Author: Richard Osman
Publication: Viking, hardcover, 2020
Setting: Present-day EnglandDescription: Four senior citizens at Coopers Chase, an upscale retirement community in England, meet on Thursdays to discuss unsolved police cases, and then they encounter a real murder . . . Elizabeth is the brilliant leader of the group, with a mysterious past in espionage. Ron is a gadfly, Ibrahim was a psychiatrist, and Joyce, a former nurse, is a new recruit to replace Elizabeth’s friend Penny, now suffering from dementia. Soon after PC Donna De Freitas comes to give a talk on Practical Tips for Home Security at Coopers Chase, its real estate developer is murdered and the crime group is delighted to take on a real murder. Elizabeth strategizes to get their new friend Donna assigned to the case, hoping for an inside source on the investigation. Who can solve the case first – the police or The Thursday Murder Club?
Donna De Freitas looks around at the Murder Squad. There are a few new faces. She simply cannot believe her luck. Two murders and she is right in the middle of it. She has to hand it to Elizabeth. She definitely owes her a drink, or whatever else Elizabeth would prefer. A scarf? Who knew what Elizabeth would like? A gun, probably.My Impression: I heard about this book way back in November from Cath at Read-Warbler and was intrigued to learn about the author, a popular game show host on British TV who clearly loves the classics of the Golden Age of Mystery as we do. The book is so popular in the US, despite few here ever having heard of Osman, that my reserve copy did not show up until February. I thought it was fun and funny, as the four friends try to outpace the police despite being at times perplexed by some of the popular culture that confronts them. Elizabeth is a wonderful character, calculating but kind, and she reminded me a little of my grandmother who would have enjoyed her assisted living so much more if she’d had an interest and friends like those here. Some of the narrative is told in the first person by Joyce, whose rambling sounds a little too much like my internal thought process! However, Joyce, in her 70s, is shrewd enough to know how to deal with Elizabeth, figuring out that the best way to find out what brilliance Elizabeth is planning is to coax it out of her by not asking questions. I really liked the police team investigating the murder, Donna and her boss, DCI Chris Hudson, and how – somewhat against their will – they are flattered and coaxed into allowing the Club into their investigation:
Chris had his own chair and his own side table, and he now feels like the King of the World. He sometimes forgets the impact a police officer can have on members of the public. The gang in front of him are looking at him with something approaching awe. It’s nice to be taken seriously once in a while, and he is happily giving them the benefit of his wisdom.I only had three quibbles: one was that the ending was somewhat confusing and I thought it improbable that so many people with murderous thoughts were in roughly the same place and two, at times the four friends were portrayed as a little more clueless about modern culture than seemed realistic at the ages they are depicted. For example, Elizabeth knows how to text but only just learned what LOL stands for and never heard of a Fitbit? Coopers Chase is expensive (Joyce points out she is only there because her hedge fund daughter purchased her unit) so some of the residents are probably just as health-conscious as their American counterparts. Finally, as I have mentioned before, I wish people wouldn’t write in the present tense.
I am pleased to hear this will become a series. This is my second book in the Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge.Source: Library