Richard Osman, already well-known as a television producer and presenter, has created, in his debut crime novel, a cast of characters reminiscent of classic crime fiction, where the setting, a luxury retirement village called Coopers Chase, adds charm and atmosphere; and which also plays a key part in the plot.
The reading pace feels leisurely, an interesting effect given the fact that there are many short chapters, and the tone assured. The author addresses us at some points as the omniscient narrator; at others we have different characters’ points of view, including the first-person diary entries of Joyce, the retired nurse. Initially, she sees herself an outsider compared to the wealthy and successful retirees at Coopers Chase; she’s only living there because her daughter has paid for the apartment. This feeling doesn’t last long though as Joyce is soon taken into one of the more esoteric of the many clubs that thrive on the complex - the Thursday Murder Club, which entertains its members by investigating unsolved crimes.
But in this luxury retirement village, there are dark secrets. Two murders occur and past crimes comes to light as the twists and turns of the plot unfold. But the members of the Thursday Murder Club are a talented bunch and they bring skills from their previous lives to their work when they unexpectedly find themselves involved in two new, rather than historic, murder cases. They work effectively and ingeniously as a parallel team to the official police investigation headed by CDI Chris Hudson and his assistant PC Donna De Freitas.
The style of the novel is on point, razor sharp in many of its satiric observations, as in: ‘you can’t live here until you’re over 65, and the Waitrose delivery vans clink with wine and repeat prescriptions every time they pass over the cattle grid.’
The story ends in an uplifting way, underscoring the positive values of humanity, love and the somewhat Robin Hood moral code that underpins story. It is also left open for a follow up novel or series, with the two main characters, Elizabeth and Joyce, good foils for each other, established and ready to investigate new crimes.
The Thursday Murder Club, a debut novel by well-known television producer and presenter, Richard Osman is published by Viking.