#BookReview: The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood

#BookReview: The Marlow Murder Club by Robert ThorogoodThe Marlow Murder Club (Marlow Murder Club, #1) by Robert Thorogood
Format: eARC
Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: cozy mystery, mystery
Series: Marlow Murder Club #1
Pages: 340
Published by Poisoned Pen Press on January 7, 2021
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBookshop.orgBetter World Books

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…

My Review:

Being in a murder-y mood this week, I was searching through the virtually towering TBR pile for mysteries, especially mystery series, that I hadn’t dipped into, and lo and behold The Marlow Murder Club popped to the top of the pile.

Recommended, pretty much everywhere as a readalike for The Thursday Murder Club, which I liked very much the second time I tackled it, I decided to give this other Murder Club a try. Even though that readalike recommendation isn’t quite on the nose – if anything Marlow turned out to be a teensy bit closer to An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good, this still turned out to be a fun cozy that fit right into both that murder-y mood and to be the second book this week featuring surprisingly successful amateur detectives aiding, abetting and looked down upon by less than stellar local police.

At least the local police in Marlow have a really good excuse for their less than stellar performance – and they do manage to redeem themselves in the end, which was certainly not the case in Monday’s A Mischief of Rats or its entire series so far.

Let me go back to the beginning – at least the beginning of The Marlow Murder Club.

One evening, eccentric, reclusive Judith Potts hears a murder. Specifically, she hears a gunshot at her nearest neighbor’s house and punts along the Thames from her house to his to see if he’s alright. He’s not – not that she quite knows that at the time.

So she calls it in, the local police come out to their remote corner just outside Marlow, and discover – absolutely nothing.

Judith can’t let that rest, so she goes over the next day – better prepared – and investigates for herself. She discovers something the police missed – her neighbor’s dead body, caught in the rushes, with a bullet hole in the center of his forehead.

The police try to pass it off as an accident – or even suicide – but Judith is having none of THAT. When a second body turns up, complete with forehead-centered bullet hole, and the bullets are proved to be from the same antique pistol, it’s clear that there’s a serial killer in a tiny, peaceful little Home Counties village that has never experienced anything like this. At all. Ever.

The local police, in the person of Detective Sergeant Tamika Malik, are in over their under-equipped, under-trained and under-staffed heads. There should be a Detective Inspector in charge of this case – but none are available and none will be. Malik makes much too convenient a scapegoat if the crimes go unsolved – which is exactly what her superiors expect from her.

But Malik has been shadowed, dogged, and out-investigated by Judith Potts and her two new friends and accomplices, dog-walker Suzie Harris and parson’s wife Becks Starling. They’ve found clues and leads at every turn, while Malik keeps coming up with exactly nothing.

Malik’s desperate, they’re determined. So she drafts them into service as volunteer consultants. Malik was told to do “everything in her power” to get this case solved – and that’s exactly what she does.

That it works, and the way that it works, surprises everyone in Marlow. Especially the killer.

Escape Rating B: Marlow is very cozy, in spite of the murder spree. But about that murder spree…I’ve seen this particular plot device before, so I recognized what was happening REALLY early on. At that point I didn’t have enough of a picture of Marlow to know precisely whodunnit but I knew precisely how it was done much too early on.

The initial suspect was a bit too smug, and resembled a real-life Lucius Malfoy entirely too much to be anything but the villain. Or at least, a villain, and thereby hung the whole, entire, tale.

That being said, the story still worked, not so much as a mystery but definitely as a cozy. The way that the “club” puts itself together was a hoot, as none of the members intend to band together for anything, with anyone, but they can’t resist not just solving the murder but the sense of camaraderie and outright sisterhood they receive from working together.

So it was great watching the gang pull together, and especially for all of these lonely people – and they are ALL lonely, even married Becks – find common cause, common purpose, and much-needed friendship – even if none of them would ever have admitted that they were in desperate need of all of the above.

The other thing I really liked was that, while the local police were completely overwhelmed by a serial killer in their tiny town, the reasons they were overwhelmed were much easier to understand and empathize with than the lackluster performance of the local constabulary in Monday’s book and its series – although I still like that series and intend to continue it.

The police in the Dr. Nell Ward series often seem distracted and incompetent and made more incompetent by their distractions. DS Malik, on the other hand, has been left in this soup very much over her head, knows it, and does a surprisingly good job of finding people to throw her a lifeline. I felt FOR her to the point that just as much as she drafts the “Marlow Murder Club” in as auxiliaries to the investigation, they adopt her as an auxiliary member of their “club”.

As much as the mystery in this first outing was screamingly obvious, I still stuck with the book and outright enjoyed it for the development of the characters and the setting. I’ll certainly be back for the next book in the series, Death Comes to Marlow, the next time I’m in a murder-y mood!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge