Book Review: Richard Osman’s “The Thursday Murder Club”

I had read mixed reviews on this book, but – in fairness – there were plenty of reviews. In fact, it’s perhaps one of the top 10, maybe even top 5, books that have cropped-up on my bookstagram since it’s release in early September last year. Honestly, there seemed to be no escaping it for a while. Anyway, I guess the more readers, the more unimpressed reviewers. That’s just how it goes: not everything will cater to everybody’s taste.

Curious as to what my stance would be, The Thursday Murder Club had been on my wish-list for a while, but I actually ended up borrowing a hardback edition from my boyfriend’s Dad instead… Both of his parents had unwittingly brought the same book, which was quite funny. I believe they both brought it for the sake of the author: Richard Osman, who I am not overly familiar with, although I have watched Pointless. I guess that makes this review fairly unbiased: it’s just another book and another author to me.

The Plot…

Just to get it out the way really quickly, I loved this book. That’s right: I’m joining that team. This has to be the first book in a while that made me audibly chuckle, and the relaxing yet exciting Miss-Marple-style storyline was truly addictive.

Against the backdrop of an exclusive, high-end retirement village – complete with indoor pools, saunas, and dense beautiful woodland – the novel follows several endearing, witty and interesting pensioners as they play amateur detectives in their Thursday Murder Club, hosted in the Jigsaw room. Reviewing old case files of unsolved murders over tea and biscuits, M&S cake, and the odd (or more than odd) bottle of wine, they swap friendly natter and snaps of grandchildren, harshly contrasted by those of gruesome crime scenes, and horrific theories of motives and methods to match.

Second only to my love for the infectious use of humour in this murder mystery, my favourite element of this book was the laid-back, comforting tone of the novel, complimented by the calming, idealistic lives of these retired, merry individuals. Already longing for retirement while only in my early twenties, it was pleasing to at least be able to live that serenity vicariously through this book (since I have a feeling it will be a while before I enjoy that bliss…).

A lovely theme that shone through The Thursday Murder Club is the reminder that the elderly have led full, brilliant lives, often overlooked by their frail, seemingly dull exteriors, while modern life chases ahead, slowing for no one. Everyone at the retirement village – Cooper’s Chase – has a history: some valiant and admirable – like soldiers, doctors and nurses. Some interesting – like detectives and psychiatrists. Others completely unknown, secrets hidden behind the convenient mask of age. As The Thursday Murder Club find themselves at the centre of a present day murder – far from those in their cold case files – the hunt for the killer is on, and the hidden past of residents are in danger of being raked up to the surface once and for all.

The Characters…

Told across multiple means and viewpoints, I thoroughly enjoyed the variety across chapters, which kept it exciting and engaging. I particularly looked forward to the chapters written in a diary-style from the perspective of Joyce, who was a delightful character from start to finish. With a cheerful, sunny disposition, a happy-go-lucky way of being up for anything and open to everything, Joyce served as a loyal side-kick to Elizabeth – the unofficial leader of The Thursday Murder Club.

Pivotal to the story with all her contacts and knowledge, there wouldn’t have been much of an investigation, nor any story at all, without dear Elizabeth, who I found mildly irritating towards the beginning, but who later became my favourite character. The allegiance across these friend at Cooper’s Chase was heart-warmingly pleasant, but Elizabeth more than anyone was fiercely loyal, always caring for and protecting those she loved, including her best friend, Penny, and her husband, Stephen, each of whom were accompanied by touching, emotional side-stories that I won’t get into here for spoiler’s sake. Incredibly intelligent and determined, Elizabeth was a force to be reckoned with: indeed, even Detective Inspector Chris Hudson was a little intimidated by her!

Would I recommend?

As I’m sure you can already gather, I would definitely recommend this book! In fact, I’ve already left it with my Dad to read – I might add it’s sat alongside the last two books I’ve lent him to read… Still unread…

A funny, light-hearted getaway to a retirement village and an intricate murder mystery tale with a lot more to it than meets the eye, this book was the perfect escape, somehow both relaxing and enthralling. While I’m not quite sure how Osman is going to turn this solid stand-alone novel into a series – I will definitely be reading The Thursday Murder Club 2 when it is released! It has big shoes to fill though…

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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