Book Review: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Grace gave me this book, The Thursday Murder Club, for Christmas. I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed it. It made me laugh out loud and we could all do with a good laugh right now.

This is Richard Osman’s debut novel and it has already shot to the top of the Sunday Times Bestseller list. It was also the Christmas no. 1 beating Barack Obama’s memoir, A Promised Land.

Description

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. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?

The premise of a bunch of old people solving a crime may sound like cosy crime, but I’m relieved to say it is emphatically not.  The clue is in the author, Richard Osman (from Pointless) – he hits just the right tone – pithy, funny and kind.

Why I loved it

Annabel reading The Thursday Murder Club

I loved every single page and often the prose made me burst into laughter. The author has shared the endearing side of elderly people. Yet he also shows how hard it is to grow old and be ignored or forgotten. In a year, when those in care homes have been foremost in our minds, it is a touching and timely tribute to them.

There were a number of very touching moments. The story includes some of the issues which are inevitable in a retirement village – the mix of different characters, the need for company and the strong desire to keep going.

My favourite aspect of this novel is the level of sensitivity with which it is written. It’s an extremely funny book however, it doesn’t mock the elderly people at the centre of the plot. Each of the characters in this book has an incredibly interesting background. The author does not belittle the nursing home residents’ activities. He moves effortlessly between the humorous and heartbreaking, He addresses real issues faced by elderly people in a nuanced way (despite the far-fetched plot line).

The Characters:

The characters Osman has created are fantastic and credible.

Elizabeth is utterly fascinating and the brief hints at her colourful past create an air of admiration and mystery around her. She is the leader of the gang. She appears very strong. However you then see another side of her through her relationship with her husband, Stephen. He sadly suffers from dementia. I admired the loyalty Elizabeth has for her best friend, Penny. Penny had recently retired from the Thursday Murder Club due to illness.

Ibrahim is an incredibly intelligent man, but with it comes a heart-warming sensitivity. This makes his friendships with the other characters very interesting, particularly Ron. Ron has a stony exterior which is not quite what it seems.

Joyce, whose diary entries are interspersed within the narrative, is a joy to read. At times Joyce seems innocent, but the excitement with which she throws herself into every opportunity she’s given shows just how much the preoccupation of their crime-solving club means to one another.

The author does not short-change us with the other characters in this book. Osman has created and crafted each person in this book. They form such a tangled web that makes it difficult to put the book down.

To conclude:

I have spent much time visiting relatives in nursing homes. When my mother died I felt sad that I would not continue seeing the other residents of her nursing home. I learned and admired so much from each of them. I am sure Richard Osman has had similar experiences in order to write this book.

There is nothing like the escapism during lockdown which can be offered by a good book. What we really need is something funny, utterly charming and full of plot twists and this book ticks all those boxes. I therefore, have no hesitation in highly recommending The Thursday Murder Club.

P.S. Richard Osman has confirmed that there will be a second novel. So, for those of you who may, like me, miss Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim we can look forward to rejoining them soon.

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