Richard Osman is someone I’ve long admired for his Stephen-Fry-like ability to articulate knowledge on a wide variety of subjects in a way that is both witty and accessible. He’s the type of person for whom words seem to flow oh-so-effortlessly. It therefore took me by surprise to learn that writing a novel was a dream Osman had put on hold for many years due to a fear of not being good enough.
The lockdown of 2020 gave Osman the time to work on his dream in secret, with that work going onto become the bestseller that Steven Spielberg quickly snapped up the movie rights for. I think there’s a lesson there for anyone around not only pushing through fear, but also working on your dream without publicising it. By doing so, you alleviate some pressure and give yourself the freedom to write for yourself, rather than with a specific expectation in mind.
The Thursday Murder Club, the result of Osman’s “lockdown sessions”, is a quintessentially British murder mystery set in a luxurious retirement village, “Coopers Chase”. It follows a group of 70-somethings as they seek to solve a murder in their community.
Elizabeth, the spirited former intelligence agent spear-heading the group’s efforts, seems to be a lot of people’s favourite character. I can see why. She’s a delight to read! But favourite? If I were to personally pick a favourite, I think it’d be Joyce.
Joyce is a former nurse who society often overlooks, but who has a wealth and depth of insight to offer. I found great joy in little details like Joyce making a vegan cafe one of her regular haunts, with a hope of impressing her daughter with it; the fact she sometimes pretends not to be at home when flowers are delivered, so that others can see them; and the way she’s well aware of how she’s perceived by society, and sometimes uses that to her advantage.
Oh, and, Bogdan. Everyone will love Bogdan, the fiercely loyal and practical handyman.
Humour isn’t forced but happens naturally as each of the character’s thoughts and habits are explored further. With this, also come moments of great pathos. There was a moment where Joyce describes weeping for “the ladies who drank g&t all the way home”, as she reflected on those she’s lost, that really tugged at my heartstrings.
Richard Osman is brilliant at writing engaging characters who you fall in love with, because he’s brilliant at being curious and seeing beyond what society sees. I’m looking forward to getting into the sequel and the continued exploits of the residents of Coopers Chase.