Ever since the debut of Sherlock Holmes, murder mysteries have tended to skew towards an all-male cast of characters. From Hercule Poirot and Arthur Hastings to Endeavour Morse and Fred Thursday, most of these series are male-centric stories, viewpoints, and attitudes. But with mystery audiences tending to skew heavily female, the rise of women detectives like Miss Fisher and Miss Eliza Scarlet has been a belated follow-up to Miss Marple. The newest female-centric mystery to head to PBS' Masterpiece is Magpie Murders, stars future Dame Lesley Manville (World on Fire) as editor Susan Ryeland, who becomes an unlikely detective.
Adapted by British author Anthony Horowitz from his own novel, Magpie Murders is an interesting puzzle box of a story, a novel within a novel that will help solve the overall mystery. When Ryeland finally receives the long-awaited manuscript for the next book from author Alan Conway, she's over the moon to get it ready for publishing — until she realizes the last chapter is nowhere to be found. Her hunt for the missing pages turns into a gruesome discovery of Conway's body; however, it's the realization the unfinished novel holds the key to his death that turns her into an amateur sleuth.
Aided by Conway's leading detective on the page, Atticus Pünd, Ryeland digs into the case, and the results are not what she expects. Check out the trailer:
Here's the official synopsis:
Book editor Susan Ryeland 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 will co-star in the series with Conleth Hill (Vienna Blood) as Conway and Timothy McMullan (Patrick Melrose) as his alter-ego detective Atticus Pünd. The series also features a laundry list of stars fans will recognize, including 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 series is being treated as a prestige TV series, with The Full Monty's Peter Cattaneo directing all episodes. The show has not yet been picked up for Season 2, but hopefully, if the U.S. response is good enough, fans will see more Manville solving crimes in the years to come.
All six episodes of Magpie Murders are already streaming on the far side of the pond, released in binge format on BritBox U.K. The series is expected to run as a weekly release on PBS under the Masterpiece banner and hopefully will also be a PBS Passport binge. Though there is no release date yet, the show has been confirmed for 2022 and is currently believed to be a fall debut as part of the 2022-2023 TV season.