Literacy 2023: Book 17: The Thursday Murder Club

Richard Osman’s cozy crime story about a group of residents of a retirement community solving a “real” murder

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Four residents of a retirement community formed The Thursday Murder Club, where they look over cold case files and try to find some kind of justice for victims of unsolved crimes. When someone close to their community is murdered, they’re compelled to investigate, in unofficial cooperation with the local police.


  • Compelling and more quick-moving than you might expect from the premise.
  • Cleverly structured to stay in sync with the reader — loose ends are tied up, and potential suspects are cleared away, right as they need to be.
  • Deftly walks the line between “ghoulish fascination with lurid details of murders” and “bringing a sense of justice,” which is one of the problems inherent in the whole idea of a “cozy” murder mystery.
  • Clear sense of good guys and bad guys, and more significantly, which characters deserve depth and which are left as caricatures.
  • Gives each of the main characters a history and a depth to their present.
  • Deeper themes run underneath the murder mystery, asserting the dignity of the elderly as complex human beings in a particular stage of their lives, instead of existing only as “old people.” Goes into the details of their relationships, their fears, and how their current lives overlap their previous ones.


  • Aggressively cozy. Obviously, “cozy murder story” is the whole pitch for this book, but it threatens to make everything feel too artificial.
  • Feels like a bit of a cheat to have a character who’s essentially a super-hero, but with the advantage of adding a Poirot-style character into a story that could’ve easily been just four Miss Marples.
  • Some of the revelations late in the book seem to come out of nowhere — they’re foreshadowed, but the reader gets no clues to deduce them.
  • Ends up being more of a “crime story” than “murder mystery,” as you’ve got a vague idea of suspects and red herrings, but not enough clues to solve the mystery yourself.

I was prepared to write this one off as “quick but shallow,” but halfway through, I was completely won over. I’d expected it to be just a case of a successful celebrity taking a stab at writing, taking advantage of his name-recognition to launch it into best-seller status. But it’s charming and often moving, a solid read as a murder mystery story, with just enough edge to its characters to make them appealing. I enjoyed it a lot, and I’m looking forward to the next three books in the series.