan Ryelandwho is given an unfinished manuscript by best-selling mystery writer Alan Conway featuring Conway's longtime main character, detective Atticus Pünd. When she attempts to attain the final chapters from Conway, she finds herself in the middle of a shocking mystery case of her own that will change her life in ways she never expected.
Manville is only the top line of an A-list cast. Conway will be played by Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones), and his alter-ego Pünd will be portrayed by Timothy McMullan (Patrick Melrose). The series co-stars Daniel Mays (Line of Duty), Alexandros Logothetis (The Island), Claire Rushbrook (Home Fires), Matthew Beard (Dracula), Pippa Haywood (Bridgerton), and Michael Maloney (The Crown). The Full Monty's Peter Cattaneo will direct all episodes. Horowitz, known to TV viewers for his hit series Foyle's War, will adapt his work for the screen.
Magpie Murders is merely awaiting a release date for either side of the pond. Filming took place in London, Suffolk, and Ireland, and principal photography is now finished. It's not clear when the show will air on BritBox UK, but with 2021 already packed to the gills with mystery shows, including Grantchester and Baptiste, it seems likely Masterpiece will hold Magpie Murders until 2022 at the earliest.