Published by Viking
Publication date – 3 September 2020
Source – review copy
In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.
But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.
Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.
Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?
The members of the Thursday Murder Club meet up once per week, when the Knitting Club aren’t using the meeting room, to discuss old unsolved crimes. When a new, not yet solved murder, lands on their doorstep, they jump (hips permitting), at the chance to solve it. Then another murder occurs and skeletons are unearthed. Have the Thursday Murder Club bitten off more than they can chew?
Now Richard Osman doesn’t need me to write a favourable review of his book to help it sell. He probably doesn’t need anyone to write a favourable review of his book to help it sell. His name alone is the only marketing the book needs. So the book will sell, but is it any good? The answer, in my opinion, for what that’s worth, is yes.
There are a host of delightful characters, from the founder member of the Thursday Murder Club, Elizabeth, to the latest member, Joyce.
The narration moves between the first person perspective of Joyce and her diary and third person. This doesn’t alter the flow of the story. Joyce’s musing add to the picture and like the rest of the novel, are filled with gentle humour, though unintentional on the behalf of Joyce. There are some lovely scenes between the friends, thrown together by accident when they find themselves living together in the retirement village of Cooper’s Chase. There’s Ron, the fiery former Labour Unionist, and Ibrahim, the retired psychologist, an unlikely pairing in their youth, now firm friends. Elizabeth has a past. One she can’t talk about (on account of the Official Secrets Act) but mentions regularly. Joyce is a former nurse, still missing her husband but also on the look out for potential partners. As the story progresses we see that Joyce may not have come to live at the village through her own choice, and that her daughter may have parked her there.
Police officers PC Donna De Frietas and DCI Chris Hudson really don’t know what’s hit them when the Thursday Murder Club get involved, or rather, allow them to be involved in their unofficial detecting. They are pestered, cajoled and brilliantly manipulated into allowing the foursome into the investigation. From Donna’s security talk which takes a bewildering turn to talks about murder to a scheme involving a fake nun that inveigles Donna into the investigation team, the police officers soon realise they are one step behind and that the sleuthing septuagenarians will eventually keep them updated. The pair work well together, and their relationships takes off in a pleasing direction.
The villains of the piece are dastardly in a comic way. Ian Ventham is the owner of Cooper’s Chase and a man only interested in his looks and money, and not always in that order. He is constantly looking for the next deal to undercut and needs people who can’t even spell scruples, let alone have any, to help him. So he knows he’s running the risk of sacking Tony Curran, his builder and business partner, who made his money through less salubrious, and legal ways, and who has, if rumours are to be believed, disappeared a few bodies of his own in his time. He’s found another partner, Bogdan, who appears to have better control of his violent urges, though isn’t afraid to pretend otherwise.
This is very much an ensemble piece. Each character adds something to the story and isn’t out of place or incidental.
As the story progresses the relationships develop too. The reader finds out more about Elizabeth and her husband Stephen, and Penny, the former founder member of the Murder Club who is now in a hospital bed. The relationship between Elizabeth and Bogden is a delight and Joyce’s daughter starts to see her mum in a different light.
This is very much a cosy crime. Yes there are murders, but they are discreetly told in a Sunday night TV Miss Marple kind of way, rather than a post watershed Cracker gore. The humour is littered throughout, observational and easy to identify with. It tends to be the accepted norm that growing older isn’t fun. The Thursday Murder Club disprove that.
There are many strands to the story. Perhaps one less would have worked better but on the whole it worked well.
If you love funny, warm-hearted, light murder mysteries, then The Thursday Murder Club is a book for you. I’m already looking forward to the next instalment.
I really did love my introduction to the Thursday Murder Club. I hope I can be a member when I grow up.