I’ve read a great many books, watched numerous films and television series, as well as documentaries, that pertain to true crime. There have been a number of times, where people were featured, especially in the television shows and documentaries, who can be labeled as arm chair investigators. They are ordinary citizens, who inject themselves, especially into cold cases, that have gone unsolved for decades. While the majority of the time, the work that those, who are not officially involved with law enforcement, put into searching for clues, doesn’t amount to solving the case, their efforts do often yield benefits. If nothing else, the amateur sleuths help to eliminate suspects, follow up leads that prove to be dead ends, and explore theories, that also prove to be false, that law enforcement doesn’t always have the time, money, and people to dedicate to investigating a particular case.
The entertaining, quick paced, “The Thursday Murder Club” written by Richard Osman, begins in the fictitious retirement village, Coopers Chase, located in Kent, in the English countryside. One day, Joyce Meadowcroft, a new resident to the community, is invited by Elizabeth to a get together on Thursday. Elizabeth has not approached Joyce for the mere prospect of making a new friend. She has a question for her that deals with a knife wound. Joyce, a former nurse, will be able to provide information that will help to further an investigation that Elizabeth’s club has undertaken.
Elizabeth is a well connected individual, whose former occupation is concealed in mystery; everything that is known about her, however, points to the fact that she has lived a colorful life. She is the figurehead of a group, which calls themselves, The Thursday Murder Club. The club investigates cold cases, and tries to do what law enforcement couldn’t do, solve the case. The other members of the group include Ibrahim Arif, a renowned psychiatrist, and Ron Ritchie, a former union rabble rouser, who is also the father of a famous boxer. Elizabeth’s friend Penny was a member of the group, but has taken ill, and is in a coma. Penny’s profession was that of a member of law enforcement, and it is her cold cases that the Thursday Murder Club investigates.
Bringing the club’s current cold case investigation to a halt is the murder of Tony Curran, a contractor. He has been found bludgeoned to death in his home, a photograph has been left next to his body. Curran was fired, the same day that he was murdered, which coincided, with the beginning of a new portion of Coopers Chase being built. The suspicion for the murder immediately falls upon the duplicitous, Ian Ventham, who stands to gain a tremendous profit from the new project.
The club is all too eager to assist Detective Chief Inspector, Chris Hudson, a good hearted, middle aged man, who is seemingly unhappy about his weight and unsavory diet, and the intelligent, young, up-and-comer, Police Constable, Donna De Freitas, with the investigation, in any way that they can. In truth, however, Elizabeth especially, would like the club to be the ones who reveal who murdered Curran. The investigation escalates to one of complexity, and the body count doesn’t begin and end with Curran. How far will a group of witty, senior citizens, be able to take their investigation? What dangers does their undertaking pose to individual members of The Thursday Murder Club, as well as the group as a whole?
The crime novel, “The Thursday Murder Club” is Osman’s debut. The book was published by Viking Press on September 3, 2020. Prior to becoming a published author, Osman was a television presenter, producer, and comedian. He is known, amongst other things, for being the creator and co-presenter on the BBC One television quiz show “Pointless.” “The Man Who Died Twice,” the sequel to “The Thursday Murder Club” was published by Viking Press on September 16, 2021.
I found the novel to be an enjoyable read with an interesting premise. The work alternates between third person narration, and Joyce’s diary entries. When I was reading Joyce’s entries, it felt as if she was speaking directly to the reader, and the character was enhanced, in my opinion, because of the style utilized by Osman. The author provided excellent insight into a diverse group of fully developed characters, each of whom had their own back story, which helped the reader easily distinguish one from another of their literary counterparts. There were some well executed twists and turns, that should keep most readers guessing, before the multiple reveals at the end.