The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

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The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Cosy crime at its best and a brilliant read. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: September 2020
Publisher: Viking
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0241425442

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The first member of The Thursday Murder Club we encounter is Joyce Meadowcroft. She used to be a nurse and is thus the perfect person for Elizabeth to consult about how long it would take a person who has been stabbed to bleed out. Details of where and how are exchanged and Joyce confirms that it would have taken about forty-five minutes and that the victim could have been saved if she'd received prompt medical help. It didn't put Joyce off her shepherd's pie (which tells us that it was a Monday) but it does get her interested in The Thursday Murder Club. They meet each Thursday (as you might have guessed) in the Jigsaw Room at Coopers Chase Retirement Village.

Elizabeth lives in one of the three-bed flats in Larkin Court with Stephen, her third husband. She prefers not to be too specific about what her job used to be, but you get a sniff of derring-do and the Official Secrets Act. She's the leading light in the Club now that Penny (formerly a detective inspector) is in a coma in the Willows nursing home. Ibrahim Arif is the oldest and used to be a psychiatrist: he's certainly got all his marbles at home (he lives in Wordsworth, by the way) and is a considerable fount of knowledge. The fourth member of the club, now that Joyce has joined, is Ron Ritchie, former trade union leader and father of celebrity boxer, Jason Ritchie. His great skill is bluster and being senile to order.

The club used to look at cold cases to see if anything had been missed. Penny had all the files, but please don't say anything about that as she really shouldn't have them after she left the police. Then there's a murder on their doorstep: Tony Curran, who was delighted with his home (a house built on hard work, on making the right choices, cutting the right corners and backing his own talent) and where he is in life has just been sacked by Ian Ventham, the part-owner of Coopers Chase. He's then bludgeoned to death in his kitchen. And that won't be the last death.

Richard Osman catches old age mercilessly, but with humour. A computer expert was going to come and talk to the residents about tablets, but the message had to be recirculated as most of the residents couldn't understand what computers had to do with their tablets. You'll laugh - and then you'll be on the verge of tears as a widower rests alone on a bench where he and his wife used to sit. All the residents are conscious that they either have lost someone dear to them or could do with little warning, but there's still an extraordinary zest for life that was good to see.

OK - it's cosy crime, but it's cosy crime at its wonderful best. The police would never get involved with a group of pensioners as they do in The Thursday Murder Club (well - I hope they wouldn't!) but get over it. You're reading this for pleasure and PC Donna de Freitas and DCI Chris Hudson are great value for money as they puff (in Chris's case, quite literally) along in Elizabeth's wake. It's a fun read but with one of the best cosy-crime plots I've read. I finished the book all too quickly and was nowhere near guessing who was the villain. I normally try to avoid reading books by television presenters (they're often over-hyped and underwritten) but I had an advantage here: I've never seen Pointless so I didn't swerve away and - thank heavens. This is a book I really wouldn't like to have missed. I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy.

For more cosy crime with humour, we can recommend The Herring In The Library by L C Tyler. For a rather more melancholic look at old age, try A Rock and a High Place by Dan Mooney. For another story of old people getting together to help each other, try And Then Came Paulette by Barbara Constantine.

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