It’s always going to be big new when a famous person turns their hand to writing a novel. There is always the question of how good it is going to be. Plus, you have to wonder if they’ve been handed a publishing deal that should have gone to someone else. I mean, Katie Price has published loads of books but did she deserve it? Yes, she gave a ghostwriter a job but those books are just empty of quality. Or at least the ones I’ve read. The publishing industry is unfair and it’s already incredibly difficult for new writers to get their start. So, the new that Richard Osman got a 7 figure deal, £1.1 million, does raise questions. Was his book going to be worth reading or was it just an obvious cash grab? It’s from how well it’s done, that the money won’t be an issue but what about the content? I had to find out.
Let’s be honest, crime fiction is not only a highly saturated genre but it’s also very difficult to write a good crime novel. Readers have probably seen it all before and are too savvy. Writing a great twist is so much harder now because we just don’t trust anything. A childhood of Agatha Christie has meant that I don’t trust any crime writer and, unfortunately, I see the twist long before it happens. Very few of the crime novels that I’ve read lately have impressed me. When it came to this novel, I did guess who the killer was quite early on but, thanks to Richard Osman’s story, I changed my mind at several points along the way. So, he’s clearly doing something right.
The Thursday Murder Club is an example of a very British cosy crime novel. I know that many would see that as a negative but it isn’t. It’s not a novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat but it will keep you reading. That’s thanks to the dialogue and the characters. There is something so natural and real about this story even though it requires you to suspend your disbelief a little. I love an amateur sleuth but, let’s be honest, in the real world the police wouldn’t be so accommodating. However, that wouldn’t make for a great narrative, so I’ll go with it.
Especially because the amateur sleuths in this novel are all fabulous. Set in a luxury retirement village, aa group of four friends meet every week to solve crimes. Elizabeth, Ron, Ibrahim, and newest member Joyce are overjoyed when a real-life murder takes place on their very doorstep. Using their various contacts, the group turn their hobby into something more serious. When more bodies and more mysteries are uncovered, just what will they discover about their home and the people around them? At the same time, how will the police who are investigating the murder deal with the competition?
There is nothing that I love more than older people solving crimes. I love Miss Marple and those great shows from the 80s/90s. The setting is perfect and it introduces us to some fabulous characters. Elizabeth, Rob, Ibrahim and Joyce all have a long history and have an understanding of the world. They see things that the police might miss and they have a way of getting people to do things for them. Osman has created a memorable cast of characters that you will enjoy spending time with. Especially Joyce who we get to know a bit better thanks to the chapters told via her diary entries. She’s a sweet and charming narrator, which is a fantastic counterpoint to the mysterious Elizabeth. I hope we learn more about her past in future novels because she’s an intriguing character.
My only quibble is that Osman does rely on a lot of the tactics that many crime writers overuse these days. The chapters are short and there are multiple points of view. This means minor cliffhangers and secrets are not always created organically but are merely put off for a few chapters. It’s something that I find irritating but it didn’t exactly diminish my enjoyment of this novel. I kind of thing that the novel was a little long. The murder mystery is quite basic but it is dragged out for a long time and certain things are repeated a few times. I get that it’s supposed to be funny that the police are a step behind the retirees but we don’t need to recap everything.
This is a charming and cute read that I don’t regret reading. Was it 7 figure worthy? I’m not sure. I’ve been in two minds about this for a while. It kind of disappointed me but I also didn’t think it was a wasted read. The ending isn’t exactly astounding and partly feels like a cop-out. So, it has its flaws. However, I don’t know how much of those are down to the fact that it’s a debut. This is a book that is trying to do a lot and it’s possibly too much. There’s a lot going on and it could have been a bit neater. I feel like this book would be a much better television show instead of a book. Something that might make sense due to Osman’s background.