The Quick Recap and Section-by-Section Summary for The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman are below. Spoiler warning: these summaries contains spoilers.
For a non-spoiler version of the plot synopsis, see The Bibliofile's review of The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman.
The one-paragraph version: Just after a new development is announced at the Coopers Chase retirement village, the lead builder (Tony) is killed and soon after the landowner (Ian) is killed as well. Four retirees (Elizabeth, Ron, Ibrahim and Joyce — the Thursday Murder Club) investigate the murders. Then, when construction begins on the new development, an extra unmarked set of bones dating from the 70s is found at the graveyard on the land. It’s eventually revealed that Tony’s murder was to settle a score associated an old drug-related killing. Ian’s murder was to derail the new development in order to prevent discovery of the bones. The bones belong to Peter Mercer and was a vigilante killing (by Penny, who is a former police detective and former founding member of the Thursday Murder Club before she got dementia) because Peter had gotten away with murdering his girlfriend.
Part One introduces the Thursday Murder Club, a group of four retirees — Elizabeth, Ron, Ibrahim and Joyce — at the Coopers Chase retirement village who get together to investigate unsolved cases. The group was originally founded by Elizabeth (whose former occupation can’t be disclosed) and Penny (a former police detective). Joyce is the newest member, who joined to replace Penny (who now has dementia).
Coopers Chase was once a convent housing the Sisters of the Holy Church. Now, it is owned by Ian Ventham, an unlikeable and unscrupulous man, who developed it into a retirement village along with his lead builder, Tony Curran. Ian has plans to purchase the land next to it as well, but the current owner Gordon Playfair doesn’t like him and doesn’t want to sell to him. Instead, Ian has been reminding Gordon’s daughter Karen of the large amount of money her father would be paid if she can convince Gordon otherwise.
As the story opens, Ian Ventham has called a meeting to announce “the Woodlands”, a new development on the lands. This announcement raises a lot of ire, especially because it will disturb the Garden of Eternal Rest cemetery where all the nuns from the former convent were laid to rest. Father Matthew Mackie shows up to voice his concerns about the cemetery. Ian also fires Tony Curran, replacing him with his main contractor Bogdan Jankowski. Later that day, Tony Curran is murdered.
By the next morning, the Thursday Murder Club has gotten wind of Tony’s murder and begins to investigate. Elizabeth first hatches a plan to get Police Constable Donna De Freitas (who they are friendly with and who is frustrated with doing low-level police work) assigned to the case by having Ron (who witnessed an argument between Ian and Tony) refuse to talk to anyone else. In exchange, Donna will provide them with some insider police information.
Next, Elizabeth gets her hands on Ian’s financial documents. They ask Joyce’s daughter Joanna (who works in private equity or something like that) to look at them, which shows that Ian made millions off of Tony’s death since Tony’s equity reverted to Ian when Tony was killed. They also establish that Ian could have gotten from Coopers Chase to Tony’s house in the time Ian was last seen (by Penny’s husband John at 3:00 PM) to the time Tony died (3:32 PM).
Meanwhile, the police (Chris Hudson and Donna) look into a photograph that was left by the killer next to Tony’s body. It’s an old photo that depicts Tony Curran, Bobby Tanner (a drug dealer many years ago) and Jason Ritchie (Ron’s son, a famous ex-boxer). They are sitting at a pub table that’s covered in cash. The three of them used to be involved in the drug trade together — with Tony running the show.
Soon, Ian sends some construction trucks to begin digging up the graveyard (to relocate the coffins) to prepare for the Woodlands development. In response, the residents of Coopers Chase find out form a human barrier to prevent the trucks from accessing to the cemetery. Instead, Bogdan goes in through the back trail and manually uses a shovel to begin digging up the graves. Elizabeth finds him there and questions him. Afterwards, he discovers one plot that contains an extra, unmarked skeleton.
Back in front of the gates, Ian has called the police (Chris and Donna) to have them clear out the crowd. However, when he sees Father Mackie show up, Ian loses his temper and he shoves Father Mackie. As a result, Chris tells Ian to leave. Before Ian reaches his car, he collapses and dies.
In Part Two, the police establish that Ian died of fentanyl poisoning as a result of a dose administered in the moments prior to his death. That means the possible suspects are limited to people who were at the gates of the cemetery that day.
Meanwhile, the police determine that Tony received three untraceable calls from the same number the morning he died. The security footage also shows that a car was stopped somewhere in the vicinity of Tony’s house for 10 minutes during the timeframe he was killed. Donna recognizes the untraceable number as Jason’s number which he had given her. The car also belongs to Jason. Donna and Chris soon question Jason, but he’s tight-lipped.
Afterwards, Jason pays a visit to Le Pont Noir, a gastropub that used to be The Black Bridge, the bar where the photo the killer left was taken. The photo was taken by Turkish Gianni, who used to be the fourth member of their gang. Jason recalls how in 2000, there was an incident where Tony had shot a young drug dealer, and they’d all seen it. There was one witness, a taxi driver, who Gianni killed in order to tie up loose ends. After the shooting, Jason and Bobby Tanner had both exited the drug business. No one knows where Bobby went. Gianni disappeared soon after as well.
In present day, Jason also received a copy of the photo in the mail a few days before Tony was killed. Concerned that he might be in danger as well, Jason reaches out to his father and the rest of the Thursday Murder Club to enlist their help in tracking down Bobby and Gianni, since he suspects one of them sent it to him.
