The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman – Review
By Sandra Callard
Most avid readers love a good murder mystery every now and then, and this debut book by television personality, Richard Osman, fits the bill perfectly. The Thursday Murder Club is a surprisingly funny, but deeply clever, book concerning a murder amongst the genteel and elderly residents of a pretty retirement village somewhere in southern England.
“The Thursday Murder Club” meets up every week to discuss unsolved crime, both current or in the past, and are thrilled to find that they have a real murder on their own doorstep. The four mainstays of the club, who are all approaching the age of eighty, are relieved to find that the victim is not a very admirable personality in the village, but they nevertheless begin to put their knowledge of murder to the test and vow to expose the culprit. Their journey in so doing is a remarkable and very entertaining read, with large slices of fun and a surprising amount of genuine compassion and appreciation of the abilities of these elderly detectives.
The characters are beautifully drawn and the leader of the Murder Club pack, Elizabeth, and her three compatriots, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron, are an absolute joy to behold as they discover clues and point the local police in the right direction. The story not only reveals a tight and well constructed plot, but it also brings to the fore the fact that age marches side by side with youth in that they both have their own thoughts, intelligence and capacity, just as they both need understanding and acceptance.
Detective stories remain huge sellers, and these shores can claim one of the greatest volume of authors in this genre, most of whom are – happily for crime fiction fans like me – prolific and successful. However, I do feel that The Thursday Murder Club is the first novel that I have read which so happily and successfully merges the detective theme with a very interesting and arresting shaft of comedy, which has not only laugh-out-loud sections, but also has gentle and sly remarks that could pass you by if you are not truly alert.
The story fools the reader continually as the clues increase and the identity of the murderer gets nearer, and then, maddeningly, it dissolves, before other clues are highlighted and the hunt is on again. It is a cat and mouse chase that does get there in the end, but we almost feel sorry that it does, because the chase is over and so is the book.
This is a brilliant debut for Richard Osman and also a very unusual one of its genre. The story grips the imagination, not only in trying to discover whodunnit, but to the refreshing and unique characters themselves. This is the first in what is already a three-part series – and quite rightly so. These characters deserve plenty more outings.
‘The Thursday Murder Club’ by Richard Osman is published by Viking, £14.99 hardback