But murder? Now there’s something you can really dig into.
The members of the Thursday Murder Club are all residents of Coopers Chase, a luxury retirement village where the delivery vans clink with “wine and repeat prescriptions every time they cross the cattle grid.” All of its more than 300 residents are older than 65.
The club meets in the Jigsaw Room in a two-hour time slot still listed on the official schedule as “Japanese Opera: A Discussion.”
Originally, the group poured through old cases that Penny Grey, a retired detective inspector, brought in. Encroaching Alzheimer’s has taken her from the group. But as this book opens, the Thursday Murder Club is faced with not one but two actual murders.
The first is that of Tony Curran, a 25 percent owner of Coopers Chase and the deputy of developer Ian Ventham. The second is Ventham himself, in broad daylight with dozens of witnesses as he directs the much protested relocation of the Garden of Eternal Rest cemetery. It was once part of the convent that stood where Coopers Chase now does.
What makes this book such a joy to read is the cast of characters. Each club member is a contributor, from Elizabeth. who never says what she used to do but still has a valid tank driving license and is an experienced interrogator. Then there’s Ron Ritchie, a born skeptic and retired labor organizer who has been a thorn in the side of British corporations for decades. Former nurse Joyce Meadowcroft is a fount of information about death and its prevention. Retired psychiatrist Ibrahim Arif has great patience and keen insights into human nature. They all have a an acute sense of justice, whether applied to friend or foe.
This is no cozy mystery where the police are dunderheads and the amateurs are running rings around them. DCI Chris Hudson, a 51-year-old divorcé, is overworked and understaffed. Constable Donna De Freitas transferred in from the Metropolitan Police in London. It was a rash leap inspired by a romance gone sour. She ordinarily wouldn’t have been involved in a murder investigation, but thanks to the manipulations of the Thursday Murder Club, she has a ring-side seat.
Together, the police and the Thursday Murder Club make a mutually beneficial, if uneasy, team.
The murders are challenging and inventively solved. The characters are fun. If you are a person of “a certain age,” they are inspiring. Author Richard Osman is respectful of their experience and wisdom.
This is one of my favorite reads of the year. I can hardly wait for the movie version planned by director Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment — and the sequel, expected to be released this fall.
About the Author: Richard Osman (1970 – )
Author Richard Osman is best known as a British television presenter, producer and comedian.
He created and is a co-presenter of the BBC One television quiz show “Pointless,” and also presents the BBC Two quiz shows “Two Tribes” and “Richard Osman’s House of Games.”
He grew up about 40 miles south of London. His mother is a teacher and his father walked out on the family when Osman was nine.
He was born with nystagmus, an eye condition that significantly reduces his vision. As a result, it made him a keen listener.
From 1989 to 1992, he studied politics and sociology at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was a contemporary of “Pointless” co-presenter Alexander Armstrong, who was studying English there.
THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB is his first novel. The idea came to him while visiting his mother at a retirement village. He started writing that night.
Osman sold the movie rights for the book to Amblin Entertainment and has been “in talks” for a British TV adaptation of the novel.