Meanwhile, Bogdan tells Elizabeth about the extra skeleton he discovered. She has a friend of hers analyze the remains for them. He soon reports back that the remains belong to a male and that they date back to the 1970’s. The Thursday Murder Club suspects that the recent murders could have been for the purposes of stopping the new development in order to prevent the discovery of these bones.
Soon, Elizabeth manages to track down Bobby, who is now a florist going by the name of Peter Ward. Peter is able to prove to them that he was at his store when Tony was killed. As for Jason, Peter says he that he’s a “teddy bear” and wouldn’t have killed Tony. Peter also tells them that he thinks that Tony snitched on Gianni (about killing the taxi driver), which is why Gianni might’ve killed him. Gianni also made off with 100K of Tony’s money when he skipped town.
As for Gianni, Chris takes a trip to Cyprus, where Gianni’s family is based. He meets with Gianni’s father Costas Gunduz, to ask if he’s seen Gianni. Costas doesn’t answer. Instead, Joe Kyprianou, a Cypriot detective, tells him that the Gunduz family is in the drug trade and still very powerful here. He thinks that Gianni could have feasibly gone to the UK and back to kill Tony Curran. When Chris returns, he also questions Steve Georgiou (who knew Gianni and the rest of the gang back in the day), who is also tight-lipped, but Steve implies that Gianni recently returned.
Back at Coopers Chase, Ron and Ibrahim go to question Bernard, a fellow resident who Joyce has been spending time with and who is often seen sitting at a bench at the cemetery. Bernard claims he’s only there because he misses his wife. The next morning, Bernard has killed himself. In his suicide note, he writes about how he buried his wife’s ashes temporarily in the cemetery and planned to move them, but they constructed the bench over the same spot. Instead, he’s been going to the bench to visit her. Now, he’s ready to join her.
Around the same time, Donna and Chris learn that Father Mackie isn’t really a priest. Instead, he’s a former doctor. The Thursday Murder Club also go to visit Gordon Playfair who has been in the area for a long time. As they look through his photos, they see an old one of Father Mackie which shows that he was living in the area in the 70’s.
Elizabeth soon confronts Father Mackie, and he ends up telling her his story. He wasn’t a real priest but was living in the area and performing the functions of a priest at the convent (taking confessions, etc.) since they didn’t have one. He fell in love with one of the nuns, Sister Margaret (“Maggie”). However, Maggie got pregnant and killed herself (and their unborn child) after one of the other nuns ratted her out. She was laid to rest in the cemetery, which is why he was adamant about not letting her remains be disturbed.
Meanwhile, the group learns that Gemma Ventham (Ian’s wife) has sold Coopers Chase to a company called Bramley Holdings and that Gordan Playfair has sold his land to them as well. When the Thursday Murder Club next convenes, Jason offers them gifts for their help in tracking down Bobby and Gianni. He also pursues his own theory of who killed Ian Ventham. Jason confronts Karen Playfair, suggesting that she killed Ian to get him out of the way so that her father would sell the land. However, it soon becomes clear from Karen’s reaction that this is ludicrous.
Despite the murder accusation, Karen and Jason end up having a nice time together. Karen then remembers that John (Penny’s husband) had been her vet many years ago. Elizabeth goes to talk to John, and he admits that he and Penny had been in the area in the seventies. He also confesses to killing Ian in an attempt to prevent the bones from being discovered. Before Penny’s dementia had fully set in, she mentioned a case she’d investigated as a junior detective. She’d been certain that a young man, Peter Weber, had killed his girlfriend and had gotten away with it. So, Penny killed him in an act of vigilante justice and she hid the bones in the convent cemetery.
Despite their friendship, Elizabeth lets John know that she intends to turn him in the next day. John takes the opportunity to inject both himself and Penny with life-ending drugs before then — killing both himself and Penny.
As this is going on, Bogdan is playing chess with Elizabeth’s husband Stephen who has some type of brain fog/dementia in his old age. As they chat, Bogdan makes his own confession — he was really the one who killed Tony. He also killed Gianni a long time ago. The sole witness to Tony’s shooting at the Black Bridge in 2000 had been his best friend, Kazimir (the taxi driver). Tony had ordered Gianni to kill Kazimir to keep him quiet. In retribution, Bogdan killed Gianni and made it look like he fled the country. Steve helped him kill Gianni (which is why Steve let Chris believe that Gianni was still alive). Bogdan also took the 100K of Tony’s money that Gianni had been holding for him.
Since then, Bogdan has been waiting for the right time to kill Tony without getting caught. Bogdan recently helped Tony install the security system at his home, and so it presented Bogdan with the perfect opportunity to kill Tony.
Soon, John and Penny are buried. The police still have an international arrest warrant out for Gianni. Meanwhile, Joyce realizes that Joanna’s company is the one that bought Coopers Chase under the name Bramley Holdings. After Joanna inspected the books, she realized it was financially sound and decided to acquire it. Joanna reassures Joyce that she’ll make sure the cemetery is not disturbed. The book ends with Elizabeth slipping a note underneath Joyce’s door on a Thursday, which Joyce assumes means there will be more Thursday Murder Club shenanigans in store!
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Note: I’ve added some section headings in parenthesis to help navigate the summary, but these don’t appear in the book.
