Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller and chair of the British Book Awards judges, said: “From Shuggie Bain to The Thursday Murder Club, from All the Lonely People to The Danger Gang, from Hamnet to Black and British, these were the books that answered the call during this period of turmoil, debate and hope.”
Four sprightly geriatric sleuths at a bucolic retirement village meet every Thursday to pore over old cold cases. But when a local builder is bludgeoned to death, they are soon on the hunt for his killer in this delightful novel.
Osman’s plotting is both deft and daft in equal measure; and the key members of the over-60s murder squad are distinctly drawn. Elizabeth, the prime mover, was “the sort of teacher who terrifies you all year then gets you a grade A and cries when you leave”. Her sidekicks include militant “Red” Ron Ritchie, who has a West Ham tattoo on his neck and vociferous opinions to match; and former nurse Joyce, the quiet one in a lavender blouse and mauve cardigan, who goes unnoticed but notices everything. Only the fastidious Egyptian psychiatrist Ibrahim feels like a bit of a cipher, included to introduce a hint of diversity. And of course there are loose ends left dangling; the Thursday Murder Club is set to run and run.
The reaction to broadcaster Richard Osman receiving a seven-figure book deal after penning a crime novel in secret has been, to say the least, mixed. But those who responded dismissively will be given pause by The Thursday Murder Club (Viking, £14.99), which turns out to be a rather beguiling piece of work, reading like Kingsley Amis’s The Old Devils refracted through an Agatha Christie prism.
Four friends find themselves in the middle of a live case. Christie-style sleuthing with brilliant skill.
What an absolutely delightful read this was; so fun and charming. I adored the four characters, who all live at Coopers Chase retirement village and set about trying to solve a local murder. My boyfriend read it, too, and said it was like putting on a favourite jumper everytime he opened the book!
As might be expected of the punster from the TV quiz Pointless, Richard Osman’s first novel is full of jokes: heard the one about the vegan restaurant, Anything with a Pulse? However, the way he evokes the passing of time — shows each character “catching the last glimpses of the sun and seeing them for what they were” — adds greater depth, and emotional power, to what is essentially a contemporary Ealing comedy. As the bodies pile up, and more is revealed of the lives and loves of Joyce, Ibrahim, Ron and Elizabeth, you can’t help cheering them on — and hoping to meet them again soon.