Richard Osman’s debut novel is everything I love about the cozy mystery genre. Picture senior citizens solving murders set against the backdrop of an exclusive retirement village. The seniors of Cooper’s Chase, led by the indomitable ex-spy Elizabeth, make a hobby of investigating unsolved crimes—until a real murder case pops up in their own backyard.
“Killing someone is easy. Hiding the body, now, that’s usually the hard part. That’s how you get caught.”
The characters are lively and engaging, the cast including quiet nurse Joyce who notices everything, brash and impulsive Ron, and analytical retired psychiatrist Ibrahim. Joyce’s journal entries interspersed throughout the narrative are the highlight of the book. Osman’s writing is a masterclass in giving each character an individual and distinct voice; I would suggest reading it just to hone your craft even if amateur sleuths are not your thing.
“After a certain age, you can pretty much do whatever takes your fancy. No one tells you off, except for your doctors and your children.”
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Hudson, a lonely, middle-aged, overweight divorcé who is ostensibly in charge of the investigation, is a delight. The scenes that get inside his head are so delightfully honest and relatable.
“Chris finds himself jammed uncomfortably on a sofa . . . It is clearly a two-and-a-half-seater sofa, and when Chris had been shown to it, his assumption was that he would be sharing it with only one other person.”
“Chris cannot even attempt to sip his tea now, as lifting it to his lips would unbalance the cake, and lifting the cup off the saucer would tip the cake into the saucer’s center and make it impossible to put the cup back down. He feels sweat start to trickle down his back, reminding him of the time he interviewed a twenty-five-stone Hells Angels enforcer with I KILL COPPERS tattooed around his neck.”
Osman has a knack for putting the reader in the setting with witty, insightful, and relatable commentary. He switches viewpoints, following one character after another, in a skillful way that gives the reader a rounded view of the goings-on.
“For over a hundred years the convent was a hushed building, filled with the dry bustle of habits and the quiet certainty of prayers offered and answered. Tapping along its corridors you would have found some women comfortable in their serenity, some women frightened of a speeding world, some women hiding, some women proving a vague, long-forgotten point, and some women taking joy in serving a higher purpose.”
The story is light-hearted, but the plot is intelligent enough to fulfill all your mystery expectations. Clever, modern, and charming, it ticks all the boxes, but from the novel perspective of an older and wiser cast. I found I wanted the mystery to be solved, but I didn’t want the book to end. The Thursday Murder Club was a fast and engaging read, well worth the time.
“The daffodils will always come up by the lake, but you won’t always be there to see them. So it goes; enjoy them while you can.”