The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman review – Cosy Crime Caper
So now we know what Pointless creator Richard Osman has been up to behind that laptop: drawing on his passion for classic English crime fiction for his own attempt at the genre. When word got out it sparked a 10-way publishing auction, and the novel has become the fastest selling adult crime debut since records began.
That’s quite an achievement for what turns out to be an amiable if undemanding cosy caper. What marks it out is the originality of the setting, inspired by a visit Osman paid to an affluent retirement village boasting a full range of recreational and medical facilities including a “contemporary upscale restaurant”.
In the novel this becomes Cooper’s Chase, an exclusive development secreted on the Kentish weald: “You can’t move here until you’re over sixty-five and the Waitrose delivery vans clink with wine and repeat prescriptions every time they pass over the cattle grid”. Every Thursday the amateur sleuths of Cooper’s Chase gather in the jigsaw room, “between Art History and Conversational French”, to investigate unsolved murder cases that the Kent police force have been too incompetent to prosecute themselves.
Cooper’s Chase sits on the site of a former convent: now the developer, a brash vulgarian who owns a red grand piano, is exploiting a contractual loophole to turn the chapel and graveyard into eight new flats. Clearly he is not long for this world, and when somebody slips him a lethal injection in a scuffle, the Thursday Murder Club have a real life homicide on their hands.Osman’s plotting is both deft and daft in equal measure; and the key members of the over-60s murder squad are distinctly drawn. Elizabeth, the prime mover, was “the sort of teacher who terrifies you all year then gets you a grade A and cries when you leave”. Her sidekicks include militant “Red” Ron Ritchie, who has a West Ham tattoo on his neck and vociferous opinions to match; and former nurse Joyce, the quiet one in a lavender blouse and mauve cardigan, who goes unnoticed but notices everything. Only the fastidious Egyptian psychiatrist Ibrahim feels like a bit of a cipher, included to introduce a hint of diversity. And of course there are loose ends left dangling; the Thursday Murder Club is set to run and run.
If you click on the book title, it will take you to the Amazon page so that you can order it.
FLAMINGO BOOK CLUB - 2023
THE MYSTERIOUS LIFE OF HUGETTE CLARK AND THE
SPENDING OF A GREAT AMERICAN FORTUNE
by Bill Dedman & Paul Clark Newell
THE MUSIC SHOP: A NOVEL by Rachel Joyce
OUR MISSING HEARTS by Celeste Ng
THE MEASURE; A NOVEL by Nikki Erlick
ORDINARY GRACE by William Kent Kureger
MIDNIGHT IN BROAD DAYLIGHT;
A JAPANESE AMERICAN FAMILY CAUGHT BETWEEN
FOOD - Bring a dish to share
HORSE; A NOVEL by Geraldine Brooks
LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus
THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB; A NOVEL
by Richard Osman
CHRISTMAS PARTY - Bring a wrapped book for gifting