While Masterpiece certainly has no shortage of prestige mystery series in its stable (see also: Endeavour, Grantchester, Van Der Valk, Vienna Blood, Baptiste and many more) there are markedly fewer shows that feature a female lead taking charge of solving crimes. There's Miss Scarlet & the Duke, of course, which tells the story of the fictional Eliza Scarlet, who opened the first female-led detective agency in Victorian London. And Nicola Walker has made something of a cottage industry out of playing a gusty female detective in various crime dramas of all stripes (Unforgotten, Annika). But as great as those series all are, audiences are still clamoring for more female-led content in this particular genre. (As we all should be, honestly!)
Enter Lesley Manville. The Oscar nominee is set to star as book editor turned amateur sleuth Susan Ryeland in the television adaptation of Anthony Horowitz's bestselling novel Magpie Murders. Horowitz, likely best known to Anglophiles for the long-running period series Foyle's War, is also an acclaimed author and tells a "mystery within a mystery" style story in his latest series of novels. (Second book Moonflower Murders arrived on shelves in late 2020.)
Manville plays book editor Susan Ryeland, who is thrilled when she finally receives the latest manuscript from her client, the unpleasant prima donna author Alan Conway. The long-awaited book is the next installment featuring his famous detective, Atticus Pünd, and Ryeland is over the moon. Or, at least, she is until she realizes the manuscript is unfinished and the last chapter is missing. Her hunt for the missing pages leads to the gruesome discovery of Conway's body and Ryeland's realization that the key to his death may well be buried in the clues of his final novel. And, thus, a new amateur sleuth is born.
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 has been everywhere on the small screen of late, starring in period drama World on Fire, taking over the role of Princess Margaret for the final two seasons of The Crown, and playing the elder Madame de Mertueil in Starz's upcoming Dangerous Liaisons prequel series.
Here, she leads a strong ensemble that includes Vienna Blood's Conleth Hill as Conway and Patrick Melrose's Timothy McMullan as his alter-ego Atticus Pünd. Other familiar faces include Daniel Mays (Line of Duty), Alexandros Logothetis (The Island), Claire Rushbrook (Home Fires), Matthew Beard (Dracula), Pippa Haywood (Bridgerton), and Michael Maloney (The Crown).
There's no official U.S. premiere date set just yet for Magpie Murders, though Masterpiece has confirmed the series will air at a still-to-be-determined point in Fall 2022, along with the return of Miss Scarlet & the Duke and the premiere of new crime drama Annika.