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Crime Files – The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman #BookReview

And now something new! On the second and fourth Sundays of each month we’ll be bringing you crime! Murders, robberies and more, in books, movies and games. If you like it, be sure to let us know. – Olly

Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves
A female cop with her first big case
A brutal murder
Welcome to…

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman book cover

Title: The Thursday Murder Club | Author: Richard Osman | Publisher: Viking | Pub. Date: 3 September 2020 | Pages: 377 | ISBN: 9780241425442 | Genre: Mystery | Language: English | Starred Review: No | Source: Publisher

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The Thursday Murder Club Review

‘The Thursday Murder Club’ is almost exactly what I imagined it would be like. Written for by Richard Osman, who is best known for being inoffensively witty and clever on the BBC game show ‘Pointless’, it is inoffensive, witty, clever and pointless. A lot of it is very good, it’s sweet without being saccharine and often very funny. I chuckled enough reading it that my wife kept asking me what I was reading. Unfortunately, as a crime novel it’s far less successful.

The setting is good and well used. The book takes place in an up-market retirement village, Coopers Chase, in rural Kent, and focuses on four of the residents. Joyce (formerly a nurse), Ron (notorious trade unionist), Ibrahim (psychiatrist) and Elizabeth (spy), collectively form the Thursday Murder Club of the title. Meeting weekly, they pore over cold cases from the files of ex-police officer Penny, a former member of the club. When someone they know is killed, they naturally start investigating. Aided in time by two local cops, Donna (a young constable) and Chris (a middle aged detective), they gradually work through a series of interwoven mysteries.

What’s great about the book is how funny it is. The writing sparkles with wit, a mix of clever word play, amusing observations, and brilliantly handled character studies. All of the people in it believable and well written, and the way Osman plays them off against each other is often a delight, It’s no surprise that the film rights were sold quickly (to Steven Spielberg, no less) and I had fun casting the movie in my head as I read the book.

As noted at the start though, as a mystery novel it’s a bit of a damp squib. Despite the body count (which grows over time), it’s far too cosy and nice to ever be gripping. That possibly wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t feel so by the numbers. The majority of the characters have secrets which cause them to do shifty things which just happen to coincide in some way with the crimes and make them suspects. There are so many red herrings that it all starts to whiff a bit after a while. It’s like Osman is following a “how to write a whodunnit” guide he found on Buzzfeed.

Fortunately, the stuff that’s good about the book is enough to keep it entertaining and readable. The characters are lovely, it’s consistently amusing and its meditations on ageing, whilst not that original, at least ring true. Readers who aren’t as much of a crime buff as I am will probably be more forgiving than me.

You can purchase a copy of this book via your normal retailer, but please consider purchasing it from a local indie bookshop instead. It can be found here at Indiebound or at Bookshop. Please note the Bookshop link is an affiliate link and each purchase you make through it helps to support Sci-Fi & Scary and keep the site running.

Published inBook ReviewsCrime FilesUnstarred Reviews

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