The Book’s Basics
Title: The Thursday Murder Club
Author: Richard Osman
Series: Yes. There is at least one other book, but it has not been released yet.
Genre: Fiction, Crime, Murder Mystery
Length: 381 pages
Initial Reaction: Difficult topics were handled well and it was a good read. And funny!
The Thursday Murder Club is comprised of a group of four elderly residents of Coopers Chase, a retirement village. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron meet every Thursday to try to solve cold cases. When a murder takes place in their community, they take up the chase (pun intended!).
They are very clever and capable, even if they need a walking stick or some synthetic insulin. The group of four teams up with the police, sometimes, to try to figure out the complicated mystery. There is a lot of death in this book, more than I expected, even with it being a murder mystery, and those deaths usually spur more questions. They discover many secrets about their community and their retirement village before it had been converted from a convent.
Who would I recommend this book to?
Firstly, before I get to the review properly, there is an important content warning to mention. While it does have a lot of death, it also has a fair amount of suicide, both historic and within the present of the book.
I haven’t read much murder mystery, so this book was very different for me, but I did enjoy it.
I would recommend this book to people who like mystery and who don’t mind being misled sometimes. I think that’s likely common in murder mysteries, but I was convinced of one character’s guilt throughout most of the book, and I was eventually proven very wrong. It was really interesting to see how everything fit together by the end of the book.
I read this book as a palate cleanser from fantasy books, just to read something completely different. I would recommend this book to people who are looking to do the same, especially as the characters are wonderful and they feel very alive, even though death is ever looming.
The characters that Osman brings to life in this book are wonderful. They’re clever and work really well together. They also stand out from one another and feel like real people. The peripheral characters are also great and well thought out. They don’t feel like filler characters, which was really nice. And, because all of the characters are so dynamic, as the reader you never really know what secrets are going to be revealed about them.
While there are the trappings of a retirement home, there is some separation: there are no medical aides, nurses, or doctors working at the home in the book, the main characters have their own apartments and can cook and make their own tea, and they are mostly independent. There are characters who are dependent, but they are primarily cared for by other residents in the book. There is another building on the premises that is more like a hospital, and that looms as an eventuality for some of the characters. It feels like their apartments are in a liminal space; they are between full independence in their own homes and complete dependence and inevitable death in the other facility. This helps to give the characters a sense of agency and urgency. It keeps the medical mostly to the periphery, even though they all had a very prescient sense of their own mortality.
All of the characters command a strong sense of dignity, even though they come from different backgrounds. It was really nice to read a story with elderly people as strong, active protagonists, as a lot of books focus on younger people or on the memories of an older person when they were younger, not at their present age.
This book has a lot of humour in it, which helps to lighten the mood, and definitely helped my enjoyment of it. One of my favourite parts was early on was when there was a talk happening at the retirement home and an argument broke out amongst the residents:
“There had been the briefest of lulls. An atonal symphony of whistles began as some hearing aids were turned up, while others were switched off.”Osman, Richard. The Thursday Murder Club (p. 9). Hardcover.
A cute thing I found from the publisher is a reading club guide that has character profiles, an interview with the author, and even a recipe from one of the characters!