I’m a little embarrassed to admit how excited I was to see a new Masterpiece Mystery series pop up on my PBS Passport app.
It’s a cozy mystery, a crime-fiction genre for which I have mixed feelings. I love Miss Marple, of course—Agatha Christie is our forever queen of the cozy, and my fondness for Rosemary & Thyme is absolute. (Big Linen Shirt-wearing garden designers? I am ALL IN.)
But some of the long-running cozies—which I won’t name here because the people who love them also know lots of super sneaky ways to silence a person permanently—leave me cold. They are often set in a parallel universe in which everyone is in late middle age, living in a well-appointed manor or cottage in a fictional English village, and having a tweedy and tasteful life, and I just cannot relate.
(OK, come at me with your melting ice daggers: yes, I’m talking about Midsomer Murders. It’s just too dang cozy for me, ok? Is that a crime?)
Cue up your local PBS schedule and watch Magpie Murders, adapted from his book by author and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz. It’s witty and fun, and the cast—starring the magnificent Lesley Manville as our amateur sleuth—is excellent. It’s a 1950s mystery wrapped in a 2020s mystery, about a mystery writer.
Manville’s character, Susan Ryeland, is a big-city editor who’s dragged into the story in an effort to save her company and career. She’s a stylish woman of a certain age, opinionated, funny, and sexy—this ain’t Rosemary & Thyme. I see more mysteries ahead for her, if only someone else in her world will conveniently drop dead under unexplained circumstances.
Bonus treats: London street scenes and interiors of the present, and a Suffolk village in the 1950s. Everything is beautiful and richly detailed, and there are lots of people and scenes that figure in the story lines of both the past and the present. I have a feeling it’s going to get really complicated, so: garter stitch advisory is in effect.
Grab your knitting and enjoy.