Published by: Penguin
ISBN 13: 9780241425442
Published: October 2020
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author’s Twitter
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
In the book community we often talk about trying to find books that do something a bit different – sometimes it seems that in order to save the world you have to be between 15-25 years old, usually male, and an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time. What about literally everyone else in the world?
And what about people who have a very specific set of skills who are now retired so have all the time in the day to go over cold cases? Especially when a murder happens right on their doorstep and concerns their home, the 7th best retirement village in England, Coopers Case.
We have four members of the Thursday Murder Club, Elizabeth (who is very much the leader and has a seemingly complex past that has left her with a lifetime of important connections and owed favours), Joyce (who was a nurse and who now keeps a journal, which is an excellent way of delivering certain facts for the reader or revealing scenes that happened that aren’t shown in the book itself, without it seeming forced), Ron (who is never afraid of standing up for what needs to be protected and demonstrated for, and still loves a chance to get on his soapbox for a bit) and Ibrahim (a retired psychiatrist and the one with the mathematical mind). Being in a retirement village they are often visited by various spokespeople from society, and one day get a visit from the police to listen to a home safety presentation about not opening front doors to strangers or falling for various scams, and it’s through this that they meet PC Donna De Freitas, a police woman who is far better than most of the small police centre she’s moved herself out to after a bad breakup and a split second decision. She wants to be out there catching serial killers and taking on the big cases, not working in such a sleepy little back county… and this just so happens to line up with exactly what the Thursday Murder Club want, too.
It’s so refreshing to have a set of very intelligent older people who are often overlooked and know how to play to this advantage. There’s a tv show called New Tricks which is quite similar, but honestly this book is so much better – the characters are more likeable, the dialogue is a lot more fun, and the general observations about life and such are really quite entertaining.
It also has its sad moments. Some of the main characters have already lost their life partners whilst some are worried about their curernt partners, and they’re all a bit worried for their neighbours daily as they slip further away. Another main character is a woman who doesn’t say a word yet is still integral to their group. She’s in palliative care now, and is someone Elizabeth visits often, another way that we get information about the case without it seeming forced. This woman, Penny, seems like she was a member of the Thursday Murder Club until soon before the novel starts, and there seems to be some guilt of Joyce taking her place, which gives a nice lived-in feeling to this club and the retirement village itself.
As far as murder mysteries go, this one is quite complex with more and more information getting uncovered through various means and their initial suspicions changing as this comes to light or they get a feel for the various suspects (and more people keep dying). It’s not obvious who did it at all, and there are surprises right until the end of the book – and not in a way that seems ridiculous.
The author, Richard Osman, is quite well known in England and anywhere else that airs the TV quiz show Pointless. We have so much more to thank him for though, as before he was a debut author or a tv presenter he worked in the behind the scenes of TV on shows like Out of 10 Cats and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, all the way back to Total Wipeout, Whose Line is it Anyway, and Deal or No Deal (he knows who the Banker is!)
Somehow, it also seems that he can write. I can’t wait for the second book in this series and see what the Thursday Murder Club get up to next.