The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
Like lots of people locked down, semi-locked down, whatever the rules are, we have been doing a weekly quiz with our in laws. This has consisted of the Radio Times Egghead quiz and Richard Osman's alphabet quiz which I signed up for on twitter. Richard Osman started the quiz at the start of lockdown and each week has been a different letter of the alphabet, starting with A. For those of you who perhaps do not live in the UK, Richard Osman is a TV presenter and comes across as a genuinely lovely guy and smart as a whip to boot. The Thursday Murder Club is his first novel and I was looking forward to reading it.
Every Thursday, a group of 4 friends, living in a retirement village, meet up to discuss unsolved murder cases. All nearing 80, each brings a particular set of skills (sounding a bit like the film 'Taken' here for some reason!); Joyce, a former nurse, empathic and slightly man mad, Ibrahim - the details man, Ron - former Union leader, firebrand and The Muscle and Elizabeth, who really does have a particular set of skills, with contacts all over the world, able to obtain any information the team needs. But then, the obnoxious owner of the retirement village and his business partner are found murdered and suddenly the team have a 'live' case to work on.
Spoiler Alert - I loved it! It's huge fun. The cast are great and are supported by some interesting figures ; the 2 police officers are happy to be along for the ride, learning quickly that the Thursday Murder Club are usually 7 steps ahead. Jason, Ron's son is a rough diamond. Ian Ventham is deliciously nasty. There is a mysterious Priest and Bogdan, a criminal with a heart.
But it is the plot that shines, Richard Osman has created an ingenious plot - multiple deaths, multiple confessions, red herrings aplenty and sweet nuggets about the Thursday Murder Club and the plethora of activities available to them. I tried to guess the murderer and failed but I didn't mind. I was enjoying the ride too much.
The 4 main protagonists are great. My favourite has to be Elizabeth, who is a formidable force to be reckoned with. I wanted to learn more about her previous career. and Richard Osman gives us some delicious titbits to her past.
Richard Osman also touches on growing old and he does this sensitively. The residents of the retirement village are great, live very full lives and remind us all not to be dismiss their knowledge and experience, never to patronise. The subject of dementia is touched on sensitively and poignantly.
The novel is huge fun though, the protest to save the Cemetery descends into farce and is laugh out loud funny. It is a brilliant debut, good fun, great characters and a plot with more twists than a twizzle stick. I'm looking forward already to reading the next instalment.
Even more exciting, is that Stephen Spielberg has optioned the film and it is in production. My vote would be for Helen Mirren to play Elizabeth!