The Thursday Murder Club
- Richard Osman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I don’t recall how this book came onto my radar, but I do remember being intrigued by it when I checked it out. I can’t be sure whether it indeed drew inspiration from Agatha Christie (though I suppose all books of the genre must do) but to me, it was highly reminiscent of Miss Marple mysteries – starting from the title, through the setting in a close-knit community, to the elderly residents playing sleuths.
In a luxury retirement village, new arrival Joyce is welcomed into their fold by a group of septuagenarians, who love murder mysteries and meet every Thursday to discuss old unsolved murders and find their possible solutions. Inevitably, they find themselves involved in brand new murders and enthusiastically take it upon themselves to solve them.
The story alternates between the first-person narrative of Joyce (in the form of her diary entries) and a third-person narrative. Joyce’s voice is quite rambling, reflecting her chatty personality that is a little lacking in confidence. Both the styles took some time to get used to. There are some red herrings thrown in, that begin as a promising lead but end with a perfectly benign explanation. For once, not only did I not mind all this meandering in a murder mystery, I even enjoyed the tangential stories to some extent. I liked getting to know the backstories of the characters; the unfruitful trails were done well, and in a way, reflect a real investigation where there may be several false leads before hitting the correct path.
However, my reading experience was marred by an utterly unsatisfying conclusion, that made me feel that the effort of going through the 400 pages was not worth it. Further, in what is the biggest killer (no pun intended!) for a mystery, the false leads are carefully investigated by the group, but in the end, they just “know” the identity of the real murderer.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
I did not find a reasonable explanation for the wait between the causal events and Tony’s murder, and no rational reason for Ian’s. On top of it, the group’s attitude towards the two murderers was conflicting and unjustified. They propose to turn in their elderly friend John, whose wife is in an assisted living facility, to the police and it is implied that he is to take his own life. On the other hand, there is no retribution for Bogdan, who has committed more than one murder – even though only Joyce is confirmed to be aware of his role, it is indicated that Elizabeth will soon discover it.
Overall, it is a quirky, cozy murder mystery that could have been much more entertaining with a better denouement.