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The Differences Between Magpie Murders' Novel And TV Series

Mystery novels and Hollywood have a storied past. For decades, TV and movie producers have mined Agatha Christie novels, Sherlock Holmes stories, and many other popular mysteries, often churning out cinematic gold. Perhaps it's no real shock, then, that PBS' "Magpie Murders" has become one of TV's latest hit mystery shows. It's based on the Anthony Horowitz novel of the same name, after all, and has a thrilling mystery at its core. However, there are two main changes from the book to the series that fans have taken note of.

In the show, Lesley Manville's character Susan Ryeland is attempting to solve the mystery of a famous writer's death. However, she takes on a larger role in the series than in the novel, as she is now the audience's narrator throughout the events of "Magpie Murders." Additionally, Ryeland's investigation carries more weight in the series, since her sleuthing takes precedence over the 1955-set story-within-a-story that took up more real estate in the source novel.

Fans of the novel shouldn't be disappointed, however. The series' executive producer has excellent justifications for each of these decisions.

Simply put, the series makes things easier to follow

Discussing "Magpie Murders" at a press event, executive producer Jill Green admitted that Anthony Horowitz's "Magpie Murders" novel employed a slightly complicated structure. "In the book, there's a lot in 1955, and a huge number of characters involved in several murders inside that murder mystery, and a very small amount is contemporary," she said. "And what we decided to do was to flip the two over and make the contemporary story almost 70 percent of the drama."

In addition to giving Lesley Manville's protagonist Susan Ryeland more screen time, this also provided the series with more of a narrative backbone. This naturally lent itself to centering Ryeland as the "reliable narrator" of the show. "I really felt that she needed to carry us, the audience, through all of the complexities that the script is presenting," added Green.

Ultimately, the decision appeared to pay off, as "Magpie Murders" was recently renewed for a Season 2 at the BBC. And while it likely won't appear on American TV screens until 2024, it will definitely be intriguing. Season 2 will apparently adapt the novel "Moonflower Murders," which served as the sequel to "Magpie Murders" and earned equally great reviews.