There is so much joy when an author’s debut novel takes you by surprise. Luckily for all of us, Richard Osman follows up last year’s Thursday Murder Club very quickly! We guarantee that you will read this just as fast as last year’s book. Yes! It’s as cheeky and full of surprises as Thursday Murder Club. We said it before, we’ll say it again — Osman portrays growing older not as mystery but instead as an adventure that ALLOWS us to solve mysteries. Seriously, the “detectives” in Osman’s novels will charm their way into your life.
Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim—the Thursday Murder Club—are still riding high off their recent real-life murder case and are looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet at Cooper’s Chase, their posh retirement village.
But they are out of luck.
An unexpected visitor—an old pal of Elizabeth’s (or perhaps more than just a pal?)—arrives, desperate for her help. He has been accused of stealing diamonds worth millions from the wrong men and he’s seriously on the lam.
Then, as night follows day, the first body is found. But not the last. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim are up against a ruthless murderer who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can our four friends catch the killer before the killer catches them? And if they find the diamonds, too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus? You should never put anything beyond the Thursday Murder Club.
Richard Osman is back with everyone’s favorite mystery-solving quartet, and the second installment of The Thursday Murder Club series is just as clever and warm as the first—an unputdownable, laugh-out-loud pleasure of a read.
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The following Thursday . . .
I was talking to a woman in Ruskin Court, and she said she's on a diet," says Joyce, finishing her glass of wine. "She's eighty-two!"
"Walkers make you look fat," says Ron. "It's the thin legs."
"Why diet at eighty-two?" says Joyce. "What's a sausage roll going to do to you? Kill you? Well, join the queue."
The Thursday Murder Club has concluded its latest meeting. This week they have been looking at the cold case of a Hastings newsagent who murdered an intruder with a crossbow. He'd been arrested, but then the media had got involved, and the consensus was that a man should be allowed to protect his own shop with a crossbow, for goodness' sake, and he walked free, head held high.
A month or so later, police had discovered that the intruder was dating the newsagent's teenage daughter, and the newsagent had a long record of assault, but at that point everybody had moved on. It was 1975, after all. No CCTV, and no one wanting to make a fuss.
"Do you think a dog might be good company?" asks Joyce. "I thought I might either get a dog or join Instagram."
"I would advise against it," says Ibrahim.
"Oh, you'd advise against everything," says Ron.
"Broadly, yes," agrees Ibrahim.
"Not a big dog, of course," says Joyce. "I haven't got the Hoover for a big dog."
Joyce, Ron, Ibrahim, and Elizabeth are enjoying lunch at the restaurant that sits at the heart of the Coopers Chase community. There is a bottle of red and a bottle of white on their table. It is around a quarter to twelve.
"Don't get a small dog, though, Joyce," says Ron. "Small dogs are like small men: always got a point to prove. Yapping it up, barking at cars."
Joyce nods. "Perhaps a medium dog, then? Elizabeth?"
"Mmm, good idea," replies Elizabeth, though she is not really listening. How could she be, after the letter she received last night?
She's picking up the main points, of course. Elizabeth always stays alert, because you never know what might fall into your lap. She has heard all sorts over the years. A snippet of conversation in a Berlin bar, a loose-lipped Russian sailor on shore leave in Tripoli. In this instance, on a Thursday lunchtime in a sleepy Kent retirement village, it seems that Joyce wants a dog, there is a discussion about sizes, and Ibrahim has doubts. But her mind is elsewhere.
The letter was slipped under Elizabeth's door last night, by unseen hand.
I wonder if you remember me? Perhaps you don't, but without blowing my own trumpet, I imagine you might.
Life has worked its magic once more, and I discover, upon moving in this week, that we are now neighbors. What company I keep! You must be thinking they let in any old riffraff these days.
I know it has been some while since you last saw me, but I think it would be wonderful to renew our acquaintance after all these years.
Would you like to join me at 14 Ruskin Court for a drink?
A little housewarming? If so, how would three p.m. tomorrow
suit? No need to reply, I shall await with a bottle of wine regardless.
It really would be lovely to see you. So much to catch up on. An awful lot of water under the bridge, and so on.
I do hope you remember me, and I do hope to see you tomorrow.
Your old friend,
Elizabeth has been mulling it over ever since.
The last time she had seen Marcus Carmichael would have been late November, 1981, a very dark, very cold night by Lambeth Bridge, the Thames at low tide, her breath clouding in the freezing air. There had been a team of them, each one a specialist, and Elizabeth was in charge. They arrived in a white Transit van, shabby on the outside, seemingly owned by g. procter-windows, gutters, all jobs considered, but, on the inside, gleaming, full of buttons and screens. A young constable had cordoned off an area of the foreshore, and the pavement on the Albert Embankment had been closed.
