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If you're a fan of the less-gruesome British murder mysteries, you've probably read or at least HEARD of Richard Osman's Thursday Murder Club series. The books follow a group of talented, crime-solving residents in a retirement community in rural southern England – and while they're not everyone's cup of tea, we think they're delightful.
If you agree, chances are good you'd like to find something similar to read. After all, only two books have been released in the series (with the next one arriving in autumn 2022) – and it doesn't take long to make it through just two books.
In this post, we'll take a look at some other gentle British mysteries that feature some combination of the things you find in Osman's series – a contemporary mystery, older protagonists, quirky and life-like characters, or a rural British setting. Not every story or series features all those things, but they all have at least a couple of similar traits.
9 Charming Mystery Novels Like Richard Osman's Thursday Murder Club Books
The Marlow Murder Club
If you're a fan of British TV mysteries, you might be familiar with Robert Thorogood. He's the creator of the popular, long-running series Death in Paradise. More recently, he's been working on the Marlow Murder Club series, the first of which is now available. A second book, Death Comes to Marlow, will be released in 2023.
The Marlow Murder Club follows the crime-solving adventures of an eccentric seventysomething in the town of Marlow, England. She lives in an inherited, slightly disheveled mansion on the Thames, setting crossword puzzles for The Times to help fill her time. When one of her neighbours is murdered, she teams up with a dogwalker and the wife of the local vicar to get to the bottom of things.
Though only one book has been released so far, a second is on the way. Personally, I find it hard to read without picturing Miriam Margolyes in the role of Judith – but I expect Dawn French would also fill the role beautifully, should it ever make it onto the screen.
The Bingo Hall Detectives
Out of work journalist and living in a home that includes his overbearing mother-in-law, Jason Brazel's life hasn't turned out like he expected. It's all rather dull (and more than a little tedious) until it comes to their attention there's a killer on the loose in the area.
When one of mother-in-law Amita's bingo friends is found dead outside her crumbling Lake District home, she immediately feels there's more to the story. The police don't put much stock in her opinions, so she'll have to rally her bingo friends to get to the bottom of it.
A Spoonful of Murder
Each Thursday, a group of retired teachers meet in the cafe at their local garden centre. One week, they bump into a former colleague, Topsy – and within the week, Topsy is dead.
The group suspects foul play, but they'll have to prove it if they want to be taken seriously. Note: There are several books with this title, so if you use your local library, make sure you're getting the one by JM Hall. We've provided direct retail links below for convenience.
A Murder of Crows
Dr. Nell Ward is neither a detective nor a murderer. She's an ecologist. Unfortunately, she'll have to learn something about being a detective if she wants to prove she's not a murderer.
While working on the grounds of a nearby manor house, she overhears something strange and immediately writes it off in spite of the eerie feeling she gets. Later, she learns she was on site during a murder – and she's now the prime suspect. Her ecology training has given her excellent skills of observation, but will it be enough to help her clear her name?
This one won't be for everyone, and that's because it's an epistolary novel (a book written in the form of letters, texts, emails, and other documents). Still, it's a unique book that revolves around a mystery in a small community.
When a local theatre group is in the midst of rehearsals for a new production, tragedy strikes. The director's granddaughter has been diagnosed with cancer, and she needs money so she can get access to an experimental treatment. Though most in the group are happy to rally around and fundraise, some disagree, arguing their are ulterior motives in play, and that the treatment isn't actually effective.
Tension grows, and then explodes at a dress rehearsal. The next day, a dead body is found – and lawyers will have to sift through all the materials (emails, messages, letters, and so on) to unmask the killer.
Murder Before Evensong
A hit in the UK, this one has barely been noticed in the US (mostly because it doesn't appear to be fully distributed here – just import copies from third-party sellers). The story follows Canon Daniel Clement, the Rector of Champton. He lives with his widowed mother and two dachshunds, and life is pretty calm – until he announces plans to add a lavatory to the church.
Strangely, this divides the congregation, leading to the discovery of a body in the back of the church. In the aftermath, Daniel will have to repair his community and find the killer.
Actress and novelist Dawn French said of the book, “I've been waiting for a novel with vicars, rude old ladies, murder, and sausage dogs.”
The Cornish Wedding Murder
The first of the Nosey Parker mysteries, this novel begins after Jodie ‘Nosey' Parker quits her job at the Met to move back home to Cornwall, raise her daughter in a safe place, and open a catering company. Unfortunately, her very first job has her catering for her ex-boyfriend's wedding, and it only gets worse from there.
The bride vanishes, and Jodie finds herself pulled into the investigation. Perhaps the quiet life wasn't quite as peaceful and she remembered it…
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The Windsor Knot
This fun series sees Queen Elizabeth II indulging her Miss Marple fantasies after a Russian pianist is strangled in a Windsor Castle bedroom. She enlists the help of her Assistant Private Secretary, Rozie Oshodi, to ensure she's able to carry out her duties and hide her detecting activities.
Whether it's an accurate portrayal of QEII's personality and interests, who knows? It's an enjoyable read with a creative angle, and that alone makes it worth checking out.
The Dinner Lady Detectives
In the lovely town of Dewstow, Margery and Clementine enjoy a quiet life working as dinner ladies at the Summerview secondary school. They're in the home stretch before retirement when everything changes.
Their kitchen manager has been found dead in the school's walk-in freezer, and the police are sure it was just a tragic accident. As it so often goes in these types of mysteries, the two ladies are certain there's more to it. The closer they get to the truth, the more danger they're in…