Published By: HQ
Released On: 05/01/2023
It’s been an enjoyable and murder-free time for Judith, Suzie and Becks – AKA the Marlow Murder Club – since the events of last year. The most exciting thing on the horizon is the upcoming wedding of Marlow grandee, Sir Peter Bailey, to his nurse, Jenny Page. Sir Peter is having a party at his grand mansion on the river Thames the day before the wedding, and Judith and Co. are looking forward to a bit of free champagne.
But during the soiree, there’s a crash from inside the house, and when the Marlow Murder Club rush to investigate, they are shocked to find the groom-to-be crushed to death in his study.
The study was locked from the inside, so the police don’t consider the death suspicious. But Judith disagrees. As far as she’s concerned, Peter was murdered! And it’s up to the Marlow Murder Club to find the killer before he or she strikes again…
Thanks to NetGalley and HQ for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.
Controversial opinion alert: as much as I’ve enjoyed Richard Osman’s books (the first not so much but they vastly improve), I think Robert Thorogood’s cosy crime books are far superior. They have this sharpness about them, this preciseness, this natural-feeling about them, a quality you also get in Death in Paradise, which he also created.
It’s been nearly 18 months since I read the first book in this series and that’s a long time to remember characters and plots and whatnot. But Robert is so good at creating the familiar. Within minutes I’d settled back in, like a chair had been waiting for me. I knew who everyone was and how it related to the first one.
There’s something very Miss Marple about it. An unassuming old woman and her friends just going about their business, seemingly harmless, helping the police do their job. It’s simply marvellous.
I just couldn’t put it down. I read it in one sitting, eating into the night when I really wanted an early night, but I had to know who did it.
I think Judith is a wonderful character. Yes she’s a bit set in her ways, boisterous, a bit brash and full of herself, but all of that is wrapped up in this gorgeous, endearing old soul, and she carries the story marvellously. Then you have Suzie and Becks, also in the first book. They’re fab characters in their own ways and are great for Judith to work off. I think most readers, regardless of their age, can see themselves in one of the three main characters. Tanika, the police officer, is back, and I think she perfectly straddles her job and the law, with care and trust for these amateur sleuths. In this novel we meet Jenny, Sir Peter, Rosanna and Tristram. I imagine they’re only in this book and not in any future ones, but they’re given so much time and they are expertly woven into the story and the pre-existing characters.
This book had a number of secondary stories too. You’ve obviously got the main murder mystery element, but this one also gives Suzie her own brush with fame, and gives Becks a mysterious aura. It means the characters are more developed and each page is as thrilling as the previous one and the following one.
Sure, it stretches the truth a little. I mean, how much of what they can get away with legally is far more than I think would actually be allowed. But somehow, in this world he has created, it’s absolutely fine. We’re happy with it. It definitely has the essence of the golden age of crime novels, very Agatha Christie.
Overall, whilst I really enjoyed the first in the series, I loved this one even more. The characters are more familiar, the format is more familiar, and it’s just like returning home. I don’t know if he plans anymore books in the series but I sincerely hope he does. They’re some of the most entertaining murder mystery books I’ve read.