In 2008, Robert Thorogood had an idea for a TV show about a fish-out-of-water London detective being sent to the Caribbean to solve a murder.

That went on to become the TV mega-hit Death in Paradise, which is now heading into its 14th season and remains one of the most-watched shows on the BBC.

After that, Thorogood wrote a series of three books, focusing on said London detective DI Richard Poole, before turning his attention in 2021 to a new murder mystery series, The Marlow Murder Club.

Slotting nicely into the cozy crime genre, The Marlow Murder Club brings to three unlikely friends who find themselves investigating a murder in their sleepy and otherwise peaceful village.

The novel was an instant hit and has since prompted two more books in the series, but before we get to them, let’s take a look at where it all began…

The Plot

Judith Potts is seventy-seven years old and, living on her own in an old mansion outside the village of Marlow is blissfully happy.

She spends her time setting crosswords and loves nothing more than a naked swim in the River Thames that runs along the bottom of her garden.

With nobody to tell her what to do and a bottle of good whiskey by her side, life is good.

That is until, when out swimming, she hears a gunshot coming from a neighbours house. Convinced Stefan Dunwoody has been murdered; she duly calls the police, who, after a cursory glance around the property, find nothing of interest and more or less gaslight her into thinking that nothing happened.

But Judith knows better and, after searching herself, finds her neighbours body and decides that the police are a tad incompetent and she’ll solve it herself.

That’s when the lives of Judith, Suzie, a dog-walker, and Becks, the local vicar’s wife, cross paths and form a friendship that will bind them together in search of the truth.

But with another death on the horizon and a potential serial killer among them, can they put the pieces of the puzzle together before they find themselves in the crosshairs of a murderer?

Who Are The Characters?

The three main characters in The Marlow Murder Club are Judith Potts, Suzie Harris, and Becks Starling.

As mentioned above, Judith is the oldest, lives by herself, and has a knack for solving puzzles.

Suzie Harris comes into play when the man for whom she is dog-sitting turns up dead, which is how she meets Judith. She is a fun, outgoing single mother who takes care of far too many dogs.

Becks Starling is the underappreciated wife of the local vicar whose family seems to only view her as a mother and wife with no discernible life or personality beyond taking care of them.

There is also the beleaguered DS Tanika Malik, who is in charge of the case and, after initially dismissing the women as meddlers, invites them in to help her solve the case.

So we have four women of various ages with entirely different personalities who bond and ultimately function as a well-oiled machine.

Is It Any Good?

All good mystery books have to have a plot that at least lets the reader pretend they can play along.

They also need to have relatable and likable characters in which we want to invest our time.

The plot is paramount, and by the time you finish the book, there should be a sense of satisfaction that you either guessed the killer or at least got an ending that ties the whole thing up with a nice red bow.

So how does The Marlow Murder Club fair against those precursors? I would say Robert Thorogood is working on a 50/50 outcome, and here’s why.

The characters are great. All four women bring something different to the table, so the balance is excellent.

However, the male supporting characters are a little hard done by, with almost none displaying any redeeming features whatsoever.

Then we move on to the plot, which becomes a little convoluted as the bodies pile up leaving us readers scratching our heads as to what is going on.

As for the ending…it was okay. The killer was revealed, everybody breathed a sigh of relief, and the characters all walked away relatively unscathed.

What I will say is that despite these little annoyances, it is still a fun book to read, and I happily bought the second in the series, Death Comes to Marlow when it was published.

Incidentally, with all of the groundwork laid in the first book, I thought the second was a better read in terms of the plot and whodunnit.

Overall, the book series is a welcome addition to the cozy crime genre, and I’m looking forward to the third book, The Queen of Poisons.

The TV Series

Of course, I watched the adaptation when it was released in 2024, and overall, it gets the thumbs up.

Though I would say that it is a very faithful adaptation of the book so if that’s fresh in your memory, you won’t get anything new out of the TV series.

The casting is spot on, with Samantha Bond as Judith Potts, Jo Martin as Suzie Harris, Cara Horgan as Becks Starling, and Natalie Dew as DS Tanika Malik.

I do think that calling it ‘a series’ is stretching the truth a bit, given that it is only two episodes with a run time of about 50 minutes each, but overall, it was great to see the characters brought to life on the small screen.

There will be a second series, which is scheduled to be released in early 2025, and it will be based on the second book, Death Comes to Marlow, which is a locked-room mystery.

So, at least there’s that to look forward to!

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