The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

August 21, 2020

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved killings.

But when a local property developer shows up dead, ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

 The four friends, 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? 

There is a wonderfully eccentric little sub-set of the crime genre that – in a phrase I’ve coined myself – can best be described as British Comfortable. You know the sort of thing – Lovejoy, Hamish MacBeth, Hetty Wainthrop, and Father Brown. The list goes on and on. In British Comfortable, murders happen, but usually only to people who are entirely deserving of a gruesome fate. The latest entry into this cosy group is The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman*.

The author has a keen eye when it comes to exposing all those little quirks that come together to create a truly memorable character; or, in this case, four memorable characters. The main quartet of The Thursday Murder Club are an absolute joy.

Elizabeth may or may not have done something terribly hush-hush for the government back in the day that she’s not allowed to talk about. Put it this way, she knows “people”. A natural leader, Elizabeth can steamroller anyone around to her way of thinking, and always be absolutely charming about it.

Joyce is the most unassuming member of the group. Boundlessly enthusiastic, but with a keen intellect she’s a dark horse and no mistake. Joyce is also quite the cake baker, always a handy skill when you need to grease the wheels with the local constabulary.

Ibrahim is very precise. He is driven by rules, regulations and detail. Obsessive to the point of compulsion, Ibrahim is happiest when he has reams of data to trawl through in order track down the missing piece of a puzzle.

Finally, there is Ron. Once upon a time, Ron was a political firebrand, a trade union leader and always ready to take on a fight. Age may have slowed him down somewhat, but he still relishes the opportunity to argue with anyone, at any time, about any subject.

Needless to say, our plucky band of senior sleuths manage to be one step ahead of the authorities at every turn. Fortunately, at least a couple of the police in the nearby village are appreciative of the club’s geriatric assistance.

Osman injects the narrative with some delightfully wry humour. There are a handful of throwaway lines that are perfectly pitched. Joyce manages to steal the odd scene or two with her observations which pleased me immensely.

There are also some unexpectedly beautiful bittersweet scenes. Death, especially at a swanky retirement village, is a fact of life and it is always present in the background. There are poignant moments that caught me totally off guard. Osman is a sneaky old so and so, plucking at our heartstrings like a master musician. I’ve always thought that conveying genuine emotion is the trickiest of skills for an author to master, but here it looks effortless. Relationships between long term friends and spouses, in the autumn of their years, are captured in minute details that convey a thousand words. I’ll be honest, I did not expect this novel to be such an emotive experience, but it is all the better for it. I had to keep reminding myself that this is a debut novel. There is such a confident air to the plot and its execution.

You’ll not be surprised when I tell you I have already started putting together my dream cast, on the off chance this novel makes the leap to the screen *fingers crossed*. Elizabeth can’t be anyone other than Helen Mirren. I’d happily believe she has “a certain set of skills” honed over years working clandestinely in the shadows. Julie Walters would have to be Joyce, because of course she is. Art Malik would make a splendidly dapper Ibrahim, and I’m thinking Robbie Coltrane for Ron. There you go, television executive-types, I’ve already done half the work for you. I’d be obliged if you get on with making this happen as soon as possible. None of us are getting any younger, you know.

Crime, conspiracy and a good-sized helping of cake – this novel ticks all the boxes as far as I am concerned. The only question I have left to answer is, will I go for the lemon drizzle or a nice slice of the coffee and walnut? Decisions, decisions.

You’ve probably picked up on the fact I had a lot of fun with The Thursday Murder Club. If you fancy a bit of octogenarian Agatha Raisin-esque crime fiction, then look no further. I do hope this is the first of many Richard Osman novels. It was a thoroughly entertaining experience that I enjoyed from beginning to end. I can heartily recommend picking the book up and preparing yourself for some murder most comfortable.

The Thursday Murder Club is published by Viking and is available from 3rd September. Highly recommended.

My suggested musical accompaniment to The Thursday Murder Club is the soundtrack to another classic British detective series, Vera by Ben Bartlett. Unconventional investigators have to stick together after all.

* Yes, that Richard Osman, the one from the telly. Look, it’s not really relevant that he is the co-host of Pointless. For the basis of this review, it’s the book that is important.


  • rusell1200 September 21, 2021 at 12:21 pm

    I bought this one for my wife. She absolutely loved it. Enough so that she started reading another book I had bought for awhile back – LOL.

    Now her mother is reading. And then her sister will probably get it next. I may see it eventually 🙂

    • pablocheesecake September 30, 2021 at 8:32 pm

      The Thursday Murder Club novels are great fun. I can’t wait for book three 🙂

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