Funny, full of interesting characters and an intriguing murder mystery - what more could you want?
As we enter a second lockdown, a lot of us are wondering what we’re going to do now that everything is closing back down again. For me, this is where reading comes in: there is nothing like the escapism offered by a good book, and what we really need is something funny, utterly charming and full of plot twists.
The Thursday Murder Club is, in my opinion, a great example of this. Richard Osman has been at the helm of many a great tea-time TV program, including Pointless, House of Games and Deal or No Deal, so it’s perhaps no wonder that his foray into novel writing has been such a success. This book – described humbly on the sleeve of the hardback edition as being his ‘first and, so far, best novel’ – is now the fastest-selling adult crime debut ever. It tells the story of a group of friends at a retirement village who meet weekly to solve cold case crimes. When a murderer strikes in their local town, they naturally get together to try and solve it themselves.
My favourite aspect of this novel is the level of sensitivity with which it is written. It’s an extremely funny book, full of the sarcastic tone we’re used to seeing on Osman’s TV shows to the extent that it’s hard not to hear certain comments in his voice. However, it doesn’t mock the elderly people at the centre of the plot. Each of them has an incredibly interesting background, and none of their activities is belittled; he moves effortlessly between the humorous and heartbreaking, addressing real issues faced by elderly people in a nuanced way (despite the far-fetched plot line). It took me a little while to get into this novel, and I thought I had solved the murder pretty quickly, but the number of twists and turns as the team find out new information means that you’re really kept on your toes as a reader.
The characters Osman has created are fantastic; Elizabeth is utterly fascinating and the brief hints at her past create an air of admiration and mystery around her; Ibrahim is an incredibly intelligent man, but with it comes an emotional sensitivity that makes his friendships with the other characters very interesting, particularly Ron whose hard-as-nails exterior is not quite what it seems. Joyce, whose diary entries are interspersed within the narrative, is a joy to read; at times she seems innocent, but the excitement with which she throws herself into every opportunity she’s given shows just how much the preoccupation of their crime-solving club means to one another. The other characters are wonderfully crafted and form such a tangled web that makes it difficult to put the book down.
The second novel has already been confirmed, and although I’m not entirely sure how it’s going to work – how many murders can really take place in the vicinity of Cooper’s Chase retirement village? – I’m so excited to revisit these characters. This novel has been an absolute tonic to the bleak outlook of the world around us, and I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to get absorbed into a whodunnit mystery without all the gory detail.
The Thursday Murder Club is published by Viking Press and is available to buy in all good bookshops. Find out more about the book here: