By Izzy Stringham
White River Books

Summer is always the best time to curl up and read for the sake of entertainment alone. Something about the hot days and long afternoons make escaping into a good book the best way to spend a few hours. Need something to take on that beach vacation or throw in a pool bag? “The Thursday Murder Club” by Richard Osman is the perfect choice.

Set in an idyllic retirement community in England, “The Thursday Murder Club” follows the interests, lives and shenanigans of a group of elderly friends who like to read up on cold cases and see if they can solve them. Their curiosity for murders is mostly innocent and for entertainment, but all too quickly, an actual murder occurs within their community and they get to work on the real thing. 

The overarching plot follows a real estate developer interested in expanding the retirement home. In order to do so, an old graveyard must be relocated. As the sale proceeds, and the digging in the cemetery starts, all kinds of secrets are laid bare that the Thursday Murder Club take upon themselves to investigate. Suddenly, everyone is a suspect, and secrets that were thought to be long buried and forgotten start to be revealed.

Told in the various perspectives of the core group of four friends, Osman creates hilarious tension and drama. The plot moves right along, with everyone getting into each other’s business, collecting “clues,” disregarding the police and their investigation and generally creating a scene. Throughout the entire story, there are laugh-out-loud moments, even during the most serious or heartbreaking sections. 

Twists in the plot abound, and nothing is as it seems from the beginning, which makes for a satisfying mystery. What the reader is led to believe changes again and again, and kept me guessing until the very end. Osman is brilliant at balancing the absurd and the serious, and the wrap-up at the end ties together all the different threads of the story in a way that is both believable and pulls at the heartstrings a little. 

Along with the hilarity and nonsense going on with the murder investigations, Osman takes a deep and compassionate look at growing older, losing spouses and dear friends and what it means to be gazing down the last years of your life. All of the characters experience loss, confusion and simple joy in their relationships with one another. The murders only add to the entertainment factor. 

Humor is Osman’s best tool in this book, and the wit and wisdom of all four main characters show that keeping on, despite all that life can throw, is both a skill and a lesson to learn. Gentleness, and the ability to laugh and stay curious, are traits all the characters possess. Osman may well be telling us all that life is continuing all around us, every day of our lives, and we should seize it and make the best of it. That is, of course, as the Thursday Murder Club knows quite well, until it isn’t.

Grab a copy of this wonderful book and settle in for a page-turning summer read. It’s an absolute joy. Paperback copies are available at White River Books in Carbondale.

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