Friday 27 January 2023


Book review: Death Comes to Marlow (The Marlow Murder Club #2) by Robert Thorogood

Seniors solving murders seem to be all the rage again these days. While, of course, it's always delightful to return to the classics, such as Miss Marple, I do have a particular weak spot for more contemporary characters. I'm a BIG fan of Richard Osman's Thursday Murder Club series (see my reviews for books 1 and 2) – and I also thoroughly enjoyed Robert Thorogood's The Marlow Murder Club, which introduced Judith Potts sleuthing away. In the sequel, Death Comes to Marlow, the 77-year-old puzzle-whizz has returned, alongside her friends Suzie and Becks, and a whole new cast of eclectic Marlow residents.  

After a spot of wild swimming and an altercation with a swan, Judith Potts arrives home to receive a phone call from Sir Peter Bailey, with a last-minute invitation to a party. Initially she's sceptic but when an innocent joke about murder seems to rattle him, Judith is intrigued. After all, she could never resist a mystery. With her friend Suzie in tow, she joins Sir Peter and his family for what she soon realises is the party the day before his wedding. He's about to marry his nurse, Jenny, which will make her the new Lady Bailey.

However, Sir Peter's son Tristram shows up unexpectedly and the two Baileys get into a public fight. Not long after, there's an almighty crash coming from Sir Peter's study and a small group of guests gather outside to try to communicate with whoever is inside. When there's no response, Tristram forces the door – which is locked – open. They discover that a large cabinet has toppled over and crushed Sir Peter to dead. His salmon-pink trousers sticking out like a posh Wicked Witch of the East...

I do love a good locked room murder mystery. I usually find the "how" absolutely impossible to figure out, which really keeps me engaged and on my toes throughout. And never more so than with this clever tale by Robert Thorogood. The door was locked and could only be opened by an ancient key that was found in Sir Peter's trousers. And the windows hadn't been opened for years, so how could someone possibly get in and out of the room to commit murder and leave unseen? It's deliciously complex and very satisfying when the inevitable reveal happens. 

Although I will say that I guessed the "who" part of the whodunnit from the earliest pages of the novel, and wasn't thrown off by red herrings throughout. And there are actually two other mysteries running throughout this story for which I pretty much knew where they were going too early on in the book. Maybe I've hit a point where I've just ready so many murder mysteries in a row that I've become a good detective? Poirot, watch out... Usually I don't like being able to guess where the story is going, but because the "how" was very much unexpected, I still enjoyed the book until that final intriguing page. 

Mostly, though, I absolutely adored the hilarious escapades the trio of friends get into on their journey to uncovering the mystery. That kept me even more entertained throughout than the murder mystery at hand. Their mad schemes were complemented very well by the voice of reason: police officer Tanika, who has also made a return in the sequel. Her storyline goes into unexpected directions in this book, which really builds out her character and adds a lot of depth. 

I already enjoyed The Marlow Murder Club, but I absolutely adored the sequel Death Comes to Marlow. Thorogood has really found the voices for his characters and I love all the antics that Judith and her friends get up to. They're so unapologetically themselves, from Judith's rebellious streak through to Suzie's desire to be famous. I realise murder is a very serious topic, but I've honestly not giggled as much in ages as I did while reading this delightful tale. 

Yes, this is a murder mystery, but it's as much a book about friendship, community, and women (re)discovering themselves at various stages – and ages – in life. Judith, Suzie, Becks and Tanika are so wonderful, genuine, and inspiring – and I want all of them to be my friends immediately. 

Death Comes to Marlow by Robert Thorogood is published by HQ (an imprint of HarperCollins) and you can now buy a copy from your favourite local book shop!

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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