Today I’m sharing my thoughts on The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood, a very Christie-esque murder mystery that will appeal to Marple fans everywhere. My thanks to publisher HQ for the advance copy for review. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
To solve an impossible murder, you need an impossible hero…
Judith Potts is seventy-seven years old and blissfully happy. She lives on her own in a faded mansion just outside Marlow, there’s no man in her life to tell her what to do or how much whisky to drink, and to keep herself busy she sets crosswords for The Times newspaper.
One evening, while out swimming in the Thames, Judith witnesses a brutal murder. The local police don’t believe her story, so she decides to investigate for herself, and is soon joined in her quest by Suzie, a salt-of-the-earth dog-walker, and Becks, the prim and proper wife of the local Vicar.
Together, they are the Marlow Murder Club.
When another body turns up, they realise they have a real-life serial killer on their hands. And the puzzle they set out to solve has become a trap from which they might never escape…
Okay … so when I say that this. story is Christie-esque and will appeal to Marple fans, I mean purely in style in that it is an amatuer sleuth led cosy crime mystery, full of surprises and misdirection, and the kind of Agatha Christie style big reveal ending that will leave you with a satisfied smile on your face. The only similarities between Miss Marple and Judith Potts, Marlow’s answer to Christie’s crime-cracking spinster, is that both are of a certain age and both like solving puzzles. I could never imagine a time, even in her youth, when Jane Marple will have taken to swimming naked in the Thames, but this is exactly what Judith is doing when she hears the murder of her neighbour, Stefan Dunwoody.
Yes, it is true to say that Judith Potts is quite the character, so it’s hardly any wonder when nobody, the police included, will take her claims that Stefan was murdered, very seriously. But despite her eccentricities, and there are many, I really liked Judith as a character. She is bold, forthright and more than happy to insinuate herself into the investigation in spite of warnings from the police not to. She is exactly the right kind of madcap character to lead a story like this and her naturally inquisitive and logic driven mind means that she won’t give up, even when all the evidence points away from what she believes to be the truth.
Now this would not be a very good ‘club’ if there was only one member, and Judith is joined in her investigation by dog walker Suzie and vicar’s wife, Becks, albeit very reluctantly in Becks’ case. Suzie loves the fun and the mystery of it and is more than happy to get stuck into the search for the killer. She is very much the opposite of Judith, whose opulent, if somewhat messy, style of living couldn’t be further from Suzie’s meagre existence. And were Judith is refined, Suzie is as down to earth as they come. Throw into the mix the prim and proper Becks who just wants to be the perfect wife and mother and doesn’t like the disruption to her ordered existence that comes from knowing Judith, and you have a trio that shouldn’t work but. which absolutely does. They each have strengths which compliment the others, and they all bring their own brand of colour and, in some cases, humour to the story. All three women have an admirable tenacity though and a determination when going gets tough that makes you smile and root for them all the more. Even Becks was able to surprise me.
This is a brilliant story, full of twists and turns and red herrings, and as the number of victims grows so does the suspect pool. It certainly is a puzzle and although I figured out the who relatively quickly as I’ve seen this particular sleight of hand plotting before, I was still completely invested in the story and in seeing how Judith and co would figure it out and finally catch their man. Or woman. Whatever. And, well … That final nod of confession by Judith to her new friends. She’s one to watch, that one.
With a fun story full of tense moments, scenes that made me laugh, and the kind of end of investigation reveal that would make Jane Marple proud, if you like a modern twist on a Christie-style murder mystery, then you will likely love this. I’m intrigued to see if Judith and co will be back for more. I have a feeling those ladies would be unstoppable.
About the Author
Robert Thorogood is an English screenwriter. He is best known as the creator of the BBC 1 Murder Mystery Series, Death in Paradise.
Robert wrote for many years – selling scripts to the BBC, ITV and independent film companies – but before 2011 the only script of his that was actually broadcast was a Radio 4 afternoon play called From Abstraction about the life of Paul Wolfskehl.
In 2008, Robert entered the inaugural Red Planet Prize and was a chosen finalist, where he was able to pitch his ‘Copper in the Caribbean’ idea to Tony Jordan. By 2011, when the show was finally broadcast – making it Robert’s first TV broadcast credit at the age of 39 – Robert had become something of a poster boy for ‘never giving up on the dream’.