Saturday 21 November 2020

Several short reviews

Several books to catch up with today, all to do with murder mysteries, so my addiction to them obviously continues unabated.

I've finished Martin Edwards' The Golden Age of Murder at last. So informative and it's making my vintage crime reading a lot more interesting in that I now know who some of these authors are and what they were like. I didn't for instance know how shy Agatha Christie was and how much she hated public speaking. I didn't previously have a sense of what a huge, domineering sort of character Dorothy L. Sayers was... or G.K. Chesterton. It also made me try 'new to me' authors like Margery Allingham (although I had heard of her of course),  Anthony Berkeley and E.R. Punshon and it was nice not to be disappointed when I did. It made me go back to P.D. James too and her books will go with me into 2021 for a reread. This is a book to keep and refer back to. I loved it. 


So this is the book a lot of murder mystery fans have been reading and talking about. Richard Osman is a household name in the UK, famous for hosting the quiz shows, Pointless and The House of Games. He's smart, quick-witted and 'witty' and I've often wondered what he would come up with if he ever wrote a fictional book. And here's my answer, The Thursday Murder Club. It's based in a retirement village for the well off, attracting what you might call retired 'professionals'. Thus, there are many activities and clubs and four of the residents have formed a club looking into cold murder cases. Joyce is an ex-nurse, Ibrahim a psychiatrist, 'Red' Ron was a left-wing trade union leader and their leader, Elizabeth... well that becomes pretty obvious as the book goes along. The village was built by some pretty shady characters and as controvercial negotiations are going on about new builds in said village one of the them is killed. The Thursday Murder Club begins to investigate, dragging in a couple of reluctant police officers. I found this hugely enjoyable. Osman's very sharp sense of humour and of the ridiculous is really to the fore and I laughed at his gentle poking fun of our Britishness all the way through. There is sadness, this is an old people's village after all with the obvious results of extreme old age and Osman does not shy away from this. It means that this is not a straightforward whodunnit but I liked that - I found I really cared about everyone in it. If I have a tiny complaint it's that I got a bit confused towards the end about who was doing what to whom and why. You'll need your wits about you if read this so don't leave them snoring by the fire. Book two is out next year I gather and I look forward to it very much. 


Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet is part one of her 'Max Tudor' series. Max is an ex MI5 agent who has changed direction and become a vicar. He finds himself in Somerset ... at least I think that's where Nether Monkslip is, all hints point to the Quantocks or Mendip hills... but both beautiful areas. The village tyrant is Wanda Batton-Smythe and it's pretty clear from the start that she's for the chop although it's way into the book before it happens. Max finds the body and it's soon apparent that she died because of her allergy to peanuts. Given how careful she is about this it's immediately suspicious and murder is eventually proven. Because of his background the police rope Max in to help solve the murder. This wasn't bad but it was slightly lacking in something and I'm not sure what. Perhaps just a bit too cozy for my taste but I'm sure it would appeal to lots of people. I was a bit thrown to be told Max had got 'catsup' down himself though (or was trying to avoid doing so, I can't remember now). 'Catsup'? Then I remembered that tomato ketchup is called that in parts of the US but I still can't think why a British vicar would be thinking of it as 'catsup'. No matter, this is a series I probably won't be continuing with anyway but it was a pleasant enough distraction for a day or two.


Lark said...

Love the art at the top! And I can't wait to read The Thursday Murder Club. It just sounds like so much fun. :) Enjoy your weekend!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Cath, I downloaded the audio of the Thursday Murder Club. Hope to get to it soon.

BTW: Did you just change your blog design and header picture? I wanted to make a change but am AFRAID to as Blogger has been so temperamental lately.

CLM said...

My goodness, 141 holds in my library system on The Thursday Murder Club! But maybe that is good - I want to spend the next two months reading books I already own or maybe the library books already checked out.

I also love the traveling ladies. I like the cover of the Malliet but have not read this author.

I need to get back to The Golden Age of Murder. There were so many authors I was unfamiliar with that I put it down for a bit and that was a long time ago. But now, thanks to British Library, I am actually reading some of them.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

Now see what you have done! That's another two new titles for my TBR pile, as I already have the Martin Edwards book on there!

I wouldn't have expected Richard Osman to have written a fiction book, as in the back of my mind I always put him in the same intellectual sphere as Stephen Fry, so would have thought of him writing something non-fiction and educational. The book was only available to 'wish' for on NetGalley, so I have marked my interest, but probably don't hold out much hope of success!

I can't recall ever reading any Malliet books, although they do sound quite intriguing, even more so if you think they might be set up here in the Somerset Hills. I see that she put several of her early books up on NetGalley, but nothing recently, so this series is going to have to go on my 'wish list', unless you think they work okay as stand alone stories and I could get away with just ordering this one to see how I get on with it?

Thanks for sharing :)

Yvonne xx

TracyK said...

Good to hear that you liked The Thursday Murder Club. I just skimmed your assessment but I had heard very good things about the book and you have confirmed them. Here I am buying (or wanting to buy) all these 2020 books when I usually wait a few years. I just today purchased Moonflower Murders, the followup to Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. And I am starting reading it tonight.

I read Wicked Autumn and the second in the series. I enjoyed the first one but decided to stop after the second. A lot of readers do like the series though. I think the 2nd one confirms what you thought, something is missing. And there was another part I did not like but it would be sort of spoilerish to mention it so I will just say I had had enough.

But I read Malliet's Death of a Cozy Writer and the second in that series and loved that one so who can tell?

I love your header, please tell us more about it.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

Hi Cath, I've been wondering about reading Richard Osman's book, so now you've convinced me to read it. I don't think I'll bother with Wicked Autumn though. I read Martin Edwards' book and enjoyed it, and as you say it is a book to refer back to - a great source of information.

Cath said...

For those who asked:

My new header is by Augustus Leopold Egg (1816 - 1863), a British painter. The painting is called, 'Travelling Companions', painted in 1862, the view out of the window is of Menton in the south of France. I found the image searching for images of women reading. I like railway carriage paintings too, so this suited me nicely.

Lark: Glad you like my new header. I think you'll like The Thursday Murder Club, it's so good.

Diane: I hope you enjoy The Thursday Murder Club. It's been pretty popular, Steven Spielberg has bought the rights to make a film apparently.

Yes, I changed my header pic (info above) and didn't really have any difficulty. That aspect hasn't changed much but the difficulty with putting pics in a post the way you want them to look really annoys me.

Constance: 141! Wow. I know it's been popular but that's crazy. Maybe they should invest in a few more copies.

Glad you like, 'Travelling Companions', I loved it the minute I saw it.

With The Golden Age of Murder I got really intrigued by the authors I didn't know so read several of those alongside it and found that worked really well.

Cath said...

Yvonne: Sorry! LOL

I think Richard Osman's usual output is quiz type non-fiction based on The House of Games. I actually own that one and we had fun with it last Christmas. The Thursday Murder Club book has been 'massively' popular, beaten only by J.K. Rowlings in the ratings I gather.

I've only read the one G.M. Malliet book - the first in the series - so don't really have any idea whether the rest would stand alone or not I'm afraid.

Tracy: I think, by and large, the good things you've heard about The Thursday Murder Club are true. Osman is quite an accomplished writer and the book will make you smile a lot. I plan to get hold of the next Horowitz book at some stage too, like you I'm not normally someone who buys a lot of current books.

Interesting that you felt like me about Wicked Autumn and its sequel. If I had nothing else to read I would carry on with the series but my bookshelves are *full* and I want to move on.

More info about my header in my first reply comment.

Margaret: The sense of humour in The Thursday Murder Club is very British so I think you would enjoy it. I gather he visited such a retirement village full of intelligent, retired professionals and it occurred to him that if there was a murder there they would be able to solve it without the help of the police. That's where the idea for the book came from.

Sam said...

The Golden Age of Murder sounds fascinating - and a bit dangerous. Can't imagine how many new books I would add to the TBR if I read this one.

I'm not immediately familiar with Richard Osman, but the book sounds like fun, especially since I'm of that certain age myself.

Oh...and I very much love the new header. That's really an eye-catcher.

Nan said...

I have the GAoM book, and it is wonderful to "dip" into and read about someone you are reading.
I tried the first Malliet book, and didn't finish. I just couldn't get into it.
I bought the Osman book and am so looking forward to it!

Nan said...

Oh, and I LOVE the blog header picture!!!

Cath said...

Sam: Yes, The Golden Age of Murder is quite dangerous. I've probably bought 3 or 4 books off the back of it and there will likely be more.

The Richard Osman book is the book of the autumn here in the UK. Huge sales, second only to J.K. Rowling's HP books I've heard. As you've spent time here in the UK I do think you would get the humour.

Thank you, the new header seems to have attracted quite a lot of interest!

Nan: Yes, I do feel that I will going back to GAoM time and time again so I'm keeping it where it's easily accessible. I understand completely why you couldn't get into the Malliet book, I'm not sure now why I didn't abandon it myself. I think you will like the Osman book, it has a lot of 'heart', I connected to the people in it very quickly.

Glad you like the new header.

Susan said...

I just picked up THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB at the library this morning. It's been getting such good reviews that I can't wait to read it. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Cath said...

Oh, I hope you enjoy it, Susan!

CLM said...

I'm thinking maybe I should buy the Osman for my sister for Christmas, and either read it first or after. She doesn't like cozies but it sounds more lively than those. It is hard to find her a crime series she hasn't read but it is no fun not getting a book for Christmas or birthday, so I always try.


Cath said...

Constance: No, this is not really a cozy. Far too much sad reality for the elderly in it for that. Plus the humour is very sharp and intelligent. I think you could try this one for your sister for Christmas.

Rosemary said...

Cath - I have only just realised that you did review the GN Malliet!

I agree with what you say about it. The last one I read, 'At Prior's Wood', had so many Americanisms in it that in the end these were all I could focus on - I even made a list of them. In the foreword the author merrily announces that all Americanism were hers and could we please forgive them - well no, I couldn't in the end. It surely can't be that difficult for an American to find out the words used for things in the UK (or at least for an editor to correct them), and it soon becomes irritating - 'In Prior's Wood' included things like 'automobile accident', 'that fit the bill' 'he was desperate for a solve' (is that right even in American English?), 'come stay with me' (said by an English character), 'dwindling numbers of British', '"that would be six o'clock straight up then" thought Max (allegedly!) and 'the cop I was talking to'

Oh dear, I know this makes me sound awfully pedantic - I could overlook one or two slips, but having this many ruined the book for me.

Cath said...

Rosemary: Don't you just love it when authors say things like that? (Not.) It's pure laziness... the net would provide the UK alternatives *or*, radical idea, give the MS to someone who lives in the UK to 'Britcheck'. Hardly a difficult thing to achieve. It leaves me with the feeling that the author doesn't care enough to get it right. I feel your pain because I'm going through it with my current book, as I mentioned when I replied to your comment on my latest post. We all know that Victorian teenagers said 'Awesome!' all the time....

If you're pedantic then so am I. I must be because 'catsup' in book one really threw me, I was actually astonished to see that.