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The Mass Media

Richard Osman shines a new light on crime fiction

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Katrina Sanville
Student enjoys “The Thursday Murder Club” on a quiet evening. Photo submitted by Katrina Sanville / Editor-in-Chief

Richard Osman is known to his fans for his diverse array of jobs from television host to producer to comedian. His most recent venture, however, has been becoming a novelist. Most celebrity novelists seem to be a hit or miss because they either just want another form of income, or want to share their own story. Osman does the opposite. Instead he created a unique murder mystery set in a retirement home.

“The Thursday Murder Club” was released in 2020, and was a hit from the start. In fact, Osman became the first debut novelist to be number one on Christmas (1) and the book was the “fastest-selling adult crime debut” in recorded history (2). Now, was this because of his famous name or the content of his book? The world may never know, but it has surely earned its place since.

The story centers around a retirement-home club that gives the book its name. Comprising four unique individuals, the club meets every Thursday morning to solve cold murder cases acquired by their leader. Elizabeth’s presence is like that of a shadow, weaving in-and-out of conversation, picking up intel as she goes. She also has a full contact book with a number for every department on the planet, which is quite useful to the group.

Elizabeth picks up leads and distributes them to her team: Ibrahim, Ron and Joyce. Ibrahim is a retired psychologist who seems to know a little of everything and has a library of books to back him up. Ron, famously known as Red Ron to his community, is a political union worker whose fiery energy keeps the reader entertained.

Joyce is a lovable woman, with enough heart to go around. Her journal entries are woven throughout with outright cheesy jokes, and are integral in allowing the reader insight as to how her brain works. The humor in the novel isn’t just characterization and witty banter. It’s fun for the reader to see play out.

Together, the four spend their Thursday mornings solving crimes, until one day a murder happens under their very noses. They pool their shared resources and work overtime to solve this crime alongside the local police force. The team works together with local detective PC Donna de Freitas. She tries her best to not give away key details in the case, but somehow the group always figures it out anyway.

The novel shows the complications of interpersonal relationships while still keeping a lighthearted tone throughout. The writing is ingenious, leading the reader to believe one thing before the novel goes in a completely different direction. This witty writing is what differentiates it from any other book in its genre.

“This makes a wonderful break from the dark and grisly fare of much of the crime fiction and mystery genre, and whilst the connection between our intrepid elderly sleuths and the police might require a suspension of disbelief, it works beautifully,” said one reviewer on GoodReads (3). This is where Osman truly shines in his writing. His personality clearly shows through his work and in his characters.

Osman brought a new voice to the crime genre that it desperately needed. The second and third books of this little series were released in the following years respectively.

Sources:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/dec/22/richard-osman-christmas-thursday-murder-club-barack-obama

  2. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/oct/03/the-thursday-club-by-richard-osman-review-cosy-caper

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3486571899?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1

About the Contributors
Rena Weafer, Arts Editor
Katrina Sanville, Editor-In-Chief