The Thursday Murder Club is the debut novel from Richard Osman, he of Pointless and House of Games fame. He’s always come across as an intelligent guy with a way with words, so giving it a go was a no-brainer. I’m so glad that I did – I absolutely adored it.
Set in Coopers Chase Retirement Village, an upmarket retirement home in Kent, the novel follows the amateur sleuthing efforts of a small group of retirees who meet on a Thursday (they can only get a two-hour slot in the Jigsaw Room then, in between the meetings of the Art History Club and the Conversational French group) to try to solve a number of cold murder cases.
Using the benefits of their varied expertise, they investigate the case files left by ex-police inspector Penny, a founding member of the Club since lost to the ravages of dementia and moved to the nearby Willows nursing home. Now the group consists of Ibrahim (former psychiatrist), Ron (former Trade Union leader), Joyce (former nurse), and their unofficial leader, Elizabeth, who has a background veiled in mystery of the ‘if I told you what I did, I’d have to kill you’ kind.
The cold cases are quickly set aside, however, when there is a murder related to Cooper’s Chase. The business partner of the scheming owner of the retirement village is found dead at his home, so Elizabeth and the gang swing into action. Roping in the unwilling and sometimes unwitting involvement of two members of the local police force, they throw themselves into the investigation and find that nobody is beneath consideration.
Told in a combination of epistolary and narrative form, The Thursday Murder Club is a gentle but sometimes bittersweet cosy murder mystery that I simply can’t pick fault with. The characters are fantastic, especially Elizabeth, who is devious and manipulative, but always in a polite and understated way, so that you don’t realise you’ve been manipulated until after it happens (and you end up not minding anyway). Joyce’s relationship with her daughter is poignant and sincere, and made me miss my own Mam so much. The mystery aspect throws up multiple diversions and red herrings, and I admit that I couldn’t figure out who the killer(s) was/were before the end.
For a debut novel, Osman has done fantastically. If there isn’t a sequel, I am going to be so incredibly cross. Everybody needs Elizabeth in their life.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.