Part One: MEET NEW PEOPLE AND TRY NEW THINGS
Chapters 1 – 4 (Introducing Coopers Chase and the Thursday Night Murder Club)
Joyce Meadowcroft, Elizabeth, Ron Ritchie and Ibrahim Arif are members of the Thursday Murder Club (“TMC”) at the Coopers Chase Retirement Village in Britain, where they get together to act as amateur sleuths and work on solving murders. Today, Police Constable (“PC”) Donna De Freitas, a young black 26-year-old woman, gives them a talk on home security.
At the center of Coopers Chase is the old Sisters of the Holy Church building (which used to be a convent), which has a nursing home attached to is as well as three modern residential buildings built around it. It also has a restaurant, swimming pool complex with a Jaccuzi, recreation rooms, Jigsaw Rooms, lounge and library. Coopers Chase houses around 300 seniors and is owned by Ian Ventham.
Joyce is a former nurse and the newest member of the club. She replaced Penny Gray, a former police inspector who had access to files for unsolved murder cases, who has now moved into the nursing home (she’s largely unresponsive and has dementia). Elizabeth, who also used to do work she won’t discuss (but she’s familiar with investigative work and murders), originally formed the club with Penny. Ibrahim is a former psychiatrist. And Ron is a well-known former trade union leader.
Chapters 5 – 10 (The Woodlands Development and Tony’s Murder)
Ian Ventham calls a meeting at Coopers Chase to inform the residents of the “Woodland” development, a new development that he’s planning on the Coopers Chase lands that involves uprooting a graveyard. Ron, in particular, is furious when he learns about the development. Father Matthew Mackie shows up to the meeting, concerned about the graveyard. Ian also fires his main builder, Tony Curran, who owns 25% of Coopers Chase. He asks his contractor Bogdan Jankowski to replace Tony.
Meanwhile, Ron’s son, Jason Ritchie, is a famous boxer and is visiting. He lets Ron know that someone will be contacting him to appear on an episode of Famous Family Trees, where they chart celebrity family ancestries, that Jason is participating in. As they chat, Joyce, Jason and Ron all see Tony and Ian arguing heatedly.
Afterwards, Ian goes to visit Gordon Playfair, who owns the farmland abutting Coopers Chase. Ian has plans to develop that land as well. Gordon insists that they won’t sell the land, but his daughter Karen Playfair reassures Ian that they can work something out.
Back at home, Tony Curran is furious about being fired. He is determined to come up with a plan to kill Ian. Tony was once a drug dealer with his building business as merely a front. Now, he’s proud to be earning his profits legally, and he’s indignant at the idea of Ian cutting him out of the Woodlands development.
However, this afternoon Tony turns around just as someone hits him in the head with a large wrench (“spanner” in the UK). The killer leaves a photograph on the table nearby. Tony collapses onto the floor and dies in a pool of blood.
Chapters 11 – 19 (PC Donna De Freitas Joins the Case)
The next morning, Elizabeth and Ibrahim discuss the death of Tony Curran by blunt force trauma, and she recruits his and Ron’s help in working on the case. Elizbeth then visits Penny, who she uses as a sounding board for her thoughts. Elizabeth theorizes that Ian might be involved given the argument Ron witnessed, and she knows someone who can get her Ventham’s financial records.
Meanwhile, at the police station, PC Donna De Freitas eavesdrops on DCI Chris Hudson discussing the Tony Curran case. Tony Curran left Coopers Chase at 2:00 P.M. and died at 3:32 P.M. based on his Fitbit activity. Tony’s body was discovered by his wife. There were security cameras, so they plan to check out the footage.
DCI Chris Hudson also goes through Tony’s file, seeing that he was often involved in illegal activities in the past. It was understood that Tony ran the drug trade in Fairhaven back then. Then, around 2000, there was a case involving a young dealer who was shot at the Black Bridge. Tony had been a suspect, but they hadn’t been able to pin it on him. The only witness was a cab driver who disappeared. After that, Tony had stayed out of trouble.
As for the old photograph the killer left behind, it shows three men at a pub table covered in cash. Depicted are: Tony Curran, Jason Ritchie and Bobby Tanner, a local dealer and hired muscle. The police head off to question all three of them.
Elsewhere, Joyce boards the resident’s bus to Fairhaven for some shopping when Elizabeth steps in. Elizabeth leads Joyce to the Fairhaven Police Station, explaining to her that in order to investigate this murder, they need to get their hands on the police files.
In the lobby, Elizabeth pretends to cry, claiming that her bag was stolen. A male officer offers to take her statement, Elizabeth demands to speak to a female. Finally, Donna De Freitas comes over to help them. In the interview room, Donna asks what’s really going on. Elizabeth admits her purse wasn’t really stolen. Instead, Elizabeth asks Donna if she would like to be assigned to the Tony Curran murder, in exchange for providing them with some occasional insider police information about the case. Donna agrees, and they exchange numbers. Elizabeth says that she has a plan for Ron and Ibrahim to get her assigned to it within the hour.
DCI Chris Hudson arrives at Coopers Chase. He starts by meeting with Ron Ritchie to discuss the argument he saw between Tony and Ian. Ibrahim is there with Ron as well. Ron pretends to be feeble-minded and a little confused, saying he would prefer to talk to PC De Freitas since they know her and are comfortable with her. DCI Hudson pauses for a moment and then he offers to bring her onto the team and question him together. Ron readily agrees and offers to invite his son Jason who witnessed the argument as well.
