The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

September 16, 2021

It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

Hurrah! I have been waiting for this book to be released since I finished the final page of The Thursday Murder Club. After far too long a wait, Britain’s second tallest entertainer*, Richard Osman returns with a new novel. Everyone’s favourite, thoroughly incorrigible, pensioners return to cause more well-meaning chaos and, if they can manage it, bring criminals to justice.

Being a retired spy means that Elizabeth has more than a few skeletons in her closet. When one of the most dashing of those skeletons reappears in her life unexpectedly, all hell breaks loose. Violently dispatched corpses are discovered, precious gems have been misplaced, MI5 is decidedly upset and the Mafia are on the way. It’s time for The Thursday Murder Club to be called back into action. Old aged pensioners versus organised crime. The criminals don’t stand a chance.

I never thought I would say this about a crime novel but there is something blissfully whimsical about this book and, by extension, this series. The characters are so well realised. I want to go and meet them all. Elizabeth, Ron and Ibrahim remain a delight but Joyce is my personal favourite. If you get the opportunity, after reading the book, check out her Instagram @GreatJoy69. I strongly suggest doing so. It is the icing on an already perfect cake. As far as the other characters are concerned Bogdan is about as many-layered as you could be without being an onion. He’s certainly a useful fella to have in a tight spot. The plot is more than twisty enough for my taste. Spies and their secrets ensure there is plenty to discover. The world-building is also top-notch. The coastal village of Fairhaven and the nearby retirement village manage to be both idyllic and a hotbed of crime in the same breath. Midsomer Murders has a lot to answer for doesn’t?

Where the novel really excels is the back and forth between the four friends. There is an easy camaraderie that barely conceals the deep bond all the club share. The smallest gestures deftly illustrating how they feel. The bittersweet scenes between Elizabeth and her husband, Stephen, are particularly poignant and well observed. Their interactions manage to be both beautiful and heartbreaking. I think I said in my review of The Thursday Murder Club I was surprised how emotive Osman’s writing is. Turns out this was no fluke. The Man Who Died Twice manages exactly the same feat and makes it look like it is the simplest thing in the world.

In counterpoint to the sad moments peppered throughout the narrative, there are more than enough scenes that will make you smile. I found myself tittering out loud on more than one occasion. An author who raises a titter is a winner in my book.

As an aside, you might recall last year when I read The Thursday Murder Club I described the crime sub-genre where it sits as “British comfortable”. It turns out a term already exists, “cosy crime”. I much prefer mine, but there you go. The public has spoken and who am I to disagree?

Now I must sit here, wallowing in self-pity. I’ve finished The Man Who Died Twice and I am bereft. How long must I wait for the Thursday Murder Club’s third outing? I can guarantee however long it is that will be too long. Richard Osman has more than a modicum of skill when it comes to cosy crime and I can’t wait to find out what mayhem our intrepid sleuths will stumble upon next.

The Man Who Died Twice is published by Viking and is available now. Highly recommended.

My musical recommendation to accompany the novel is the soundtrack to Professor T by Hannes De Maeyer. It manages to be both suitably genteel and also just a little bit exciting. Sounds like the perfect combination to me. I’d imagine Joyce would love it.

*Comedy behemoth, Greg Davies, is an inch taller according to the internet fact fans.

One Comment

  • russell1200 September 21, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    It isn’t coming out until the the 28th in the States. I pre-ordered for my wife, she will be soooo excited!

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