More people should watch this fascinating mystery on Prime Video

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Why would someone kill someone? The fictional detective Atticus Pond asks this question in the fascinating British mystery series Magpie murder before answering it based on his crime-solving experience as the star of a best-selling mystery book series. “I can think of four reasons,” he says. “Fear, jealousy, anger and desire.”

That doesn’t limit the suspects in the case of Pond’s creator, author Alan Conway, who suffers a fatal fall shortly after delivering his highly-anticipated latest novel, The Magenta Murders, to his publisher. No one seems to like the prickly and brash writer played by Kenneth Hale (Lord Varys on Game of Thrones). Not her son or her scorned young lover, who has just been kicked out of Conway’s country manor in Suffolk. Not her sister, who resents the “grotesque loser” personas her siblings clearly base her on. Certainly not the angry writer who claims Conway ripped him off.

Start twisting yourself Hercule Poirot’s command of the ‘stache, you have a lot of motivations and potential leads to think about here. And once you’ve been through six witty and suspenseful episodes PBS series Masterpiece Also currently streaming Amazon Prime videoyou may not want to apply your gray matter to other things.

See, it’s not just Conway that’s based on this meta time travel mystery 2016 bestselling book of the same name by Anthony Horowitz. The story-within-a-story format also follows the events of Conway’s own novel The Magpie Murders, which sees the decapitation of one of Magnus Pye’s heads, a wealthy citizen hated by his own enemies in the 1950s. Here you get more than one mystery for the price of one, with impressively interwoven storytelling that seamlessly connects parallel and intersecting timelines.

The overlap involves actors doing double duty in past and present narratives, and the conceit works well to reinforce recurring motifs. For example, the actor who currently plays Conway’s son also plays Pie’s son in Conway’s The Magpie Murders – and they both hate their fathers. The actress who plays Sister Conway also portrays Sister Pie in the 50s – and both have significant resentments towards their brothers.

Charles Clover, Conway’s publisher, is convinced that the author died of his own accord (ibid Was Finally, a suicide note). But as Conway’s editor Susan Ryland searches for the last missing chapter of The Magpie Murders, she begins to have doubts.

It’s a good thing that the dapper Pound has stepped out of the pages of Conway’s novels and into Ryland’s imagination to guide him as he transitions from editor to amateur detective. Finding out how and why Conway died may lead Ryland to the MIA manuscript so that his employer, Clover Books, can bring their best-selling author’s latest work to readers eager to solve another Pound mystery. “A Whodunit without a solution … isn’t even worth the paper it’s not printed on,” he laments.

Pond (Tim McMullan, Patrick Melrose) and the ambitious and often deluded Ryland (the amazing Leslie Manville from Phantom Thread and Mike Leigh’s Another Year) make up a formidable investigative team as they make their way through modern, enigmatic London. Mid-20th century Saxby-on-Avon, a charming fictional village where neighbors greet each other on a main street lined with flower stalls and quaint antique shops. It is also a city of dark buried secrets and the site of the agonizing murder of Sir Magnus Pye in Conway’s novel The Magenta Murders.

If it all seems a bit confusing, the strength of the series, expertly directed by Peter Cattaneo (The Full Monty), is how it can flow between timelines, often in very creative ways. . For example, in one scene, Pound and his assistant reach a fork in the road in their 1950s car, when Who zips by in his little red sports car to bring us back to the present? Susan Ryland.

The past and the present also reflect each other in themes: parent-child relationships, death, deception and cruelty. “Everything in life is part of a pattern,” Atticus Pound tells his weak assistant in The Magpie Murders. I’ll leave it up to you to check which ones are used.

A detective leans against a 1950s car while talking to a cop in Magpie Murders

Daniel Mays stars as 1950s detective Raymond Chubb in Magpie Murders. Like the other cast members of the time travel series, he does double duty and appears as a secondary character in present-day scenes.

Nick Wall/PBS

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