Magpie Murders: Magpie Murders (all episodes)
November 21, 2022 7:31 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Alan Conway is the best-selling (if difficult) author of the Atticus Pünd mystery novels. But when the manuscript for his latest book is delivered to his publishers missing the last chapter, and then Conway mysteriously turns up dead, his editor Susan Ryeland must solve both mysteries.

Adapted by British mystery stalwart Anthony Horowitz (Foyle's War, Midsomer Murders) from his own best-selling novel, this six-episode limited series jumps between the mystery-in-the-novel (set in the 1950s and starring Tim McMullan as laconic detective Pünd) and the modern-day search for the missing chapter and the truth behind Conway's death (starring Lesley Manville as Ryeland), in a meta-mystery for fans of Agatha Christie and BBC mystery series.

Also starring Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones) as Conway, Alexandros Logothetis, Michael Maloney, Claire Rushbrook, and a bunch of others.

100% Fresh Rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Streaming on PBS and Amazon.

Note: Because this is a full-season post (and all episodes are now available), spoilers are fine, including references to Horowitz's novel.
posted by Ben Trismegistus (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Full disclosure: I loved it. Big fan of the novel, and I thought the adaptation was impeccable. Great performances, beautifully shot, and because it had been a while since I read the book, I'd forgotten the solution and got to be surprised with everyone else. Highly recommend.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:32 AM on November 21


I quite enjoyed this! It felt like the actors were having fun with the dual roles.
posted by humbug at 8:45 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]


Agreed! In particular, I was impressed by the actor playing James Taylor/Fraser, who managed to make two completely different but believable characters. (In the book, Fraser is more explicitly a doofus, making the insult to Taylor more obvious.)
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:39 AM on November 21 [2 favorites]


I liked how the two timelines segued, Susan Ryeland in driving past Atticus Pünd in his car stopped at a junction. I loved the dreamlike scene when she followed him in her bathrobe to the solution of the book murder. Tim McMullan plays a lot of mysterious, vaguely menacing characters so this detached but benevolent role was neat.

One thing I experienced watching each episode, I was always surprised when it ended (after 45 minutes but I wasn’t watching the clock). It seemed like the show had only been on for 20 minutes or so when the screen went black. Something about the pacing, I expected another scene. Weird.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:48 AM on November 21 [2 favorites]


I agree with you on the timing. Each episode was 52-53 minutes, but I was always surprised when it ended. I didn't have a sense that the pacing was off - I figured that I was sufficiently into it that the time passed more quickly.

I don't recall seeing Tim McMullan in anything else, although reading his credits, I've definitely watched movies he was in, but don't remember him in particular. I quite liked his portrayal of Pünd but was occasionally distracted by his weird eyes. (My fault, not his.)
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 12:53 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]


Great little miniseries, and I loved the meshing of the two timelines. That was really clever.

One question, though, when Andreas asks Alan Conway for money and first he refuses... then changes his mind when he understands Susan is involved.

Was that just to make sure Susan was around for the big reveal at the end? Was the second anagram directed at her from 10 years ago? Or was it directed at his ex-wife since Alan mentions the Pünd series was her idea?

okay that's three questions, sorry
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:47 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]


One question, though, when Andreas asks Alan Conway for money and first he refuses... then changes his mind when he understands Susan is involved.

Was that just to make sure Susan was around for the big reveal at the end? Was the second anagram directed at her from 10 years ago? Or was it directed at his ex-wife since Alan mentions the Pünd series was her idea?


My understanding is that Alan ends up giving Andreas the money because it means he will have some control over the hotel and can make Susan's life miserable just out of spite. (Although I have difficulty squaring that explanation with the fact that Alan already knows he's dying at that point, but maybe he believes he can spend what time he has left being a twat.)

As for the anagram, I believe it is meant to refer to Pünd himself (in the sense that the Brits use that word in a more genderless fashion than Americans do). I'm fuzzy about what Conway thought was going to happen when and if the anagram were revealed, but I think the plan was mainly to destroy his own legacy to ensure people don't make money off his books after he dies.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 1:59 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


The money. Conway was a miserable SOB and anticipated the fallout once Susan read the book, realized her family story was used in the plot, and that she would eventually figure out that Andreas’s money was a loan from him and ruin their relationship. It happened that she found out almost right away and it nearly did.

I thought the second anagram was directed at the buyers/readers of the puerile [sic] Pünd books for not appreciating Conway’s serious works.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:06 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]


Such a fun, involving little series. It took about an episode-and-a-half to fully grok the structure, but once it clicked it was sweet viewing.

I would watch Lesley Manville in pretty much anything. If you haven’t caught her performance in the series Mum, I heartily recommend it to you.

My local PBS station ran Magpie Murders back-to-back with Annika, which stars another of my favorite british actors, Nicola Walker. It’s a nice couple of hours of plain good enjoyment.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:33 PM on November 21 [3 favorites]


Thanks, Ben and TWinbrook8. That makes a lot more sense.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:51 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


By the way, in the book, you get more of Conway's "serious" novel, and it's really hysterically bad. Horowitz must have had fun writing it.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:25 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]


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