British television producer, personality, and comic can add literary humorist to his resume. His debut novel The Thursday Murder Club is a polite, heartfelt version of a crime story involving a retirement home and a handful of murders. At times laugh-out-loud funny, it’s a cracking good yarn with memorable characters.
Coopers Chase is an active retirement community. Residents have their own homes and apartments then gather to eat meals and engage in various planned activities. The Jigsaw Room (so called because that’s where the jigsaw puzzles in process are laid out) is also booked on Thursdays. A small group of retirees gather one afternoon a week to go over cold cases. Elizabeth, the ringleader, has a murky past that likely involves the Official Secrets Act, brings files to Ron the activist, Joyce the nurse, and Ibrahim the therapist together to pour over notes and make recommendations.
By and large, it’s a mental exercise but then a contractor with connections to the retirement complex is murdered and the club appoints themselves as the main investigators. They quickly charm the head policewoman assigned to the case and their sleuthing skills become invaluable as the case unfolds.
But this morning there are different priorities; he understands that. This morning the Thursday Murder Club has a real-life case. Not just yellowing pages from smudged type from another age, but a real case, a real corpse, and somewhere out there, a real killer. ~Pg. 43
There’s already talk of sequel books and a Spielberg adaptation, and for good reason – Osman makes it look easy. Other than some late chapter moments where the plot feels a little bit contrived, the pieces seem to fall into place. The characters are rich and the reader comes to care for them. It’s very funny and original, and has some true moments of wholesomeness. It manages to escape sentimentality and instead allow for true tenderness to shine through.
Richard Osman certainly doesn’t need my help selling his book, but all the same, I offer my full-throated support. This is one of those times when the right work is being promoted for the right reasons – because it’s actually really that good.
My thanks to Kristina at Pamela Dorman/Viking Books for the review copy.
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books (September 22, 2020)
Product Dimensions: 6.24 x 1.22 x 9.27 inches
Read an excerpt