Book – The Thursday Murder Club
Author – Richard Osman
Year – 2020
Pages – 382
Genre – Crime
Alex has a phrase that she inherited from her nan Dora to describe a certain type of crime book – “a nice little murder”. It’s a great way of describing a book like this. We don’t have the horror scenes of gore that you can sometimes find in a novel, and equally don’t have the psychological turmoil of a book like The Good Daughter. Instead, a death occurs and someone has to solve the situation. Probably with a cup of tea.
Cue Richard Osman – he of Pointless fame. The Thursday Murder Club is his first novel, and in a situation that is all too common, it seemed to be the only book that anyone was talking about when it was released during lockdown, becoming an instant bestseller and the rights being bought by Stephen Spielberg’s production company.
The premise is as twee as it comes. We follow a group of pensioners in an upmarket retirement village in Kent. They gather on a Thursday night to pore over old case files from unsolved murders and to try and glean what interesting clues may have been missed to unravel the mystery. When a real life murder takes place within the confines of their own little village, they suddenly have a true and current case to preside over.
The characters are a lovely little bunch – Joyce is a retired nurse, Ibrahim a former psychiatrist, Ron a ‘salt of the earth’ trade union leader, and the very interesting Elizabeth has worked to some level in the intelligence community – and I found it endlessly charming seeing them be incredibly clever when it comes to investigating the murder, but also failing miserably to be able to operate a computer properly. You are not going to be getting endless car chases or heart-stopping moments of tension in a book like this, but that is fine. It’s like having a warm mug of Horlicks as you sip away at the unraveling story.
Which of course is the actual heartbeat of a crime novel. If you don’t have an interesting story with just the right number of twists and turns, then you don’t have a book. With a celebrity writer, that is always the worry, but of course Richard Osman is not just an ordinary celebrity, but one renowned for being pretty bright. As such, it does exactly what it needs to. It’s not going to be a turn for the ages, but ties everything up wonderfully for a ‘nice little murder’.
As a final aside, it is really nice to read a book set relatively local to where you live. Little references to the local area give a thrill every time, and a mention of Battle Abbey where Alex and I will be getting married next year was a particular treat.