The Oxford Widows Murder Club by Bruce Graham

An absurd, cozy, deeply loving thriller-comedy, The Oxford Widows Murder Club by Bruce Graham proved to be exactly what I had hoped for it: full of hilarity, tender moments of friendship, and ultimately ending with a light and inspiring path forward. Graham takes what could have been a very difficult, heavy story, and imbues it with kind and loving humour. The community of Oxford and the surrounding area are also central to the story, and even the famous Oxford sinkhole plays a part, as a frequent topic of conversation and comparison for the characters. One of the things I like best about reading local literature are these references to places I know – I’m a regular traveller by Oxford, and when I was more dependent on Maritime Bus, regularly enjoyed the trip to the Oxford stop on my way home from university. It’s a treat to read a book which is so thoroughly set in the Maritimes.

“It’s a treat to read a book which is so thoroughly set in the Maritimes.”

Mable is in trouble, at the outset of the book. Her living room is a mess, smeared with blood. And worse yet – her husband, Earl, is dead. A bullet is in his forehead. And she’s the one who shot it. In a panic, Mable ignores the phone calls of her lifelong friend Emma, who comes over and ends up involved in trying to figure out what to do. Before too long, they’ve enlisted the help of Valerie, the secretary to the town’s oldest and most forgetful lawyer, in moving Earl’s body and covering up his murder. But none of the women are used to lying, certainly not like this, and the story begins to get away from them. Not to mention that Mable still hasn’t been able to tell them why on earth she shot Earl to begin with, since by all accounts, they had a perfectly fine marriage. Through a bizarre, tragic, incident, Emma, Valerie and Mable strengthen their relationship, look to the future, and learn a little bit more about themselves and each other.

The novel is not entirely without intrigue, as the women are at best questionably successful with their ruse, causing the local police to follow up with them many many times, and attempt to peel their lies apart. But the focus is on the friendship of the women and the healing they go through, even as Earl’s body is investigated and his funeral is held. This is an easy read and a perfect accompaniment to the beach for some off-beat summer reading. I appreciated the stories of the three women, how they came together, and the thoughtful way Graham treated their pain and trauma from their lives, as well as the ways that the characters treated one another once their pain was revealed to the others. This is a kind and thoughtful novel, and really a very pleasant read.

Bruce Graham is a Nova Scotia writer specializing in historical fiction and comedy. His characters are sharply defined in their stories and settings. Three of his books have been transformed to the stage at theatres in two Canadian provinces. He has also written magazine articles for national publications.

Before he turned to writing, Bruce had a long and distinguished career in broadcasting. He is the 2004 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Radio & Television News Directors Association for his contribution to broadcast journalism. Bruce won the Ohio State Award for what the judges called journalistic excellence. His nightly television commentary, The Final Word, earned him the Atlantic Journalism Award.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Pottersfield Press (July 28 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 238 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1989725899
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1989725894

 -- Website

Alison Manley has ricocheted between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for most of her life. Now in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she is the Cataloguing and Metadata Librarian at Saint Mary's University. Her past life includes a long stint as a hospital librarian on the banks of the mighty Miramichi River. She has an honours BA in political science and English from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University. While she's adamant that her love of reading has nothing to do with her work, her ability to consume large amounts of information very quickly sure is helpful. She is often identified by her very red lipstick, and lives with her partner Brett and cat, Toasted Marshmallow.