If I’m honest, I rarely read 'celebrity' penned books. As an avid reader of actual books by actual writers, a novel penned by a TV star (like a lot of television these days) is dumbed down, vacuous, and ultimately, trash – you could say pointless, even.
Publishing is also awash with reality stars penning biographies, cookbooks from one-time show winners, or a tv personality having a pop at writing fiction, as they already have the established audience. The latter is where we find ourselves in this book review. As a fervent true crime fan and having followed Richard Osman on twitter for a while, I did have some trepidation in clicking request when this book landed on my net galley list, as I’ve read a few dud celebrity fiction books in the past, (against my better judgement), I decided to give this a go.
Firstly, let’s take the title. It should be called The Sunday Murder Club. Set at Coopers Chase retirement complex, in leafy middle-class Kent no less, this twee piece of crime fiction, is at best, prime for an ITV Sunday night drama starring Felicity Kendall. The cast of characters certainly falls into Sunday night drama territory. Residents of the upmarket quintessentially English retirement home who form 'The Thursday Murder Club' are a bunch of octogenarians (or thereabout) with humourless personality traits (which I think are supposed to be endearing) that investigate historical cold case files, as opposed to being in a knitting club, perhaps. You can already see where this is going. That is until the murder of the care home boss (!) and his right-hand man, in dubious circumstances. Que the cliched detective duo sent out to investigate. These two feckless idiots seem to think it's viable to rely on evidence from a bunch of coffin dodgers, that unrealistically, seem to be fully informed about police procedural, forensic techniques (when a skeleton is found, of course) and the subsequent reveal of the killer (s)?
Secondly, it's poorly written. The narrative is clunky, arrogant, boring, and fails miserably at any attempt of suspense, characterisation, or execution.
Thirdly, in places it's unreadable. The narrative is split between a diary entry of one of the residents, another resident who was hiding a poorly husband, and another one who I think buried a body, was hung up on his dead wife, and then committed suicide or something. It almost sounds exciting when written down and I imagine it would be if an actual writer wrote it and not some pointless TV presenter.
I’m unsure as to how this ends as, unfortunately, I didn’t get that far. My kindle told me this would be a 2 and a half-hour read. I think I gave it about 58 minutes before giving up.
Unsurprisingly, the reviews have been unanimous (apart from this one) in praise and a sequel is in progress.
Just like reality TV, celebrity publishing is Pointless fodder for the masses.