The Thursday Murder Club

Posted: January 12, 2022 in Book reviews

By Richard Osman

(Read in 2021 I’m just really slow at updating my blog!)

The luxurious retirement village of Cooper’s Chase might seem like a place where old people go to be forgotten and to wind down before they die, but this certainly isn’t the case for the Thursday Murder Club, a foursome of pensioners who meet to discuss old murder cases (they have to meet on Thursdays because it’s the only day they can get the room). There’s Elizabeth (a former intelligence agent) Ron (an ex-trade unionist and all-around rabble rouser) Ibrahim (a psychiatrist) and newbie Joyce (a former nurse).

When people connected with Cooper’s Chase start being murdered it’s up to the Thursday Murder Club to find out whodunnit.

It’s probably fair to say from the off that the cosy is not a subgenre of crime novels that I’m that familiar with, or usually drawn to (as you’ll know if you’ve been following the kind of things I read, I lean more towards the hardboiled detective fiction) but Osman is a likeable presence on TV and this book has had phenomenal reviews. So, is it very good?

Well yes and no, and obviously my own prejudices may have counted against me enjoying it as much as others might. In simple terms I think Osman’s characterisation is top notch, his prose about average and his plotting…well that’s where it kinda falls down, in fact at times he seems so enamoured of his fearless foursome that he lets them meander around on various side quests, and the central mystery be damned.  

The premise is a doozy though, pensioners written off as old duffers prove they’re much more switched on than people think, and it’s nice to see characters in their twilight years still being shown to be useful, still being shown to be fully functional human beings rather than old dogs who can’t be taught new tricks of people with dementia. As an elevator pitch it’s great.

The four central characters are mostly well realised, as are several supporting characters, though others are pretty flimsy. You’ll have to suspend your disbelief a lot here, especially with regard to the latitude the police will give the Thursday Murder Club members, and the pensioners do manipulate the coppers quite easily. All four main characters have skills that prove useful at various points, even if in Ron’s case that just seems to come down to getting under people’s skin and organising a good protest. Elizabeth proves the most useful, her contacts from her former life give her access to information even the police don’t have. Useful.

There are plenty of red herrings, and most are fairly obvious (though fair dos to Osman there’s a moment later on where, for a moment, I thought he was about to completely pull the rug out from under me.) The murder resolutions are a little unsatisfying, but again this might just be me, certainly the huge success of the book, with a film or TV series on the way, suggests most people like it.

A lightweight, amusing and altogether cosy read, but there’s enough to enjoy that I’ll probably read the sequel at some point.  

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