- Published in 2020 by Viking Press
- Format: Audiobook
- Narrator: Lesley Manville
- Listening Speed: 1.3x
- Listening Time: 7 rib-tickling days
- Diving into another New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge book. This is for the ‘Learn a new skill’ challenge which is reading something outside my comfort zone. For me, that would be crime fiction. Since I still wanted some familiarity, I opted for a less orthodox crime novel written by a TV personality I really like. Our investigators in this book are definitely not the usual sort. They’re all pushing eighty and living in Cooper’s Chase, a peaceful retirement village where the Thursday Murder Club love nothing more than poring over cold murder cases and using their collective brains to figure out ‘whodunit’. Then, a local property developer turns up dead in his home. Of course, the Thursday Murder Club leap at the chance to solve a real live murder case but can they solve it before the police and before it’s too late?
- Excellent characterisation that’s the novel’s strongest point. Every character has just that little bit of larger-than-life that makes them believable. Even the villain feels very real in just how scummy he is about everything (right down to his taste in self help books with titles that’ll make you puke) without it feeling like the author is forcing you to hate him. All the characters have their own stories and their weaknesses. I must admit, I lost track of one of those stories and thought one character had confessed to something when they hadn’t but, other than that, they were very well crafted together. Even the characters who have done bad things are still characters you can feel for.
- Lovely quartet of main characters. I saw them as two pairs of opposites that perfectly compliment each other: there’s the adventurous Elizabeth who has lived the most exciting life possible (though the book never mentions exactly what she did for a living) and the mild-mannered Joyce who is only just started doing exciting things when she came to Cooper’s Chase along with the duo of the methodical Ibrahim who always has an alphabetised list of data for everything and the firebrand Ron who solves all his problems by shouting. The duos shouldn’t work so well together, let alone work so well as a team of four, but they definitely do. They all have compelling backstories, motivations and quirks. It’s so hard to pick a favourite so I won’t bother. You’ll look forward to their every scene to see what they’re going to do next.
- I loved the way Osman used the unreliable narrator trope to throw us completely off at the beginning. The expectation flips were expertly timed too. A crucial skill in the mystery writer’s arsenal is misdirection and Osman manages that with aplomb. He skilfully manages to hide all the essential clues and leaves the audience guessing right up to the moment when all is revealed. He’s also very good at letting you underestimate certain characters.
- Got to be British and fairly familiar with modern British pop culture to get most of the references in this one. You’d definitely need to be familiar with most of the regular high street shops or you’ll be completely lost.
- Humour is absolutely spot on. Highlights have got to be the most polite protest barricade ever and the very creative ways the gang use their age to their advantage.
- This is definitely what you would call cosy crime. The characters are never too far away from their next cup of tea and there’s never a sense of imminent peril. It’s just the exploits of four very interesting characters picking up clues in the most unlikely places. That means it becomes a bit slow and unfocussed at times but I can never say it’s boring. There’s always a good side story going on in the background to keep you entertained.
- Fair to say that, even though there are lots of laughs, the book doesn’t shy away from the more painful or awkward sides of life. There are lots of sad stories, especially near the end when the loose ends are all being tied up. There’s also a lot of frank talk about the shadows of death and dementia haunting the main characters. They might be confident and capable but they know full well that all that could fall apart tomorrow. I’m glad to say it’s all dealt with sensitively and without being sentimental.
- Undeniably good world building. The world is well-crafted to seem peaceful and idyllic on the outside but, just underneath that veneer, you see unpunished criminals and dirty business dealings all over the place. Yet, it still feels rather cosy despite the dark corners and it never feels like the world is being painted as crooked for the sake of it.
- Leaving us satisfied with what we got but in a good place for another adventure next time something happens at Cooper’s Chase. The audiobook also has an interview with Richard Osman at the end which I didn’t manage to listen to in its entirety but may go back to. Funny to think that a book that was out of my comfort zone was one I really enjoyed while two books that were, in theory, in my comfort zone disappointed me. This is definitely one I’d recommend to lovers of cosy crime and those who want a more unusual crime novel.
Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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