Monday, March 1, 2021

Take a Romp with Richard Osman's Thursday Murder Club

If I never get to live my dream of retiring to Louise Penny’s Three Pines on the outskirts of Montreal, my second choice is now Richard Osman’s Coopers Chase in the British countryside where I hope the members of “The Thursday Murder Club” will find my skills as a reference librarian suitable for entrée.

Joyce is keeping a diary, so it is through her voice that we are first introduced to Elizabeth, Ron, and Ibrahim, the remaining members of the murder club. Since Penny, a former DCI who absconded with files of unsolved crimes upon her retirement, had a stroke and moved to the nursing home, the club has been circumspectly seeking a fourth member. As a former nurse, Joyce seems a perfect fit.

Joyce has a wry sense of humor, is not the least bit sentimental, and had me frequently laughing out loud, but forget the reviews that call this murder mystery hilarious. Osman has imbued his debut novel with deep psychological insight into the nature of aging with dignity, living with grief, and coping with loneliness.

Tony Curran had left the life of a drug dealer far behind, going straight as a contractor for the smarmy Ian Ventham, fast-talking, loose with the truth developer of Coopers Chace. Ventham has an unpopular expansion in mind, one that would mean the destruction of the ancient Catholic cemetery on the property, where many of the Chace’s seniors walk for exercise and contemplation.

But all those new units mean job security for Curran so why are Ian and Tony having such a heated altercation in the Coopers Chase parking lot for all the community to witness? And what to think when Curran turns up in a pool of his own blood on his luxurious kitchen floor? The Thursday Murder Club is chomping at the bit to get involved. They begin by enticing Donna, an officer recently relocated from London and bored out of her mind, to a meet and greet heavy on desserts and wine. Soon she introduces her DCI, Chris Hudson, to the group and they’re off and running.

Osman sprinkles his story with enough red herrings to keep clever readers on their toes throughout, but it’s his take on human nature that I loved most about this book. Life is so precarious. One bad choice made early on can ruin a life forever. How does one outrun his past? Is there more than one acceptable way to make amends for a youthful mistake? I found this to be a wise, wonderful discourse on human frailty wrapped in a complex murder plot that stymied me until the very end.

No comments: