The Thursday Murder Club
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I used multiple formats for this book. I started with the hardback and switched to audio only briefly around Ch. 45 and then got a large print copy which I interspersed with audio. I preferred the book and had a hard time keeping everything straight and maintaining focus on the audio.
It's a mystery, but I tried hard to make this review spoiler free.
Beginning in Ch. 4 there were already so many names running around I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to follow the story. Names are dropped like we know who all these people are. To add to the confusion there are multiple voices telling the story. There is Joyce who tells the story as told to her diary. There is an omniscient narrator that covers the things that happen away from Coopers Chase and then I thought it is Elizabeth who tells the rest of the story, like in Ch. 3 when Coopers Chase is described and it says "You can't move here..." (Pg. 15). That made me think it was an inside narrator. But at the end of the chapter it says, "That , in a nutshell, was Coopers Chase" and the "was" throws me. I wondered if the narrator was dead, or if Coopers Chase is no more. Joyce and Elizabeth are both residents at Coopers Chase, a retirement village. It gets even more confusing when Elizabeth begins talking to a lady named Penny, who we soon find out is non-responsive, probably in a coma.
I also had a moment of confusion at the end of Part 1. It seemed like Ian was having a flashback to childhood and I had to re-listen to the scene to understand it for certain. The closer I got to the end, the more concerned I became that I wasn't going to pick up on a hint or understand who killed whom. Thankfully Joyce gives a re-cap in Ch. 115.
On a scale of 1 - 5 (5 being a lot of examples/instances):
Sex - ref. to a couple banging and a brief conversation about whether men are too old to do it. (Ch. 66)
Religion - a list of convent habits and other aspects of convent life is detailed in Ch. 3. A priest's collar is referred to as a "dog collar". (Ch. 7, Pg. 32 and also Pg. 73) A character comments that he should show a priest respect because what if he's right. (Pg. 74) A priest is respectful in a graveyard and fights to maintain its sanctity. (Ch. 30) Reference to God having a sense of humor. (Ch. 95) Chapter 97 is set in a confessional. There are a lot of references to religious things but it's not really a religious book - it doesn't preach at you.
Gruesome - nothing that I recall
Suspense - as the book went on, I did get more and more curious about who committed the crimes
Morality - obviously killing is immoral, but it's not really the focus. There are some veiled references to euthanasia.
Traditional - at the end of Ch. 9 a character tells us about using dating apps and only wanting to meet women younger than him before he tells us, subtly, that he is married. Tactfully left out the ending of "up his..." (Ch. 49). Unlike most books of current day, everyone follows the societal norms of their natural gender.
I used my best Google Maps skills to attempt to locate the place described at the beginning of Chapter 3. I could not find any place where those names converged. It seems the location is entirely fictional, although it's possible the author had a location in mind and changed the names to protect the innocent. I was, however, able to find a Wikipedia that corroborated the whole bit about the Green Line in Cyprus when the Turks invaded the Greek city.
In Chapter 3, we read a list of the amenities of Cooper's Chase. What are the must haves for your dream retirement location?
Joyce said, "I never knew I liked beer. Imagine if I'd died at seventy. I never would had known." What did you discover late in life?
"You always know when it's your first time, don't you? But you rarely know when it's your final time. Anyway, I wish I had kept the program." (Ch. 23 and 24) What final time do you wish you had known about?
Why did Elizabeth comment that mentioning Joyce again got easier every time (while she was talking to Penny)? (Pg. 116)
What did Ellidge look for every morning at the end of the drive. (Ch. 45)
What do we gain from Joyce's point of view that we wouldn't with just the omniscient narrator?
Were you surprised when a character was revealed as an imposter? (Ch. 69)
Were the derogatory comments about the characters clothing a clue or just bad form?
Donna spoke sternly to the Thursday Murder Club in Chapter 76. Was it warranted?
What did you think happened to Bernard when he didn't answer Joyce's "All's Well" call? (Ch. 87)
Who was your favorite character? (Mine was Chris, I could identify with his personal struggles with food and loneliness.)
What were your theories about who the killer or killers were? When were you led astray? When did you figure it out correctly?
Ibrahim says, "Some people love their children more than they love their partner and some people love their partner more than their children. And no one can ever admit to either thing." (Ch. 88) Do you agree? Will you admit to loving one more than the other?
Why did Ian's killer feel such a need to protect Peter's killer even still in the current day? (Ch. 115, bottom p. 455 LP)
Pose a question and answer to the group and follow up two weeks later to see who remembers, like Elizabeth does. (Ch. 24)
Serve Shepherd's Pie like Joyce is eating when we meet her on page five.
Serve mint chocolate chip ice cream because Joyce met the man who invented it. (Pg. 8)
Set up a smoothie bar in honor of Ian. (Pg. 27)
Serve shortbread fingers/cookies (biscuits) as Father Mackie eats at the meeting. (Ch. 7/Pg. 32)
Serve beer, like Ron, Joyce and Jason enjoy in Ch. 8.
Serve macaroons like Jason made on MasterChef. (Ch. 8/Pg. 34)
Serve mint tea and almond flour brownies in honor of Joyce and the vegan cafe she visits. (Ch. 5)
Serve Diet Coke in honor of DCI Chris Hudson who also indulges in gas station sandwiches, potato chips and Twix. (Ch. 17)
Serve muesli like Joyce eats to fuel her day. (Ch. 23)
Serve gin and tonic in a can, like the last time Joyce went to London (Ch. 23/Pg. 82)
Serve lamb with rice like Joyce does for Bernard. (Ch. 26)
Serve a lemon drizzle and "coffee and walnut" with almond flour like Joyce made when Elizabeth asked her to bake something and host the meeting in her front room since it wasn't Thursday. (Also, it "is Bernard's favorite, but you mustn't read anything into that.") (Pg. 94)
Serve mini-cheddars like Joyce takes on the road trip. (Ch. 38)
Serve Krispy Kremes and carrot sticks like at the meeting in Ch. 39.
Serve cranberry juice in honor of PC Donna de Freitas. (Ch. 46)
Serve Viennese Whirls. (Ch. 56)
Serve monkfish and pancetta like Jason ate for lunch. (Ch. 67)
Serve cans of Stella like Ron drank in the graveyard. (Ch. 71)
Serve steak and kidney. (Ch. 74)
Serve walnuts in honor of Ibrahim. (Ch. 81)
Serve gooseberry crumble like Joyce was making at the end of the book. (Ch. 115)
Decorate with freesias like Joyce bought for Bernard from Peter's shop. (Ch. 82)