In The Thursday Murder Club a group of retirees gather weekly to solve puzzles and mysteries – courtesy of a friend who has retired from the police force and who has a pile of unsolved cold cases to amuse and intrigue them. The story is told from more than one viewpoint and the reader is given the choice to read between the lines of some accounts, or to consider the reliability of the narrator. The Club soon evolves from being armchair detectives to the real thing when a murder occurs near their sleepy little community – which may expose secrets of both the past and the present.
The gang, which is composed of Elizabeth (who may or may not have been a top spy), the well-connected psychiatrist Ibrahim, retired nurse and mother Joyce and Ron, a former trade union boss whose son may have a connection to the murder victim. The four are all more than willing to look for clues, and soon find themselves (especially Elizabeth) regularly interacting with the local constabulary, in the persons of PC Donna De Freitas and DCI Chris Hudson. These two officers grudgingly accept help from the septuagenarians, while simultaneously trying to fend off their participation in the case. It is obvious to the reader how much the fuzz could use their help.
The murder mystery and its solution is probably the least interesting facet of the book. What author Osman does is sketch some truly fun main characters – and then fills in with even more subsidiary characters which just add to the quirky, English cosy mystery atmosphere. I would like a little more detail about the retirement home where the Club lives. It seems pretty posh and not like a typical nursing home. I really enjoyed reading about Elizabeth and Joyce, who are the de facto main characters, but I would like to get know Ibrahim and the local coppers better. Hopefully these characters will be expanded on in the subsequent novels. And yes, I’ve already got #2 queued up in my to-read pile. I’ve also heard that Steven Spielberg has optioned the book. Not sure I’m so thrilled with that idea. I’d be fine seeing these characters in a movie or preferably, in a TV series, but I’d prefer it if the production team was British. Kenneth Branagh, why not you?