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Pointless egghead Richard Osman has written his first novel. Photograph: David M Benett, Getty
Joyce used to be a nurse, Ron was once advised to calm down by Arthur Scargill, Ibrahim is a retired psychiatrist and Elizabeth, who knows everything, has an officially secret past. They live in a fancy retirement village in Kent, and on Thursdays they meet to solve murders (they reserve the room under Japanese Opera Discussion so they won’t be disturbed), poring over the details of long forgotten cold cases. When a live murder lands on their doorstep, they insinuate themselves into its investigation with charm and sly cunning and the reluctant assistance of PC Donna De Freitas, for whom they engineer an elevation to detective.
The Thursday Murder Club (Penguin Viking, £14.99) is Richard Osman’s remarkably accomplished debut, and it is that rare thing, a genuinely funny comic mystery that succeeds completely as a crime novel. With a wry, urbane, intelligent narrative voice pitched somewhere between Kate Atkinson in Jackson Brodie mode and Victoria Wood, Osman directs a diverse cast of characters with flair and a great deal of heart to deliver a page-turning treat.