Elizabeth and her team had clambered down a flight of stone steps, lethal with slick moss. The low tide had left behind a corpse, propped, almost sitting, against the near parapet of the bridge. Everything had been done properly; Elizabeth had made sure of that. One of her team had examined the clothing and rifled through the pockets of the heavy overcoat, a young woman from Highgate had taken photographs, and the doctor had recorded the death. It was clear the man had jumped into the Thames further upstream, or been pushed. That was for the coroner to decide. It would all be typed into a report by somebody or other, and Elizabeth would simply add her initials at the bottom. Neat and tidy.
The journey back up those slick steps with the corpse on a military stretcher had taken some time. A young constable, thrilled to have been called to help, had fallen and broken an ankle, which was all they needed. They explained they wouldn't be able to call an ambulance for the time being, and he took it in fairly good part. He received an unwarranted promotion several months later, so no lasting harm was done.
Her little unit eventually reached the embankment, and the body was loaded into the white Transit van. all jobs considered.
The team dispersed, save for Elizabeth and the doctor, who stayed in the van with the corpse as it was driven to a morgue in Hampshire. She hadn't worked with this particular doctor before-broad, red faced, a dark mustache turning gray-but he was interesting enough. A man you would remember. They'd discussed euthanasia and cricket until the doctor had dozed off.
Ibrahim is making a point with his wine glass. "I'm afraid I would advise against a dog altogether, Joyce-small, medium, or large-at your time in life."
"Oh, here he comes," says Ron.
"A medium dog," says Ibrahim, "say a terrier, or a Jack Russell perhaps, would have a life expectancy of around fourteen years."
"Says who?" asks Ron.
"Says the Kennel Club, in case you want to take it up with them, Ron. Would you like to take it up with them?"
"No, you're all right."
"Now, Joyce," Ibrahim continues, "you are seventy-seven years old?"
Joyce nods. "Seventy-eight next year."
"Well, that goes without saying, yes," agrees Ibrahim. "So, at seventy-seven years old, we have to take a look at your life expectancy."
"Ooh, yes?" says Joyce. "I love this sort of thing. I had my tarot done on the pier once. She said I was going to come into money."
"Specifically, we have to look at the chances of your life expectancy exceeding the life expectancy of a medium dog."
"It's a mystery to me why you never got married, old son," says Ron to Ibrahim, and takes the bottle of white wine from the cooler on the table. "With that silver tongue of yours. Top-up, anyone?"
"Thank you, Ron," says Joyce. "Fill it to the brim to save having to do it again."
Ibrahim continues. "A woman of seventy-seven has a fifty-one percent chance of living for another fifteen years."
"This is jolly," says Joyce. "I didn't come into money, by the way."
"So if you were to get a dog now, Joyce, would you outlive it? That's the question."
"I'd outlive a dog through pure spite," says Ron. "We'd just sit in opposite corners of the room, staring each other out, and see who went first. Not me. It's like when we were negotiating with British Leyland in 'seventy-eight. The moment one of their lot went to the loo first, I knew we had 'em." Ron knocks back more wine. "Never go to the loo first. Tie a knot in it if you have to."
"The truth is, Joyce," says Ibrahim, "maybe you would, and maybe you wouldn't. Fifty-one percent. It's the toss of a coin, and I don't believe that is a risk worth taking. You must never die before your dog."
"And is that an old Egyptian saying, or an old psychiatrist's saying?" asks Joyce. "Or something you just made up?"
Ibrahim tips his glass toward Joyce again, an indication of more wisdom to come. "You must die before your children, of course, because you have taught them to live without you. But not your dog. You teach your dog only to live with you."
"Well, that is certainly food for thought, Ibrahim; thank you," says Joyce. "A bit soulless perhaps. Don't you think, Elizabeth?"
Elizabeth hears, but her mind is still in the back of the speeding Transit van with the corpse and the doctor with the mustache. Not the only such occasion in Elizabeth's career, but unusual enough to be memorable-
anyone who knew Marcus Carmichael would have known that.
"Get a dog that's old already; beat Ibrahim's system," Elizabeth says.
And here was Carmichael again, years later. Looking for what? A friendly chat? Cozy reminiscence by an open fire? Who knew?
Their bill is brought to the table by a new member of the serving staff. Her name is Poppy, and she has a tattoo of a daisy on her forearm. Poppy has been at the restaurant for nearly two weeks now and, thus far, the reviews have not been good.
"You've brought us table twelve, Poppy," says Ron.
Poppy nods. "Oh, yes, that's . . . silly me . . . what table is this?"
"Fifteen," says Ron. "You can tell because of the big number fifteen written on the candle."
"Sorry," says Poppy. "It's just remembering the food, and carrying it, and then the numbers. I'll get the hang of it eventually." She walks back to the kitchen.
"She is very well-meaning," says Ibrahim. "But ill-suited to this role."
"She has lovely nails, though," says Joyce. "Immaculate. Immaculate, aren't they, Elizabeth?"
Elizabeth nods. "Immaculate." Not the only thing she has noticed about Poppy, who seems to have sprung from nowhere, with her nails and her incompetence. But she has other things on her mind for now, and the mystery of Poppy can wait for another day.
She is going through the text of the letter again in her head. "I wonder if you remember me?" "An awful lot of water under the bridge, and so on."
Did Elizabeth remember Marcus Carmichael? What a ridiculous question. She had found Marcus Carmichael's dead body slumped against a Thames bridge at low tide. She had helped to carry his dead body up those slick stone steps in the dead of night. She had sat feet away from his corpse in a white Transit van advertising window cleaning services. She had broken the news of his death to his young wife and she had stood beside the grave at his funeral, as an appropriate mark of respect.
So, yes, Elizabeth remembers Marcus Carmichael very well indeed. Time to be back in the room, though. One thing at a time.
Elizabeth reaches for the white wine. "Ibrahim, not everything is about numbers. Ron, you would die long before the dog; male life expectancy is far lower than female life expectancy, and you know what your GP has said about your blood sugar. And Joyce, we both know you've already made up your mind. You'll get a rescue dog. It'll be sitting somewhere right now, all alone with big eyes, just waiting for you. You will be powerless and, besides, it'll be fun for all of us, so let's stop even discussing it."
"And how about Instagram?" says Joyce.
"I don't even know what that is, so feel free," says Elizabeth, and finishes her wine.
An invitation from a dead man? On reflection, she will be accepting.
We were watching Antiques Roadshow last night," says DCI Chris Hudson, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel. "And this woman comes on, and she's got these jugs, and your mum leans over to me and says-"
PC Donna De Freitas slams her head against the dashboard. "Sir, I am begging you. I am literally begging you. Please stop talking about my mum for ten minutes."
Chris Hudson is supposed to be mentoring her, smoothing her eventual path into CID, but you wouldn't know it from the almost total disrespect with which they treat each other or, indeed, from their friendship, which had blossomed the moment they met.
Donna had recently introduced Chris, her boss, to Patrice, her mum. She thought they might get along. As it turned out, they are getting along a little bit too well for her liking.
Stakeouts with Chris Hudson used to be more fun. There would be crisps, there would be quizzes, there would be gossip about the new DS who'd just started at Fairhaven and had accidentally sent a picture of his penis to a local shopkeeper who was asking for advice on security grilles.
They'd laugh, they'd eat, they'd put the world to rights.
But now? Sitting in Chris's Ford Focus on a late-autumn evening, keeping a watchful eye on Connie Johnson's lockup? Now Chris has a Tupperware container filled with olives, carrot batons, and hummus. The Tupperware container bought by her mum, the hummus made by her mum, and the carrot batons sliced by her mum. When Donna had suggested buying a Kit-Kat, he'd looked at her and said, "Empty calories."
Connie Johnson was their friendly local drug dealer. Well, Connie was more a drug wholesaler these days. The two Antonio brothers from St Leonards had controlled the local drug trade for some years, but they had gone missing around a year ago, and Connie Johnson had stepped into the breach. Whether she was just a drug wholesaler, or whether she was a murderer too, was open to question but, either way, that's why they were spending their week sitting in a Ford Focus, training binoculars on a Fairhaven lockup.
Chris has lost of bit of weight, he has had a nice haircut and is now wearing a pair of age-appropriate trainers-everything Donna has ever told him to do. She had used all the tricks in the book to encourage him, to convince him, to cajole him into looking after himself. But it turned out that, all along, the only real motivation he needed to change was to start having sex with her mum. You have to be so careful what you wish for.
Donna sinks back into her seat and puffs out her cheeks. She would kill for a Kit-Kat.
"Fair enough, fair enough," says Chris. "Okay, I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with Y."
Donna looks out of the window. Far below she sees the line of lockup garages, one of which belongs to Connie Johnson, the new drugs kingpin of Fairhaven. Queenpin? Beyond the lockups is the sea. The English Channel, inky black, moonlight picking out gentle waves. There is a light on the horizon, far out to sea.