Chapters 20 – 23 (Meeting with Joanna)
At Ian’s house, Bogdan Jankowski reflects on Tony’s death. He looks out at Ian’s garden which has a trail and a pond with a wooden bridge. Off to the right is a pool. Father Matthew Mackie shows up to try to talk with Bogdan and Ian about not disturbing the graveyard, the Garden of Eternal Rest. Ian reassures Father Mackie that the bodies are simply being relocated and will be moved with great care and respect, knowing he has no intention of doing it carefully or respectfully at all.
Meanwhile, Joyce reflects on how she’s often overlooked and is eager to find a way to contribute to the investigation. She’s considered “gentle” and “chatty” and “sensible”. She’s about to get her hair done — by Anthony who brings his mobile salon by each week — when Elizabeth walks in with a tote and flask in hand, asking for Joyce’s help.
They get on taxi that takes them to the train station. On the train, Elizabeth tells Joyce that they’re going to go see Joyce’s daughter Joanna. Elizabeth has acquired Ventham’s financial records via someone who owed her a favor, and she hopes they can glean some insights that they might be able to use as bargaining chips with the police if needed.
Elizabeth says that she has e-mailed Joanna (who knows about stuff like accounting and valuing companies) to arrange for her to help them decipher and analyze these documents. At Joanna’s offices, Joanna and Cornelius, an American man who works for Joanna, go over the documents with them. Joyce feels delighted to have seen her daughter.
Chapters 24 – 32 (First Meeting with Chris and Donna)
That night, Elizabeth quizzes herself on details from her records to test her memory, as she does each night. She writes the questions two weeks in advance and quizzes herself on them later.
She worries frequently about her memory slipping away like so many others, and she wants to make sure she’s the first to know if it starts happening. Tonight, she checks on her husband Stephen, an expert in Middle-Eastern art, whose memory is fuzzy and who seems to think his first wife, Emily, who died 25 years ago is still alive. Then, she jots down a new question for herself. It reads: HOW MUCH MONEY DID IAN VENTHAM MAKE FROM THE DEATH OF TONY CURRAN £12.25 MILLION.
The next day at Coopers Chase, Joyce has invited Bernard Cottle, a fellow resident and former science professor, out to lunch. Bernard has a daughter, Sufi, who lives in Vancouver. Bernard talks a lot about his late wife, and Joyce thinks about how she rarely talks about her late husband, Gerry. Thinking about him still makes her tear up.
By now, Donna De Freitas is now assigned to the Tony Curran’s case, and she’s excited to be doing “proper police work”. She and Chris head over to question Ian Ventham. They ask him about the photograph, and he claims he has never seen it before. They also ask him about his argument with Tony, which he claims was over some sprinkler installations.
Meanwhile, Father Matthew Mackie had hoped that Tony’s death might result in the development project coming to a standstill and is disappointed that it appears not to be the case. He goes to visit the Garden of Eternal Rest, looking somberly and sadly at the tombstones that date back to 1847. He thinks of the sisterhood of nuns that were laid to rest there. He passes by someone reading a newspaper on a bench on the way out.
Soon, Elizabeth reaches out to Donna and Chris, saying they have some information. Later that day, they all gather at Coopers Chase along with the rest of the Thursday Murder Club and Jason Ritchie as well. They ask Chris to talk them through the case, and he obliges them. Elizabeth then presents Chris and Donna with a binder of Ventham’s financial information.
Later, Jason shows up. Donna has done some research on Jason. She knows that he got famous as a boxer, but he ended up making less money than a lot of other boxers due to some issue with his manager. There were a few years after he retired from boxing that he seemed to have made money in shady ways — around the time that photograph was likely taken — but those years were left behind as he found parts in various movies and ads and reality shows.
When Donna and Chris ask Jason about Tony, he denies having any dealing with him. Donna describes the photo of them together, and he says he doesn’t know recall the photo. Finally, they ask him about the third man in the photo, Bobby Tanner, but he claims he doesn’t know where to find him.
Chapters 33 – 44 (The Drive from Coopers Chase to Ian Ventham’s House)
After the meeting with Donna and Chris, Elizabeth brings Penny over to Anthony’s mobile salon to make sure Penny has her hair done. As they talk about the case, Elizabeth suggests that Tony probably knew the killer which was why there was no sign of forced entry.
Penny’s husband John tells Elizabeth that he saw Ian Ventham driving away from Coopers Chase at exactly 3:00 P.M. Elizabeth immediately texts Donna asking when exactly Tony Curran was killed, and Donna (after some hesitation) responds that it was at 3:32 P.M.
Donna goes to bed early after going on a bad first date. That night, she scrolls though her ex Carl’s new girlfriend’s Instagram feed, which is turning into a habit. She then decides to call Elizabeth to talk through the files on the Tony Curran case. Elizabeth explains how the files show that Ian benefitted financially from Tony’s death, since Tony’s shares in Cooper Chase reverted to Ian Ventham when Tony died. At 11:00 PM, Donna shows up at Chris’s place to discuss their findings.
The next day, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim all take a drive from Coopers Chase to Tony Curran’s house. It takes them 37 minutes, without traffic. Ibrahim estimates that Ian could have done the drive in 29 minutes, giving him a few minutes to get in and kill Tony.
Meanwhile, at the police station the next morning, Chris addresses the murder squad. He explains how Ian cut Tony out, how Ian profited off of Tony’s death and how the two were seen having an argument that day. They note that Tony Curran had three missed calls from an untraceable number that morning. They’re also still having trouble tracking down Bobby Tanner.
