by Sahana C.
I read the introduction on Goodreads: “Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves, a female cop with her first big case, a brutal murder. Welcome to…The Thursday Murder Club” and immediately placed a request for this book. Then I waited for a few weeks and was thrilled when I finally got the notification that the novel was ready for me. I finished it the day I started, because, first things first, the book is hilarious. I paged through, intent on the mystery and trying to pick up the clues scattered through the pages and thinking about the details of the case, then suddenly remembered that the characters are using and abusing the privileges of their old age. One of the main characters pretends to have her handbag stolen to talk to a police officer, while another pretends that his memory is going in order to get a detective to give him what he needs. All of them are ever-so-charming when they’re trying to get their way, and you suddenly remember that the point-of-view character is a seventy-something year old who is casually discussing (and excited about investigating!) murder.
The novel happens in a retirement village, Cooper’s Chase, and centers on four friends who genuinely seem to have absolutely nothing in common and no real reason to like each other. (Except Joyce: “I think we all like Joyce,” says Ibrahim. Ron and Elizabeth nod their agreement again. “Thank you, I’m sure,” says Joyce, chasing peas around her plate. “Don’t you think someone should invent flat peas?” (p 13)). The four meet weekly (on Thursdays, to no one’s surprise) in the Jigsaw Room to solve cold cases, especially murders. There’s Ron, a loudmouthed, passionate rabblerouser whose biggest role in the group comes from his unwavering suspicion of any sort of authority. Ibrahim, a retired psychiatrist, serves as the group’s resident tech expert, who is wildly proud of his technological prowess while also organizing and keeping the data on all of the crimes the club discusses. Joyce, the first point of view readers are introduced to, is a former nurse and the newest member of the group, who is steadfast and practical, keeps her head down, and bakes a mean cake in almost every other scene. Finally, rounding out the four and one of the founding members of the Thursday Murder Club is Elizabeth, who remains infinitely mysterious, with a checkered past, who always manages, somehow, to get her way.
Through trickery and subtle coercion, they involve themselves in the investigation of a murder that occurs adjacent to their retirement village, bringing two detectives into the fold: Donna, a young woman looking to prove herself, and Chris, a detective who feels a bit past his prime. The detectives quickly realize the importance of our Murder Club, never take them for granted, and come to realize that the Thursday Murder Club’s influence and investigative effort is absolutely necessary to solving the crime. Through it all, we get an actual well-constructed mystery, one that leaves bread crumbs and truly utilizes each of the ensemble cast of characters to the full extent of their humor and intelligence. It keeps the plot moving from beat to beat.
No real moral judgements are made in the story. The retirement village is full of rich and accomplished people who are ready for some time out of the spotlight, but who have their own secrets and problems, which in turn allows them to confront the criminals without any real superiority. The only judgements are for the truly obnoxious characters (one in particular, who simply has no manners), and even comes across as more of a grandparent’s headshake of disapproval than any real condemnation.
Sahana is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. She enjoys adding books to her “want to read” list despite having a mountain of books waiting for her already.