THE PLOT: ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ by Richard Osman is a cosy mystery about four old-age pensioners who try to catch a murderer. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron live in an expensive, peaceful retirement village and each Thursday they meet up to investigate unsolved murders. But when a real murder takes place on their doorstep, they attempt to solve the real-life case unfolding in front of them.
RATING: I was a little bit sceptical going into this highly lauded book because I was concerned that it might be a celebrity cash-grab, designed to rest on the laurels of its famous author. However, I was pleasantly surprised and I believe it has earned many of its accolades. It’s thoroughly enjoyable book, with loveable characters and plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader hooked. Alternating between third-person narration and excerpts of Joyce’s diary, I liked the unusual format but felt there were a few literary skills that could be sharpened (which is to be expected of a debut novel). Notwithstanding, it was a great read overall and, as the elderly detectives are often underestimated, I loved the underlying theme about our ageing society.
GOOD BITS: Quizmaster Richard Osman deftly turns his skills in solving puzzles to the intricate plotting of this murder-mystery. Like most crime novels, this book is first and foremost about the plot and I feel like the drip-fed mystery and unusual structure were successful. But what takes this book over the edge is the detailed characterisation, which brings these familiar British stereotypes to life with witty cultural observations that place the characters firmly within the modern British class system. In particular, Joyce is a brilliant character and her diary is so compelling as she embodies the outsider-insider-storyteller role. And to give props to the author for his characterisation once again, I have to shout out this line from Joyce’s diary which is a wonderful summation of the character and which made me sob: ‘…for the ladies who went to Jersey Boys and drank G&Ts out of cans all the way home’.
NOT SO GOOD BITS: Unpopular opinion but I think Richard Osman could sharpen his dialogue. Although there were a lot of funny one-liners, the dialogue often felt stilted and I found myself editing it in my mind. I found the dialogue tags irritating, perhaps because they felt repetitive and passive instead of active (which seems weird in a present-tense novel). In fact, I think my irritation with the dialogue made the chapters from the POV of Joyce’s diary feel even more accomplished.
OVERALL: I’d recommend this book to lovers of Agatha Christie, Midsommer Murders or ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ by Emma Healey. I’ve been told I have a penchant for depressing books, so here’s a light-hearted, addictive read that I feel most people would enjoy (hence why it’s a best seller). Is it breaking any boundaries? Is the pinnacle of creative language and literary technique? Well, ‘no’ on both counts. But it’s fun and quick and easy – a great one to curl up with this winter.