It is an ordinary Thursday, and things should finally be returning to normal.
Except trouble is never far away where the Thursday Murder Club are concerned. A local news legend is on the hunt for a sensational headline, and soon the gang are hot on the trail of two murders, ten years apart.
To make matters worse, a new nemesis pays Elizabeth a visit, presenting her with a deadly mission: kill or be killed…
While Elizabeth grapples with her conscience (and a gun), the gang and their unlikely new friends (including TV stars, money launderers and ex-KGB colonels) unravel a new mystery. But can they catch the culprit and save Elizabeth before the murderer strikes again?
A cosy series that just seems to get cosier and more tightly plotted with each entry: the warm and close world of Cooper’s Chase and its inhabitants is as charming as ever; the vagaries of old age and dementia is explored with tenderness and insight; the decade old murder that propels this novel and the underworld that complicates it are all well balanced, and charming.
What I Liked
- The depiction of Stephen’s dementia was managed with real humanity
- Joyce’s taking a hulking Viking assassin in her path with barely a hesitation
- Joyce progressing from Instagram to cryptocurrency
- Bogdan and Donna
- The structural tautness of the plot and sub plot
What Could Have Been Different
- Elizabeth really needs to learn to trust her fellow Murder Clubbers!
After The Man Who Died Twice which I found a little bit of a whirlwind, this novel felt significantly… tauter.
We rejoin Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron as they investigate a decade old death of Bethany Waites, a local television journalist: having exposed an extensive VAT fraud, her car was pushed off a cliff. Her body is never recovered and whilst there are reasons that might explain it, it makes the investigation a little more difficult.
Where Osman is most at home is the local television studio – unsurprising considering his background – with local news presenter Mike Waghorn and his make-up artist, Pauline Jenkins, with Fiona Clemence who leapt from local news to prime time national television quiz shows. The scenes where Joyce and Elizabeth infiltrate her quiz Stop the Clocks – and Joyce tries to explain the labyrinthine rules – was delightful.
He is perhaps less confident in the murkier aspects of money laundering – whether in the traditional ways that Viktor the ex-KGB chief employs or the modern cryptocurrency on the threatening Viking – for the subplot. Broadly, the Viking kidnaps Elizabeth and tries to coerce her into killing Viktor by threatening to kill Joyce if she does not. Again, without giving spoilers, the resolution of this subplot was wonderful and genuinely funny.
We also keep up to date with the secondary characters. Elizabeth’s beloved husband Stephen fighting a losing battle with dementia is particularly poignant and it was lovely to see him take on an active part in the proceedings for once. And Bogdan and Donna… aww…
It is hard to say much more without dropping in those spoilers. Suffice it to say there are red herrings and false leads, and for once I did not actually guess the identity of the villain although I did anticipate the twist. Anyway, I shall leave it there with an exhortation to delve into these books if you have not yet done so. They are not the most literary novels ever, but they are thoroughly entertaining.