Who wants to sit around knitting and playing bridge? Not these four amateur sleuths. Rather, they spend their time reviewing cold cases and chasing up criminals. Meet The Thursday Murder Club, Cooper Chase Retirement Home’s most deadly social group.
This book makes for such a fun book club read. It’s surprisingly light in tone and not too long. But there are enough twists and turns (maybe too many?) to give your book group a lot to talk about. Use our The Thursday Murder Club book club questions to help your group explore the book’s themes of betrayal, greed, loyalty to those we love, and how older folks still have a lot to offer (even when they’re out to pasture).
Our discussion guide for The Thursday Murder Club will get the conversation started with discussion prompts, a book synopsis and some thought provoking reviews.
And if you liked the book or the kinda-cozy murder mystery genre, we’ve got a few suggestions for you to add to your TBR pile.
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The Thursday Murder Club Synopsis
The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman
In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.
When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?
10 Book Club Questions for The Thursday Murder Club
These questions have been tailored to this book’s specific reading experience, but if you want more ideas, we also have an article with 101 generic book club questions.
- “Killing someone is easy. Hiding the body, now, that’s usually the hard part. That’s how you get caught. I was lucky enough to stumble upon the right place, the perfect place, really. I come back from time to time, just to make sure the thing is safe and sound. It always is, and I suppose it always will be. Sometimes I’ll have a cigarette, which I know I shouldn’t, but it’s my only vice.”
And with that opening line, we are off to the races. And yet, reflecting back upon all of the revelations in the closing chapter, is it at all clear which character was speaking here?
- Tony Curran’s murder set the action in motion. But his wasn’t the only murder and there were certainly plenty of other crimes and tragedies committed throughout the storyline of the book. What surprised, interested or confused you the most about the various murders and crimes?
- The typical amateur detective novel doesn’t usually use a diary as a narrative device. And yet, in The Thursday Murder Club, we got a lot of first person POV from Joyce’s diary. What did you think of her diary entries? What, if anything, did they add to the story?
- There is a tricky relationship which develops between the Murder Club and police team of Donna and Chris. At times, Elizabeth manipulates both police officers, but at other times, there is a friendly give-and-take happening. Did those relationships work for you? Why or why not?
- In the book, we meet four amateur detectives. Elizabeth (operative and ringleader), Ibrahim (psychiatrist and Zumba class aficionado), Ron (labor organizer who secretly prefers wine to beer) and Joyce (the nurse who cooks). Which did you identify with the most? If you joined the Murder Club, which role might you play in the group dynamic?
- Joyce says that she’s “…very happy to be overlooked and always have been.” Is that really true? What did you think of Joyce’s low key personality. Other than the diary, what does she contribute to the team?
- Elizabeth is carrying a lot of weight. She’s the key driver for the Club, trying to support Penny (and John) and carrying the burden of her own husband’s decline. How did you respond to Elizabeth’s driving role?
- A lot of Goodreads commenters were confused about the purpose of the photo, which was left at Curran’s murder scene, and also sent to Ron. Did this element confuse you as well? Was it a clue? Or was it a red herring?
- Were you in it more for the cast of characters…or for the murder?
- How much experience do you have with retirement homes and assisted living centers? Have you ever seen or heard of one with the amenities of Coopers Chase Retirement Village? Would you be willing to live there?
Selected Reviews for The Thursday Murder Club
“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.”
“I was immediately taken with the quirky and loveable cast of characters. The senior citizens made me chuckle with their sassy antics and their unapologetic zest for life. The gentle humor strikes just the right balance, without coming across as too flippant or cheesy.”
“The narrative jumps about so much it’s difficult to remember anyone’s name, much less become invested in anyone’s individual story….The actual resolution of the murder plot is such an afterthought though, and more weight seems to be given to our bumbling cop’s newfound romance with (weirdly) his junior police officer’s mum. Was this necessary?”
“Only if the mystery part had been half as good as the cast, this would certainly have been a favorite but sadly it was confusing and stretched needlessly.”
3 Books like The Thursday Murder Club
If your book club likes mysteries and thrillers, we have discussion guides for Northern Spy, The Last Thing He Told Me, The Paris Apartment and The Guest List. And The Maid is equally full of quirky characters and a cozy whodunnit.
If you are keen to read up on more sprightly elderly characters, then check our discussion guide for The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.
Otherwise, stay in the UK and check out one of the following three books, which are in keeping with the form and/or themes of The Thursday Murder Club.
The Man Who Died Twice (#2 Thursday Murder Club), Richard Osman
Because of the success of the first book, Osman has been pumping out more of Elizabeth and the gang.
In this second book, Elizabeth is contacted by an agent whom she formerly worked with. He’s in a serious pickle after stealing £20 million in diamonds, and he’s on the run from some thugs. His connection with Elizabeth is much deeper than we are initially led to believe, and she decides to help him find a safe house.
But there is also an attack on Ibrahim and the close knit group has to buckle down to get to the bottom of it.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley
Bradley’s Flavia de Luce is at the opposite end of the age spectrum. She’s a 1950’s pre-teen with a precocious, inquisitive nature and a passion for poisons. Her loving, but emotionally distant father and “I can’t be bothered” sister leave Flavia pretty much to her own devices. So, when she discovers a dead man in the cucumber patch, she takes on the investigation herself.
Like The Murder Club, this delightful series has amateur sleuthing and some light hearted bumbling but it also doesn’t shy away from painful family dynamics and tragedy.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce
Poor Harold. A deep sadness has compelled him to take a most unlikely 600 mile quest on foot to visit an old flame, who lives in a care home. Harold becomes an unwilling media sensation and accrues an motley cast of disciples along the way.
There isn’t a mystery centering this book, other than the underlying cause of Harold’s sadness. But it’s a comp for the Murder Club for its sympathetic portrayal of a retired man whose not yet ready to give up on life.
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