That same day, despite Father Mackie’s pleas, Ian decides to call Bogdan to get work started on uprooting the graveyard the next morning.
Earlier that day, Bernard Cottle was sitting on a bench on a hill with his newspaper. That night, Bernard is online, looking over at the plans for the Woodlands as he has countless before.
Chapters 45 – 53 (Showdown at the Gate and Ian Ventham’s Death)
During his daily morning walk, Edwin Ellidge, a former head teacher and beekeeper, is the first to notice Ian Ventham’s vehicle and the diggers’ vehicles headed for the hill to dig up the graveyard. By 6:45 A.M., the word has spread across the entire village, and everyone is out to confront them by 7:30 A.M.
Ron leads the group and they block off access to the cemetery by setting up lounge chairs in front of the gate, which effectively turns into a street party. There are also three people who have padlocked themselves to the gate — Maureen Gadd, Barbara Kelly and one other person. Ian reminds the crowd that he’s legally in the right and that the profits from the new development will help to keep their “service charge” low. Ian also calls the police to ask for their help in clearing out the crowd.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth has made her way into the cemetery through the back path. She sees Bogdan there and questions him about Tony’s death. Bogdan reveals that he was the one who installed Tony’s alarm system, but he of course denies killing Tony. Before she leaves, Elizabeth tells Bogdan that her name is Marina, knowing that it is his mothers’ name. Bogdan later finds himself thinking about this “Marina”.
After she leaves, Bogdan continues digging up graves with a shovel. After digging up a few coffins, he realizes there seems to be one skeleton that is outside a coffin, with another skeleton inside the coffin. He suspects that he should have someone come inspect it to see why this is, but he worries that it will delay the development. Instead, he decides to ask Ian what to do later.
Soon, Chris and Donna arrive on scene to try to convince everyone to clear out. (Joyce notes that Donna seems to like Chris.) After some dicsussion, most people clear out, except for the people padlocked to the gate and Bernard who resolutely sits there, unmoved. Ron then grabs a chair and sits next to him.
Father Mackie soon shows up as well after being alerted by Maureen Gadd about the commotion at the cemetery. When Ian sees him, he rushes over and shoves Mackie, causing Mackie to fall over. When the commotion dies down, Chris threatens to arrest Ian for assault if he doesn’t clear out and go home.
Ian begrudgingly heads home. As he does, his thoughts get muddled. Before he can get into his car, he stumbles and falls. The section ends with: “Ian Ventham is dead before he hits the ground.”
Chapters 54 – 64 (Questioning Jason Ritchie)
After Ian’s death, the police soon establish that the cause of death was a massive overdoes of fentanyl poisoning that was somehow administered to his upper arm in the moments before his death. Chris alerts the team that this piece of information should be kept strictly under wraps.
At the same time, Elizabeth has learned about the fentanyl poisoning from one of her sources. She gets the Thursday Murder Club together to begin investigating Ian’s death. They compile a list of suspects based on who could have come into contact with Ian right before he died. Afterwards, Elizabeth talks over the case with John and Penny. John, a former veterinarian, mentions that it would be difficult to acquire fentanyl from a pharmacy. Instead, the killer most likely bought it online via the dark web. Elizabeth makes a note to check to see who in their suspect list owns a computer.
At the police station, DI Terry Hallet reports that they’ve identified a vehicle that seems to have stopped for 12 minutes somewhere in the vicinity of Tony Curran’s house during the timeframe in question. Donna then tells Chris that she has recognized the untraceable number that called Tony three times that morning. It is Jason Ritchie’s number, which he had given to Donna. The vehicle in question also belongs to Jason.
The go to find Jason who is rehearsing for an episode of Celebrity Ice Dance. They confront him from the information and ask him to submit a DNA sample, but he refuses. Afterwards, Donna comments that if he really was the killer, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for him to leave a photo of himself next to the body.
Meanwhile, Bogdan is still thinking about “Marina”/Elizabeth and decides to go to her flat to bring her flowers. When she gets home, she finds Bogdan and Stephen playing chess together. Bogdan soon realizes that “Marina” is really Elizabeth. He invites her to the graveyard to ask her about his discovery.
Chapters 65 – 67 (The Black Bridge)
At the cemetery, Elizabeth thinks about how Bernard spends so much time on the bench at the graveyard. She wonders what exactly he would lose if the development was to move forward. Bogdan then shows Elizabeth how he found two sets of bones, one inside the coffin and one outside, in one plot. He says he’s not sure who to tell about it. Elizabeth says that she thinks they should tell her police at some point — but not yet.
That night, Jason Ritchie goes to visit Le Pont Noir, which was once called the Black Bridge. He has with him the photograph of him, Tony and Bobby Tanner that someone had made a point to send him recently. The photograph had been taken here many years before by “Turkish Gianni”, the fourth member of their gang. Jason suspects that either Bobby or Gianni was one who sent him the photo.
Jason also thinks back to the night that Tony shot that boy. He, Tony, Gianni and Bobby had all been there that night. The boy had been set up by Steve Georgiou, one of the guys at the fringes of their gang, resulting in Tony shooting the boy. After the shooting, Tony had told a cabbie he knew to dump the boy’s body, and then afterwards Tony had shot the cabbie as well just to be careful. After that night, Jason had decided to get out of the drug trade, as did Gianni. Soon after, Bobby’s brother Troy had died on boat full of drugs, and Bobby Tanner had left too.
