Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Book Review: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (Thursday Murder Club #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, twists to the mystery
Cons: A few, but overall enjoyable
The Bottom Line:
Older characters
Try to solve a fresh murder
Mostly good debut

Enjoyable but Flawed Debut

I started hearing the buzz about The Thursday Murder Club a few months ago.  It sounded right up my alley, so I decided to get a copy and see what I thought.  While I can see why others are enjoying it so much, I did find some flaws that bothered me.

Welcome to Coopers Chase Retirement Village.  It’s a community for active seniors in England.  There are all kinds of activities happening on a regular basis, but the most unusual, and smallest, is a group of four friends who meet every Thursday to discuss cold criminal cases.  While they may not take their findings to the police, they enjoy looking at the stories and seeing if they can figure out what really happened.

Then one day, the murder of a developer takes place near the community.  Naturally, these four friends jump at the chance to figure out what is really going on.  Will they be able to solve the case?

See what I mean?  This set up is similar to many cozies I read, so I settled back to enjoy.  After all, I’d heard about how funny it is and how great a mystery there is.

Before I start picking it apart, I do have to say that I enjoyed it overall.  For one thing, the mystery is strong, with plenty of twists I didn’t see coming.  I was engaged the entire time trying to figure out what was really going on.

Meanwhile, the characters are charming.  Ron, Ibrahim, Joyce, and Elizabeth are a diverse group, but they mesh well and form a great core group to solve the mystery.  I completely enjoyed getting to know them.  They are older than the sleuths in the cozies I typically read, but that was part of their charm.

At times, I struggled with the humor of the book.  Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely moments that made me smile if not laugh.  However, other times I felt like the book was more clever than funny, and it was proud of how clever it was, which took the joy out of it for me.  As we approached the climax, the story definitely got more serious, which was appropriate.

The closer we get to the climax, the faster the twists come.  On the one hand, I enjoyed that since it kept me guessing.  On the other, I felt like I was being jerked around a time or two.  This does break a few tropes of the mystery genre, for better or worse.  By the time the book is over, everything has been explained, so you don’t have to worry about any dropped plot points.

I’m struggling a bit with how justice was served at the end of the book as well.  Which is all I will say to avoid spoilers.

The characters get away with quite a bit of sticking their nose in police business.  While the police do get on them at times, I still found the police too willing to work with them at others.  But this is something I tend to turn a blind eye to in other books I read, so I will note this one mainly in passing.

The book is partially told in diary entries from Joyce, but mostly told in present tense from various character’s points of view.  We always follow which character is our main character in each scene, and I settled into the storytelling pretty easily.

Every so often, I come across a book that has easy to spot flaws, but I enjoyed it anyway.  This is one of those times.  It isn’t perfect, but I did enjoy it and definitely plan to read the sequel.

If you are curious about The Thursday Murder Club, I recommend you check it out.  While I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as most people seem to, I still found it fun.

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