Is "The Atticus McLaren Mysteries: Murder at the Museum" Your New And Diverse "Murder, She Wrote"?

In the long distant year of 2018, Spring Horton announced that they would make The Atticus Mclaren Mysteries into a cinematic adventure. If you haven't heard about these stories before, take a seat:

Atticus is an autistic man who lives in the UK. He loves every sort of mystery, and his garden. Despite this, he is not a detective and does not actively seek out to solve any sort of crime. Instead, these mysteries fall into his lap without meaning to: he goes on holiday, whoops there is this skull. By his side is his brother, and friends.

Spring Horton decided to turn the first adventure, Murder at the Museum, from written words to motion pictures:

In this Atticus is just trying to live his best life, taking car of his garden, photography, and working in the museum when strange things start to occur at the museum. At night, he hears strange noises and displays are being moved - not by much just a few inches. When he tries to bring attention to this, Atticus is shot down and ridiculed ... at least until there is a dead body ...

The Atticus McLaren Mysteries

How does this transcend into a different medium? 

A story is always upheld by its characters, so getting the casting right is one of the most important aspects. Horton managed to do just that. Overall, the casting is really sweet and almost everyone is exactly like I had imagined them. I especially loved the casting of Scout McLaren. He is played by Simone Kane, he looks and acts exactly how I'd imagine a slightly grumpy and retired middle-aged detective to be.

I also enjoyed how Thomas Jennings played Atticus. I know that Horton had tried to find an actual autistic person to play this part but I think Jennings does a fantastic job in conveying how life feels when you are autistic and navigating this weird world. Not only does the character tend to avoid people in general - especially shown by the fact that he would rather work at night, but even with scenes that include people Atticus already knows and trust, you are always shown that he is a little off beat.

Sometimes this happens through little sweet jokes in which Atticus is confused about human behaviour - and who isn't at times - but also minor characteristics in his movements and composure. Despite his awkwardness with social interaction, it is never treated distasteful or as the butt of a joke. The story and the characters are very respective and understanding of Atticus' autism. It is also never shown as a negative feature or that it should be fixed. The show even takes the time to discuss it in further detail - as it is part of the character and plot.

However, as with most things in life, there is a bit a downside. Murder at the Museum is not the strongest mystery, even in book form. Since the episodes sticks very close to the original, this does translate.

Furthermore, the pace is slowed down towards the end when I felt it should have been uppened to keep the viewer at the edge of their seat. For example, there is a touching scene with Atticus and Scott cleaning the air between them. This happens a few minutes after a vital piece of information has been found and after this scene the big climax happens. While the brotherly scene is one of my favourite it completely breaks the pace, and I felt it would have been better to place it towards the end and re-write the script a little bit.

The Atticus McLaren Mysteries
Then the cinematography had been a little lacking. The shot of the ruin at the beginning is quite impressive but that's as fantastic as it gets. There is a whole coffee shop scene in front of Edinburgh castle but we never get to see the whole castle. I feel that this is quite a shame because it is a beautiful city and country.

At the same time, I am aware that money and camera equipment is limited and not everything is Broadchurch with overly dramatic cliff shots. During talking scenes, the shots are clear and on point.

"Murder at the Museum" takes you along and gives you various question to which you try to find the answer yourself: what kind of scheme is this? Is Atticus really a reliable narrator or not? Who might be the murderer? And is it really the person I suspect? In the end, it takes another turn when you are already sure it is that person but ... nope. Maybe that was just me and I shouldn't be a detective.

In the end, "Murder at the Museum" has a similar feeling to "Murder, She Wrote." It is not heavy viewing that intends to confuse you with riddles, or wants to shock you by trying to out-drama itself. It also does not focus heavily on the pains and emotions involved in an investigation. Instead it remains rather human, these are three people who are taking on a mystery with the intention to solve it. It's light and sweet - which is a strange thing to write when someone has been murdered - and takes you along without trying to outwit you at the same time.

I must admit, that this is something I hadn't experienced a long time in regards of murder mysteries.

The Atticus McLaren Mystries: Murder at the Museum A Divergence Productions production
Written by Spring Horton
Directed bySpring Horton
Released in 2019 on Amazon Videoand vimeo
Episode Number: 1

Learn More About The Atticus McLaren Mysteries: 


  1. I'm kinda gutted that this isn't on the UK Amazon video. I've not heard anything about this from the Autistic community, and it would be interesting to watch it from my Autistic perspective and see how well I feel it represents us.
    It's good to know that they tried to find an autistic actor, although I'm sad that they didn't cast one in the end.

    1. You can always watch on vimeo, which is what I did and it worked great. I am curious what your opinion on it would be :)

  2. This sounds really interesting. Although I find it odd that Amazon didn't give us it in the UK seeing how it's set here. I also think it's great they tried to find an autistic person to do the job, that's a nice touch. Can't be an easy role to play x


    1. Yeah, I also thought that it amazon didn't just open it for all of their shops. But it's only hosted there, not produced by amazon. And the international version works for all countries. So that's not too bad.


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