Title: The Thursday Murder Club
Author: Richard Osman
Published by: Viking – Penguin
Publication date: 3rd Sept 2020
Source: Private Collection
In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.
But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.
Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.
I’ve been meaning to read this book since the vague idea of ‘The Twitter Book Club,’ picked it as their first read. I read the first half of the book back then and thoroughly enjoyed it. I then waited for the book club to catch up and left it at that… however many months later I started re-reading it again and finished it off.
The Thursday Murder Club is the debut model by Richard Osman about a group of elderly women that get together, look over old police files and try to find out if they were solved correctly or not. Then, the builder connected to their retirement complex is murdered, giving them all something new to gossip and talk about.
The Thursday Murder Club tell the story through various lead characters, but mostly through the eyes and diary entries of Joyce, a retired nurse. She is approached early on in the novel by another fellow retiree, Elizabeth; thrusting the reader directly into the drama by asking about stab wounds and bleed-out rates. Joyce is then swept up into the life of the Murder Club and set-off on investigating the murder and other mysteries around their home. As a lead character, Joyce is endearing and pleasant. There’s nothing to dislike about her quirky narration and as the book plods along I found that she grew on me rather a lot; she isn’t the most interesting character out of the selection, but she is the most regular out of them. Unassuming and a joy to read about; her life and addition to the Murder Club are enjoyable to read about, if a little plain compared to some of her companions.
It’s all a rather, pleasant affair and a sedate reading experience – the plot rolls along nicely and takes us on a grand exploration of the retirement-home and the grounds surrounding it. The developments that are undergoing around the home. Thus providing a wonderful backdrop for the plethora of other elements to the book.
The plot is in-depth and complex. Multi-layered, keeping the story interested, despite the ease with which the story is conveyed. There is a lot of content within the novel; murder, mystery, duplicity and a sprinkling of humour that goes along with the care-free attitude of the main cast of characters – Ladies and Gentlemen of a certain age that aren’t afraid to break the rules that bind other, younger, members of moral society.
The main members of The Thursday murder Club, Joyce, Elizabeth, Ibrahim and Ron, all speak with their own clear voices and personalities; they are the wild-cats of the retirement home that break convention. They’re a lot of fun and the story that revolves around them is brightened by their individualities. Working alongside them in solving the murder is DC Donna De Freitas and her boss, Chris Hudson. Like the Thursday Murder Club members, these two are fine characters who lend their own input and voice to the rest of the novel.
However, there is the vast sum of seventy-five characters in this book, most of them having some part to play in the plot in one way or another. Several times I found myself getting rather lost in the game of ‘Whose Who’ and ‘What’s what,’ even if some of these characters are relatively minor. I also found that there was little making some of them stand apart from one another and the list of ‘Frightfully English Names’ did little to set any of them apart; ending up in a confusing meld of characters. Many of the characters trying to add their own element of narration to the story didn’t help matters, either. It ended up just being a bit too confused at times and thus, whenever a reveal did happen it felt convoluted and an anticlimax. Mostly importantly, due to a lack of deep connection to the individual characters, there didn’t feel enough of a relationship to care about them. Or what happened to them and their relationship with other characters. I didn’t feel like there was enough investment in the murdered character to really care about why he had been killed in the first place, it made the story feel somewhat redundant.
On top of this, I did struggle with one of the characters; Elizabeth. She was, unfortunately, just one of those characters that had an answer for everything and the plot bended easily to her will. It was due to her mysterious connections, that she was able to arrange for DC De Freitas to become involved in the investigation; so that she could exploit her for details later. I found her a little bit difficult to contend with as she came across as always having the answer.
The Thursday Murder Club addresses some pretty difficult concepts of life too, mortality for one. One of the elderly side-characters kills himself just because he has discovered it is ‘his time.’ That, along with other elements in the plot felt a little bit ‘out of no where’ and don’t really feel like they have an overall purpose to the grander scheme of things. This book is a bit of an oddity like that!
An odd book that doesn’t quite hit the mark. Far, far too many characters that have an element of narration. Far too many characters that are introduced and do absolutely nothing to advance the plot or sub plots, but seem to be there ‘just because’ and because of the plethora of characters you don’t actually care enough about the ones that you’re meant to or the fact that the retirement home and it’s connections seem to be suffering from a crime wave.