June Book Club: Thursday Murder Club
Welcome to our thoughts on our June pick for the Well Read Company book club!
Richard Osman, presenter, producer, comedian and now writer, released his debut novel The Thursday Murder Club in September. The book sparked a huge bidding war and shot its way into becoming the fastest-selling crime novel since records began. But does the novel live up to the hype, or does Osman simply join the hordes of celebrities trying to use their fame to dip their inexperienced toes into the world of literature?
The book centres around a group of eccentric retired 60-somethings who meet weekly to try and solve local crimes. They live in the fictional affluent retirement home of Cooper’s Chase. When a local property developer is brutally murdered, the four friends throw themselves into trying to solve the mystery. Osman’s familiar wit and one-liners work their way into the narrative, giving each pensioner a distinct and amusing personality. The baby boomer generation are reflected in an overall charming and relatable way: ‘I'm afraid I don't know WTF. I only discovered LOL from Joyce last week’.
However, he manages to bring elements of satire to the otherwise easy-going narrative. There are gentle mocking nods to middle-class England: ‘you can’t move here until you’re over sixty-five and the Waitrose delivery vans clink with wine and repeat prescriptions every time they pass over the cattle grid’. Here are the elements that made Agatha Christie’s cosy crimes as comfortable as a favourite jumper: the familiar settings, the amusing elderly characters, the intrigue of a community in which everyone knows one another’s business.
Yet I struggle to see what Osman’s brings to the genre that hasn’t already been achieved by his predecessors. In recent years, celebrities smothering the literary market has become a phenomenon threatening the livelihoods of traditional authors. From David Walliams to Kendall Jenner, it seems many celebrities are wanting to give it a try. Success (and talent) of course varies from celebrity to celebrity, but it has become a worry for authors who rely entirely on this industry for income. Other cosy crimes are arguably just as memorable as Osman’s work, yet his familiar household name has catapulted him to the top of the bestseller lists.
Whatever your opinions are on whether celebrities should be invading the bestseller lists, it remains an inevitable part of the literary world today. More people seem to be turning to reading as their favourite celebrities choose to pen books, which is a huge positive for publishing industries. The Thursday Murder Club does essentially what it does on the tin: it’s full of twists and turns, and packed full of humour!
NEXT MONTH: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Next month will be discussing The Underground Railroad, a novel that promises to stay in the mind for a while! Recently adapted into a stunning TV series, this historical novel details the life of two runaway slaves- a must-read for our times. We would love for you to get ahead and pick up a copy so that we can launch into discussion together. We'd love to hear your thoughts via Instagram, Facebook, email or by leaving a comment below!