Book Review: The Thursday Murder Club, Book #1 by Richard Osman

I have to admit it: I totally picked this book up because I have watched Richard Osman quite a bit on quiz shows on British TV and liked his personality on TV. While I have read quite a number of crime novels (Patrick Cornwall, John Grisham, etc), it has been a long time since I picked one out to read, so it was sort of his celebrity status that made me buy this book.

I was not disappointed. I absolutely LOVED it! It’s a great story; well-written with a good balance of mystery and clues, a good dash of British humour, and many heartwarming moments with an insight into the retired mindset as well as a fabulous cast of characters.

Elizabeth is the leader of the pack, Ron, the one with a famous son, is the loud outspoken trouble-maker, Ibrahim, the psychiatrist, is the quiet voice of calm, and Joyce, the new addition, is the enthusiastic follower. They all have their stories and their past which we get to know bits and pieces of throughout the book.

They all live in a retirement village, quite a posh place, and pass their time solving cold cases which they have access to because Penny, Elizabeth’s best friend, was a detective in her previous life. But Penny is no longer able to be a part of The Thursday Murder Club but the others carry on.

Excitement enters their lives in the form of the murder of the man who is the builder of their beautiful retirement village. A real-life case – The Thursday Murder Club is on the case, much to the dismay of the local police.

Elizabeth, Ron, Ibrahim and Joyce might be retired and have about 30 decades between them but drawing on their great life experiences and previous work expertise, they definitely make quite the formidable team.

As the story goes on, more than one murder is revealed but is the same person responsible for all these murders? I love the layers Osman has worked into the plot and how wonderfully connected almost everything and everyone is. And skillfully interwoven into all of these are the personal stories of the characters. It’s really quite clever.

I also really like the writing style and how there’s a first-person narrative in the form of Joyce’s diary which breaks up the third-person accounts very nicely. It’s lovely to read Joyce’s observations of the various characters and situations with a nice little surprise at the end which I had not expected her to speak about.

There is a sneak peek chapter into the next book at the end of this first one. I am so getting the second and third books. I hope this review has done this superb novel and the delightful cast of characters justice.

Oh, and I have read that Steve Spielberg has bought the film rights to The Thursday Murder Club so I am looking forward to watching that when it comes out.

Happy reading!

syc

Book Review: Harris bin Potter and the Stoned Philosopher by Suffian Hakim

My darling husband gifted me this book for Christmas and I smiled like the Cheshire Cat when I saw it. It was one that had been on my TBR list.

As you would have guessed, it’s a parody of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I am a bit of a fan of J.K. Rowling’s Potter series of books – the heart of the stories she tells is why I think her books have such a wide appeal. I was hoping that such a parody would not miss that. And it certainly did not disappoint.

In keeping with the Singapore flavour of Harris bin Potter, I shall attempt to write some of this review in Singlish.

I tell you I super like this book. This Suffian Hakim, he very funny writer. No wonder it is number Uno in The Straits Times bestseller list. Hakim use proper Queen’s English when he writing but you can still feel so much Singapore flavour cos he use words like baju kurung, sial lah, relek in a corner, and many others.

He follow quite close to the Harry Potter one; he go to the school, here called Hog-tat-Halal-what, then got the bad guy – this one is called Lord Oldermat and he want to make everyone who show any Malay-ness no more magical. Then got the principal of the school, he called Pakcik Dollah. Got that talking hat, here called a songkok. Of course, got the fat cousin and family. Got all the professors – all with very funny names, I let you read yourself. Harris bin Potter has to live under the kitchen sink, worse than the Harry Potter one. People with no magic are called kosongs. Oh yes, definitely have the best friend, Ron and the girl, here called Her-Aku-Punya-Lutut – you can Google translate to find out why she called that. Don’t want to spoil the fun for you. Actually, in the book got footnote to tell you why also.

But I tell you, huh, I so long not live in Singapore, plus I never study Malay at school, I had to look at dictionary to know what some of the Malay words mean. When I understand already, I think, wah, this Hakim guy quite clever, no? Many times I LOL.

He also have some deep meaning in his writing; he even say in the book, in Chapter 11, “There are several things that many Malay people do not know. That is not to say that Malay people are predisposed to not know things – that would be a horribly racist statement to make, even if the author himself is Malay.” He use this story to talk about some stereotypes that people sometimes think about Malay people. It is not to fight anything, just to show it exists. But I hope that this sort of thinking will be no more soon. You read this interview Hakim gave to l’Officiel Singapore – good to know his thinking behind his writing.

So that’s the book review. I hope this has proven to be helpful in convincing you to go out, buy this book and read it. If you’re Singaporean, I know you will enjoy it and you would have also supported a local talent. If you’re not Singaporean, there might be some head-scratching moments, but nothing that a quick question to a Singaporean or Google won’t be able to help you with, plus it’s a good way to get know a bit of Singaporean culture.

If you have read it, do share your thoughts about this Singaporean version of a famous book.

Happy Reading!

syc

Book Review: Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho

This book was an impulse buy. I am absolutely hopeless at walking out of a bookstore empty-handed… LOL…

The back of the book blurb reads: “Crazy Rich Asians meets Bridget Jones’s Diary…” and I knew I had to give this book a shot. I have read Crazy Rich Asians (my review is here) as well as Bridget Jones’s Diary (which I read a long time ago) and I liked both so I thought it’s a good basis as any to read this story.

It was a good purchase! The main plot features Andrea Tang, in her mid-thirties with a successful law career and a flat of her own, enjoying life with a trendy group of friends. What more could you want? Well, in the very matriarchal Chinese-Malaysian family circle, she is lacking in one major part of her life; marriage. With the announcement of her cousin’s engagement, she is about to become the only unmarried member of her generation in the extended family.

With best friend and cousin, Linda (who is only half-Chinese so the family holds her to a different standard), she attempts to find Mr. Right. A chance meeting with very wealthy Mr. Eric Deng seems to be the answer to her ring-less problem but is she being true to herself? What about that annoying Suresh Aditparan who is also vying for partnership at her firm? Why can’t Andrea treat him more like an enemy?

I like Lauren Ho‘s style of writing. The voice she has given Andrea is slightly self-disparaging yet optimistic. The inclusion of a few colloquial terms and social media shorthand makes it appropriately Singaporean, bringing a smile to my face.

I love the play in the relationships between Andrea and Linda, Andrea and her mother/family, Andrea and her friends, Andrea and her work, Andrea and the men in her life, Andrea and her dreams. There are a few LOL moments and a few more head-shaking ones too.

The struggle to find a man whom you love while at the same time satisfying the expectations of the family is so familiar to many Asians but I think it’s not limited to Asia. However, the extent to which one would go or should go to satisfy family is a long and complex debate, depending on which side of the marriage journey you are on.

So if you are interested in learning a bit about an Asian woman’s mindset towards marriage and the juggling act between the demands of work-life and her family she performs, have a read of this book. Let me know what you think.

Happy Reading!

syc