The Jigsaw Room at the Coopers Chase retirement village boasts the sort of club meeting schedule you’d expect: Art History, Conversational French, Chat and Crochet, Knit and Natter (bit of an internecine battle led to that crafty schism), Bowls Club and so on. And of course there’s the Thursday Murder Club, a diverse foursome of pensioners whose routine re-investigations of police cold cases (files provided courtesy of a former member who is hors de combat in a coma over in the nursing wing of the village) have taken a back seat to a real live murder involving the developers of the retirement village. The developers recently proposed a massive (and massively unpopular with the current residents) expansion of Coopers Chase, which will involve digging up and moving the graves of the nuns who formerly ran the convent that was repurposed into retirement housing. So lots of people have a motive, but can the Club help the police find the culprit in what may be the final hurrah of their long lives?
The murder mystery is solid in The Thursday Murder Club (2020) unabashedly cozy mystery, but the rat-a-tat comedic patter is a cut above the genre’s usual. At times it almost reads like a Lewis-Martin comedy skit, but underneath the easy humor lies some genuine feeling and emotion among these older persons whose formerly vital lives have slowed and dimmed with their advancing years. The flesh may be weak, but their spirits and their brains don’t seem to have skipped a beat on the way to octogenarian hood.
Chapters alternate between viewpoints, including a diary being kept by Joyce, the newest member of the TMC who details the investigation along with chatty asides about life in the village and the widower she has her widow’s eye on. The police who find themselves inadvertently working with the Club manage to evade most of the usual cop stereotypes and prove themselves as sharp investigators in addition to perfect comedic foils for the amateur crime enthusiasts. All in all, a very enjoyable read. After reading it, I went and put the second book in the series on reserve at the library. I’m no more ready to bid farewell to the denizens of Coopers Chase than they are to go gently into that good night.