CriminOlly thinks: More of the same from the Thursday Murder Club. An amusingly told cosy mystery that feels destined for Sunday evening TV. 3/5
Title: The Man Who Died Twice | Author: Richard Osman | Series: Thursday Murder Club #2 | Publisher: Penguin | Pages: 336 | Publication date: 16th September 2021 | Source: Publisher | Content warnings: Yes | Tolerance warning: No
Put simply, if you enjoyed Richard Osman’s ‘The Thursday Murder Club’, you’ll like this sequel just as much. If, like me, you thought it lacked something, you’ll probably think that ‘The Man Who Died Twice’ does too. It has all the strengths and weaknesses of the first book. It’s very funny, kind of sweet and reasonably mysterious. Given the huge success of the first one (millions of sales and film rights sold to Spielberg), it’s probably no surprise that Osman hasn’t changed the formula too much.
‘The Man Who Died Twice’ sees the four ageing amateur sleuths (Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron) return. They’re joined again by their friendly local police detective Chris Hudson and his sidekick PC Donna De Freitas, and by Polish builder Bogdan who proves again to be a good man to have in a pinch. The mystery this time involves someone from ex-spy Elizabeth’s past, £20 million in stolen diamonds, a ruthless but slightly dull international arms dealer and the mafia.
The plot is fun, if a bit implausible, with at least one of its twists fairly predictable. The denouement is entertaining though, and Osman does a good job of tying multiple strands together in the finale. The comedy is laugh out loud funny in place, but wears a bit thin in others. This is particularly true of the sections from Joyce’s diary, which often feel like they’re slowing the plot down too much.
The characters continue to be the real draw here, and their development from the first book is well handled. Despite the silliness of it all, they’re convincing in their own right and very likeable. While they never really seem to be in any great danger, it is hard not to care what happens to them.
Amazingly, for a book that must have had a lot of focus from the publisher, there are a couple of mistakes that should have been picked up. Infra Red rather than Ultra Violet light is used to find a hidden message and at one point a character forgets someone’s name despite stalking them on Facebook in the previous paragraph. Not big issues, but surprising nevertheless.
Overall this is a fun read. It’s light, amusing and consistently entertaining. It might not be one for die hard crime buffs, but as a palate cleanser between more serious reads it has a lot to recommend it.
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?
Content Warning: Dementia
Tolerance Warning: All good