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The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman

The Thursday Murder Club is the first novel produced by British Television quiz show designer, quiz show host, and panel show regular, Richard Osman. I am a big Osman fan. If he is on a show, I’m tuning in.

The Thursday Murder Club
Cover shot. Paperback edition of The Thursday Murder Club.

I first encountered his work on the show Pointless, which he co-hosts with Alexander Armstrong. Then he has hosted and guested on my favourite panel show, Have I Got News For YouMore recently he has hosted the celebrity quiz show, Richard Osman’s House of GamesWhen I heard he had written a novel, I knew I wanted to read it.

Getting to Know The Thursday Murder Club

The Thursday Murder Club is a group of four friends who live at the Coopers Chase luxury, retirement village. The club consists of Elizabeth, Ron, Ibrahim, and the newest addition, Joyce. Joyce has replaced Penny, a retired police inspector.

They gather every Thursday to discuss various unsolved murders. This is all just a speculative exercise. A way to keep themselves busy and their brains active as they deal with the realities of getting older.

There is turmoil at Coopers Chase. Plans are in place to dig up the old graveyard located at the top of the Chase property. When one of the developers ends up dead, The Thursday Murder Club moves from speculation to detection.

As this investigation unfolds, we learn more about our club members. Elizabeth was some sort of spy. Ibrahim, a therapist. Ron, a union organizer, and Joyce? Well she seems the odd one out. However, she’s a great listener, a diarist, and most important of all, a great baker.

They have all sorts of ideas about the case, but there is much information that only the police possess. To get around this, they befriend Donna De Freitas, as young police constable who has left behind the Met and a failed romance to start all over in Fairhaven.

Having met De Freitas when she came to do a community policing event at Coopers Chase, they offer her their assistance. In reality, she will be the one assisting them. Along the way, they manage to wrangle De Freitas’s boss, DCI Chris Hudson onto their team.

One developer dies at the beginning of the story, but another one soon follows suit. Are they connected? There are a pile of suspect. Are they all viable, or just being used to confuse the investigation. What of the photo found alongside the first victim?

The graveyard at the top of Coopers Chase, holds a lot of secrets. Few things or people, are as they seem. Whether it’s Father Mackie, the priest, or Peter Ward, a local cafe owner. Disturbing the graveyard will disturb a lot of secrets.

Each secret that is revealed, leads to more questions. Will The Thursday Murder Club unravel all the tangled stories in time to catch a killer?

Thoughts on the Book

I really enjoyed The Thursday Murder Club. Not only is it very funny, but the case offers a lot of twists and turns. Yes, the extent to which the club circumvents the law is a little overdone at times. However, in a cozy mystery, I’m not expecting by the book procedure to be a major feature.

The characters are all well drawn, especially the main four. I enjoy the fact that they still know how to use the skills they developed in their younger days.

Joyce is definitely my favourite character. I mentioned her baking earlier. I am a big fan of detective fiction that puts food in a central place. Her use of food to help bring people around to listen to what the club has to say is a key part of the story.

I also like the way in which the story moves between the action events, and Joyce’s diary entries. These little breaks help to carry the plot along quite nicely.

One thing I found a little challenging with The Thursday Murder Club, is keeping up with all ancillary characters. Dorothy Sayers dealt with Five Red Herrings, but it seems there are a dozen or more in this story.

One thing I really like about the book, is that it does convey quite well the reality of getting older. My own mom is 92, and it does seem at time that life as you age becomes little more than a series of losses.

One constantly loses bits of oneself, and then there are the losses of people around you. Osman does a real good job of catching the poignancy of this, amid all the humour of The Thursday Murder Club. 

Osman has already published a second book in this series: The Man Who Died TwiceI plan to pick that one up, real soon. If you are thinking of picking up The Thursday Murder Club, I recommend that you simply pick up both.

By Donald McKenzie

Anglican priest, and food blogger. This blog is focused on Food. It will feature reviews of places to eat books, and the odd recipe. I also write about what it means to gather together around food.