Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, large print, ebook, audiobook
Genres: mystery, thriller
Series: Thursday Murder Club #4
Published by Pamela Dorman Books on September 19, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org, Better World Books
Shocking news reaches the Thursday Murder Club.
An old friend in the antiques business has been killed, and a dangerous package he was protecting has gone missing.
As the gang springs into action they encounter art forgers, online fraudsters and drug dealers, as well as heartache close to home.
With the body count rising, the package still missing and trouble firmly on their tail, has their luck finally run out? And who will be the last devil to die?
The first ‘devil’ to die in this fourth entry in the Thursday Murder Club series is an old friend who helped them solve the case in the previous book in the series, The Bullet That Missed. Kuldesh Sharma was an antiques dealer who was lucky enough to be making a decent living in a business where too many people get caught up in buying things they love rather than trading in things they can sell at a profit.
But his luck ran out on a lonely country road with a bullet in his head that absolutely did not miss this time around.
Technically, his luck ran out earlier that Boxing Day, when he was one of the few antique shops open for business on a day when the local heroin importers needed someplace to hold onto a box for them. It was an offer he knew he couldn’t refuse, lest he end up exactly the way he did, dead with his store ransacked.
Those events aren’t linked the way that anyone expects them to be, and thereby hangs a tale. Specifically, this tale of bad luck and worse choices, an utter inability on the part of several unlucky individuals to distinguish friend from foe, a trail of bodies both guilty and innocent, and a small box that may not be bigger on the inside but is certainly a great deal larger in some dimensions than it appears.
Escape Rating A: The Last Devil to Die turned out to be the perfect capstone to this series so far, but I had more than a bit of an approach/avoidance problem to reading it all the way to the bitter end.
I also had the same hard time writing this up because there’s a point near that end that gave me the weepies. Seriously, I started crying. If you read the whole series so far, there’s a strong possibility that you will, too. It’s not exactly unexpected but it does invoke one hell of a lot of feels. Those tears rain over this entire review. Consider yourself warned.
What makes this case so convoluted is that, at least at the beginning, NO ONE really knows what it’s about – but everyone has made assumptions in that regard. Which makes the whole thing fall directly into that cliché about ‘assume’ and asses.
To the police, at least in the persons of the Thursday Murder Club’s police buddies Chris and Donna, it’s all about the heroin, or at least it’s about the local drug kingpins chasing the heroin. Because it would be a really serious feather in Chris and Donna’s caps if they could manage to nail those bastards to the wall.
But there’s a big deal officer from London who has come to take over the case and thrown our friends off the case – with rather extreme prejudice. Leading Chris and Donna to continue their investigation following rather more closely in the footsteps of the Thursday Murder Club – at least in regards to extra-legal methods – than either of them is strictly comfortable with.
Whatever the police think this case is about, the local drug gangs seem to be making a much bigger fuss over a mere 100,000 pounds worth of heroin. That not 100,000 pounds of heroin, which would be a pretty big deal, but rather a small amount of the stuff worth 100,000 pounds.
Big difference. Huge difference. Orders of magnitude difference. It’s only after the Thursday Murder Club follows that trail of bodies that Elizabeth Best puts together what it’s really all about, in a scene worthy of the best of the classic murder mysteries – even if the trail and the reasons for it are anything but old fashioned.
What makes this series work as a whole is that, in spite of how fanciful the idea of a bunch of septuagenarians solving murders might be and often is, and as quirky and eccentric as the members of the Club absolutely are, there’s nothing silly or twee about the way they go about their business.
And it’s not just that they are as deadly serious as the corpses they discover, but also that they are pragmatic and savvy about their place in the world, that they have many more days behind them then ahead of them, that they are often discounted because of that, and that the end is coming for all of them and it’s important how they occupy that time and take care of that end as it comes.
I appreciate their perspective and their approach to their lives at this stage of them even more than I might have otherwise, as I’m now in my mid-60s and honestly I’d like to be them when I grow up. Preferably without having to deal with a string of dead bodies every other month, but the way they all work together and make a difference in the world, as well as their beautiful and supportive friendship, is something to aspire to.
There’s a hint at the end that the Thursday Murder Club will be tying up the loose ends of a case tangential to the one they investigated in The Bullet that Missed when this series continues. Which, according to the author’s afterword, won’t come as immediately as fans would prefer, but will happen once the Club and their legion of fans recover from their grief over The Last Devil to Die.