In present day, Jason thinks that he should track down Bobby and Gianni in case the photo was a warning that someone intended to kill him, too. Jason decides to reach out to his dad for help.
Chapters 68 – 76 (The Fake Priest and the Extra Skeleton)
Around the same time, Donna and Chris confront “Father” Matthew Mackie, who they’ve learned isn’t a priest at all. Instead, he’s a former general practice doctor. Matthew Macke denies that he’s a conman, but declines to explain himself. Instead, Matthew says that he’ll only explain if they formally charge him, but Donna and Chris decide not to for the time being.
After Jason explains to Ron about the photograph, Ron reaches out to the rest of the Thursday Murder Club for help in tracking down Bobby and Gianni. Jason tells them how he received this photo in the mail shortly before Tony was killed. He initially thought Tony had sent it to him. He’d tried calling Tony a few times, and then he came down too Coopers Chase that day (the day Tony was killed) to ask Tony about it. He’d then gone to Tony’s house to talk to him, but no one answered, so he left.
Shortly thereafter, the Thursday Murder Club meet with Bogdan and someone Elizabeth knows named Austin to check out the grave. Austin inspects the bones and takes a few samples to do some analysis. The next morning, he reports back with his findings. They all wonder if the killer was trying to stop the development in order to prevent this skeleton from being discovered.
The next evening, the Thursday Murder Club invites Donna and Chris to discuss their findings. Chris and Donna are angry at them for not reporting it immediately, but Elizabeth brushes off their concerns. Elizabeth lets them know that they’ve reburied it so that the police can rediscover the body when they dig up the graves. She also reports Austin’s findings, that it’s a male who was killed in the 1970’s. In exchange, Donna and Chris tell them about Matthew Mackie actually being a doctor and not a priest. Elizabeth also tells them that “Turkish Gianni” was the one who took the photo the killer left.
Chapters 77 – 83 (Peter Ward)
Back in his office, Chris mulls over the case. If the murder was linked to the bones, then Mackie wouldn’t be a good suspect since he was living in Ireland until the 90’s (and the person was killed here in the 70’s). By now, Chris has also determined that that Turkish Gianni’s real name is Gianni Gunduz. He left the country after rumors that he’d killed the witness (the cabbie) in the Black Bridge killing.
The next morning, Elizabeth beckons Joyce to go with her to Folkestone to a successful florist’s shop called The Flower Mill owned by someone named Peter Ward. The opening of The Flower Mill many years ago helped to reinvigorate the area, and it’s now a busy and happy shopping area. Elizabeth and Joyce are there because Peter Ward used to be Bobby Tanner.
Elizabeth presents Peter with the photograph, but he claims he’s never seen it and that no one sent him a copy of it. Peter also shows Elizabeth the security footage from the store on the day Tony died to show that he was in the store then and couldn’t have killed Tony. Peter also tells him that he doesn’t think Jason killed Tony (“he’s a teddy bear”), and he fills them in on the full story about Gianni. Someone had snitched (“grassed”) about Gianni to the cops, and they had searched his place but he was already gone. However, he left with 100K of Tony’s money.
Peter’s story is that he got into the drug trade though smuggling drugs on trucks carrying flowers by making a deal with drivers. After some time, they bought a nursery to make things easier. However, they eventually were caught by the police. Now, Peter’s a florist and no longer in the drug trade. Elizabeth explains that she tracked him down because he went to visit his brother’s grave on his brother’s birthday and on the anniversary of his death. She agrees to keep his identity a secret if he agrees to meet with the police and Jason tomorrow and repeat his story to them.
Meanwhile, Ibrahim and Ron go to the bench where Bernard always sits to talk to him. As they try to question him, Bernard gets upset. He says that he sits there because he misses his wife. However, Ibrahim tells Bernard that he doesn’t believe him. After Ibrahim and Ron leave, Bernard goes to the shared garden shed. He looks at a spade resting against the back wall and he “weeps for what he has done’.
The next day, Bobby/Peter meets with Chris, Donna, Jason, Elizabeth and Joyce. He fills them in on his story. Chris asks about Gianni, and Jason and Bobby have one potential lead for Gianni’s whereabouts. Later that day, Jason and Bobby meet with Steve Georgiou, who owns a gym now, to ask him about Gianni.
After the meeting, Elizabeth introduces Donna to Penny. The meeting inspires Donna, and afterwards she thinks about how she hopes to solve the murders and maybe even become a Detective Inspector someday.
Chapters 77 – 93 (Bernard’s Death)
The next morning, Joyce finds a letter addressed to her taped on Bernard’s door. He has killed himself. She reads the letter to the group. In it, he describes how he missed his late wife Asima and didn’t feel much of a desire to live without her. He also explains why he spent so much time at that bench. His daughter had wanted to spread his wife’s ashes on the Ganges. However, he hadn’t wanted to part with the ashes, so he gave her fake ashes and buried Asima’s ashes in the cemetery instead. Before he could relocate them, they’d installed the bench in the same spot over her ashes. Instead, he traveled there each day to talk to her and be near her. He still feels very guilty for not having given his daughter her mother’s ashes.
