The Thursday Murder Club has been on my radar off and on for a while; finally, another Cannonballer’s review of a sequel reminded me and coincided with a random bookstore coupon (in-store only), so I went shopping. This is probably what Only Murders in the Building must be like in book form; I don’t have the streaming service required, but I’m not too sad about that anymore.
Basically, the premise is a group of residents of a retirement home in rural-ish England get together to solve crimes, and their pasts have given them the tools to probably be good at it. Joyce is the more ‘normal’ social, agreeable one who sometimes narrates via her diary, and she’s a retired nurse (medical knowledge); Elizabeth is a retired spy; Ibrahim was a psychiatrist; Ron is/was the fighter. It starts off with the group addressing cold cases, but then naturally, there’s a real murder, followed by a second. The gang investigates with the help of PC Donna De Freitas, who suddenly transferred to the local police force from London for some reason, and her supervisor Chris Hudson. There’s also the mysterious Father Mackie, Ron’s son Jason, and the owner/developer of the community Ian Ventham and his thuggish partner Tony Curran. The first murder has the added mystery of the photo left behind at the scene.
Overall, this is a standard cozy mystery in some ways as the retirees investigate, get into trouble, but generally have a good bit of successful progress. Every one of them has some personal history that gives maybe some insight into their personalities and skills, but there’s definitely more info about some than others. Ron and Ibrahim are the least developed, while Elizabeth gets the most attention, and Joyce kind of in between.
Besides the retiree mystery solving club shenanigans, there’s some actually interesting bits as the mysteries develop and interweave, but the connections revealed sometimes really just seem to be made for convenience; there’s also a surprising amount of suicide involved in the eventual wrap up of most of the mysteries, although the interesting thing is that not everyone really knows who the final killer really was in one or two key instances.
Generally, this is an entertaining murder mystery, even if the characters are a little uneven and the plot(s) sometimes gets a little too deux ex machina.