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.
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!