Meanwhile, Joyce and Elizabeth learn from Gemma Ventham that she has sold Coopers Chase Holdings to a company called Bramley Holdings (Joyce notes that the name rings a bell, but she can’t recall why). Next, they go to see Gordon Playfair, and he says that he’s agreed to sell his land to Bramley Holdings as well. The only reason he had held out on selling for so long was because he disliked Ian Ventham so much. The majority of the proceeds of the sale are going to Gordon’s kids, and he’s considering buying a place in Coopers Chase.
While they’re at Gordon’s place, they also ask to look at his photos since he was someone who was around this area in the 1970’s. Gordon used to be friendly with the nuns that lived at Coopers Chase when it used to be a convent. They spot one photo, taken at a Christmas event at the convent, where they recognize Matthew Mackie in one of the photos.
Chapters 94 – 100 (Cyprus and Matthew’s Story)
Soon, Chris in to Cyprus in the hopes of tracking down Gianni. He meets with Costas Gunduz, Gianni’s father, in the interview room of the Central Prison of Nicosia. Joining them is Joe Kyprianou, a Cypriot detective. However, Costas tells him little. Costas ended up in lockup when he was sentenced to two weeks for failing to pay custom duties on something he imported. Then, when he was there he killed a prison guard and now he’s in here for life.
Joe explains that the Gunduz family is still very powerful and in the drug trade, and Gianni could have feasibly gotten to the UK and back without anyone knowing. When Chris is on his way back to England, he runs into Ron and Ibrahim at the airport in Cyprus. They explain the they are here likely for the same reason that Chris is.
Meanwhile, Matthew Mackie meets up with Elizbeth who says she wants to make a confession. At the confessional booth, Elizabeth makes up a story about a man she killed in the 1970’s. She says that he attacked her, and she ended up burying him in the cemetery, since she used to work at the convent which explains the extra set of bones.
As she finishes her story, Matthew says that he knows she’s lying. He knows she didn’t work here. He also admits that he was the one who worked here. Finally, he tells her the truth of what happened, and they head over to the cemetery to see the headstone of Sister Margaret Anne. Soon, the others (Chris, Joyce and Donna) meet them (Elizabeth had instructed them to come find her after a while, just in case thing went poorly with Matthew). When they’re all together, he repeats his story.
Matthew ended up at the convent when he was 25, and they were in need of a priest. He started taking confessions and giving sermons and otherwise acting in the role of a priest. However, he’d eventually met Maggie (Sister Margaret Anne), one of the sisters, and fell in love with her. They would meet and make love. He’d wanted to run away with her, but Maggie was unsure. Then, one day, she killed herself. Afterwards, he found out that she had gotten pregnant. Maggie had confided in one of the other sisters, and that sister had reported her to Sister Mary (the head nun). Maggie was to be sent away the next day, so she killed herself (and her unborn child, Patrick) instead.
After that, it was clear Matthew was involved, so they agreed that he needed to leave. The quietly buried Maggie in the cemetery and Matthew was sent away. When he heard many years later that Sister Mary (the only one who knew about any of this) had passed away, he returned to be closer to Maggie. He wanted to stop Ian from moving the bodies out of respect for Maggie, but Matthew says he didn’t and wouldn’t kill anyone.
Chapters 101 – 104 (Confronting Karen Playfair)
When Joyce, Elizabeth and Ibrahim gather again, they all fill each other in on what happened in the interim. They all seem to agree that Gianni is the most likely suspect for who killed Tony. They chat with Gordon who is considering moving to Coopers Chase. Then, they also get a call from Ron, saying that Jason wants to give them some gifts.
A short while later, the Thursday Murder Club is gathered at Le Pont Noir along with Jason. He also says he and Bobby/Peter spoken to a friend who has confirmed that Gianni was around three days before Tony’s murderer and left the day he died. Jason suspects that Gianni sent him to photograph to show off and let him know that he was the one who did it.
Jason also thanks them for helping him with all of this and gives them various gifts. Then, he claims that he knows who has killed Ian Ventham. He shows them that he has matched with Karen Playfair via Tinder, and he invites her out to a date. At dinner, he starts to question her, and eventually accuses her of killing Ian. He says that she wanted her father to sell and Ian was the roadblock because Gordon refused to sell to Ian.
However, Karen finds his theory ludicrous and laughs at the idea. Jason, in turn, quickly realizes she’s telling the truth. Then they get to talking and end up enjoying their lunch. Eventually they agree to see each other again, even despite him having accused her of murder.
When they meet up again, Karen notices something in a magazine and has an idea of someone who was here in the seventies that is still around now that they should speak to (in the next chapters, we learn that person is John, Penny’s husband).
Chapters 105 – 112 (Questioning Steve Georgiou and Confronting John and Penny)
Chris and Donna soon pay a visit to Steve Georgiou at his gym. They ask him what he knows about Gianni and whether Gianni had demanded that Steve let him stay for a few days in the guest flat above his gym. However, Steve refuses to say anything and hints that he has family that could be in trouble if he said anything about Gianni.
Instead, Steve hands over $5K in euros, with the implication that it’s money that Gianni had given to him (to let them know that their theory was right). Before long, an international arrest warrant is issued for Gianni Gunduz, though Chris is unsure whether the Cypriot authorities will find Gianni.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth goes to talk to John (Penny’s husband) after Ron shows her the magazine photo. It had reminded Karen that John was here in the seventies. He had put Karen’s dog to sleep when she was six. Elizabeth confronts John, and he makes up a story about some guy who wanted an assisted death who he’d put out of his misery.
However, Elizabeth knows that John is lying. Instead, she brings up an old case from 1973 in Rye that Penny had once been a junior detective on. It had involved a burglary where a young woman, Annie Madeley, was stabbed. She was found by her boyfriend, Peter Mercer, and died in his arms.
Despite what the record shows, the Thursday Murder Club, and most likely Penny as well, had suspected that Annie’s boyfriend Peter Mercer was really the one who stabbed her and made it look like a burglary. After that, he disappeared. Penny had never brought the case in for the group to look at. Instead, the Thursday Murder Club had looked into it shortly after Penny was moved into nursing care.
Now, Elizabeth suggests to John that Penny killed Peter Mercer when she realized that he would otherwise get away with it. She asks John when Penny had told her about it. Finally, he admits that when Elizabeth started getting mini-strokes she began confessing things to him, and this murder was one of her last confessions. After the new development was announced, John killed Ian in an attempt to prevent it from going forward since he didn’t want Penny’s crime (murdering Peter Mercer) to be uncovered.
In present day, Elizabeth tells John that she’s going to turn him into the police tomorrow (with the implication that John will likely commit suicide tonight rather that go to prison for murder). Afterwards, as Elizabeth bids farewell to Penny, she mentions she saw John inject something into Penny (with the implication that he gave Penny something that would kill her so she could be laid to rest as well), so she knows that “this is goodbye”.
That night, Chris goes over to Donna’s house where he meets her mother Patrice. As they chat, they get a text from Elizabeth asking to meet with them.
Chapters 113 – 114 (Bogdan’s Confession)
When Chris gets home, he sees that he has an e-mail from “KypriosLegal”. In an e-mail forwarded by Costas Gunduz’s lawyer, Costas Gunzuz writes to Chris saying that he honestly has not seen his son anytime in the last 20 years and that he is looking for his son as well. He asks for Chris’s help in finding Gianni and offers Chris a “great, great” reward if he’s able to help.
After reading this, Chris merely assumes that Costas is lying to try to get him or the Cypriot police off of Gianni’s tail and simply ignores the e-mail.
Back at Elizabeth’s home, Bogdan and Stephen are playing chess together. Stephen (who is not entirely mentally there anymore) starts saying that based on what Elizbeth has told him about the case, he suspects that Bogdan was the one who killed Tony Curran.
After Stephen promises not to tell anyone, Bogdan freely admits that he killed Tony Curran because a long time ago Tony killed his best friend, Kazimir (the taxi driver in the Black Bridge incident). He says that the taxi company was run by Gianni and that Tony was Gianni’s boss. Gianni killed the taxi driver, but only because Tony told him to, and then Gianni blabbed about it afterwards.
Bogdan also admits that he killed Gianni a long time ago. He says Steve also liked Kaz and came along, too. They did the killing at the port since Steve’s cousin worked there. After they killed him and tossed him into the water, they went back to Gianni’s place, packed up some of his stuff and passport, and took Tony’s money which Gianni was holding. Half of it went to Kazimir’s family and the other half went to Steve to start his gym. Steve then flies to Cyprus using Gianni’s passport (to make it look like Gianni fled the country), and then Steve returned using his own passport.
Bogdan then waited a long time before killing Tony. When he installed the security system, he purposely did it wrong. Then he came back and killed him.
In present day, Elizabeth gets home and the men resume their chess playing.
Chapter 115 (The End)
Soon, Penny and John are buried. The newspapers report the story about the murders of Peter Mercer, Ian Ventham and Penny and John’s involvement. As for Tony Curran’s murder, the police are still looking for Gianni, but in her diary, Joyce writes that she suspects that Bogdan was the one who really killed Tony Curran.
Joyce also remembers where she knows the name “Bramley Holdings” from. She says that when Joanna was small, she had stuffed elephant called Bramley. It turns out that after Joyce had showed Ian’s accounts to Joanna, she’d been impressed by the numbers and decided to pitch to her board members that they acquire Ian’s company (which they ended up buying from Gemma after Ian died). So, now Joanna’s company owns Coopers Chase.
Later, Joanna admits that part of the reason she bought Cooopers Chase is because she hadn’t seen Joyce be happy since her father died until Joyce moved there. Also, Joanna says she’ll make a lot of money out of the deal regardless. As a result, the Garden of Eternal Rest is going to stay put and the Woodlands development has been shelved. Joanna says they’ll likely sell it at some point, since that’s what they do, but there’ll be covenants put in place to ensure the cemetery stays as is.
Meanwhile, Bogdan adds “Patrick, 1971” to Margaret’s headstone in the graveyard to mark the passing of Father Mackie’s unborn son. Also, as instructed by Bernard’s suicide note, Joyce takes both Bernard and Asima’s ashes and mixes them together before handing over the ashes to Bernard’s daughter.
The book ends with Elizabeth slipping a note underneath Joyce’s door on a Thursday, which Joyce assumes means there must be more Thursday Murder Club shenanigans in store!
Thank you for this! I read the book slowly over about a year and had forgotten what happened earlier in the book. Very helpful to use this to remind me of all the little details!
Very detailed summary – it really helps to clear the confusion about the many characters and the complicated plot.
Thank you so much!
How did Penny dispose of Peter’s body in the first place. It can’t be correct just to say she ‘his the bones’ it was a body.
How did penny kill Mercer? What method did she apply? How did she move the body?