The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood: 4****

Cozy mysteries, not everybody’s cup of tea, and I must admit that many of them are a little too syrupy sweet for me, but that is not the case for Robert Thorogood’s first venture into this genre in the book “The Marlow Murder Club.” This is a thoroughly enjoyable and fast reading book in which the police are not made to look like complete idiots, as is the case in most cozy mysteries. Also we’re not looking at a single individual who is smarter at breaking the cases than anybody else. No, this is an interesting book about three ladies who unite to help the police solve not just one, but eventually three murders.

            The leader of this group of ladies is Judith Pitts, a 77-year old retiree who still creates crossword puzzles for newspapers. In addition she also likes to swim naked in the Thames! And it’s one night while she is skinny dipping that she hears a gunshot emanating from the other side of the river. What to do? She tries to get to the other side but then realizes she has no clothing so she swims back to her house quickly dresses and punts her way across the river to discover that the gentleman who lives there has, in fact, been shot by a bullet to the middle of the head. Eventually the police get involved but there seem to be no real clues. Judith thinks the decedent was a decent gentleman from the dealing she has had with him, and only later does she find out that he is not who she thinks he is but rather is a scoundrel who is an art expert and who has cheated many people out of valuable pieces of art which he purchases for a low price and then resells at a drastically higher value. But who would want to kill him? It appears that there is a suspect who owns the local Marlow Auction House, but he has a solid alibi for the time of the shooting. The police investigate, however they can find nothing to link that gentleman to the murder, and neither can Judith. Eventually Judith stumbles upon two other ladies who will become part of this murder club.

            The first join is a divorced dog walker named Susie and then later on the vicars wife Becks. These are completely different women from Judith with each having their own strengths, weaknesses, and knowledge. And that’s what’s going to be necessary since out of the blue a local Muslim taxi driver has been murdered, once again shot in the middle of the head. And before you know it a former UK silver medalist rowing champion is also murdered in the same manner. Everyone they talk to has rock solid alibis. The police are baffled, the ladies are baffled and that’s what makes this book different from so many others. These ladies are just as stumped as the police, they don’t have any sudden insights that turn out to be correct, they don’t treat the investigating police officer as if she’s a dope, but rather everybody joins together to try to solve these three murders.

            This is a book that is filled with twists and turns and has an ending that is very well done and was a complete surprise to me. And I mentioned this is the first book by Mr. Thorogood in what appears to be a series of cozy mysteries, with his next book being due out in approximately November of 2022. This is an enjoyable group of ladies, and again they’re not smarter than the police but want to aid the police as best they can. I was impressed with the plot, the characters and the overall pacing of the book. Maybe the British just do cozy mysteries better than anyone else, I’m not sure, but the Marlowe murder club is a book that I heartily recommend and I think one and all will be on the edge of their seats until the final page!

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