Book review: The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

Sunday, October 10, 2021 Permalink

I ADORED The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, released in 2020. I loved the comfort and familiarity of his characters and writing.

The Man Who Died Twice is the second in the series but it doesn’t matter if you’ve not read the first. Other than having met the characters before, there’s no backstory really required to pick things up with the residents of Coopers Chase community known as the Thursday Murder Club… a quartet that revisits cold cases from the comfort of the restaurant of their retirement village, usually with a few bottles of wine to lubricate their minds.

Book review: The Man Who Died Twice by Richard OsmanThe Man Who Died Twice
by Richard Osman
Series: Thursday Murder Club #2
Published by Viking
on 16/09/2021
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Crime Fiction, Humour
ISBN: 0241425433
Pages: 336

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?

The moment I started reading I was reminded why I loved the first book. The characters (well, the way they’re written) are engaging and addictive. It was as if I was joining old friends and again soon in their thrall.

The opening is wonderful – resonant of the book itself – offering the perfect blend of levity and intrigue.

Again it unfolds from a few points of view, giving us insight into all of the characters, but it’s Joyce’s diary entries and stream of consciousness blithering that delights me enormously. I was staying at my mother’s while reading this and she called out at one point to ask what I was sniggering about. I tried to explain the lack of synchronicity in Joyce’s thought processes as she jumps from discussing life-threatening circumstances to pondering the friendship bracelets she’s making.

I can’t remember if it was the case with the first book but we get two mysteries for the price of one here. I usually hate parallel plots that ‘magically’ combine through some kind of coincidence but here it’s the oldies who bring the two together. One involves an attack on one of the club members and, though there’s obviously a focus on revenge punishing the perpetrator, Osman also considers the implications such an attack has… even on someone whose background means they’re usually quite resilient.

The other case involves Elizabeth’s former MI5 colleague who comes to her for help. Their history is a complicated one and the Thursday Murder Club is suddenly thrust into the world of money launderers, drug dealers, mobsters and assassins.

Interestingly I cannot remember the case/s featured in the first book, but many of the players pop up again, including a local Polish construction worker and police officers who became quite smitten with our oldies.

I actually suspect (in a year’s time when the next book is released) I might not remember the cases here but I know I will remember the warmth and sense of belonging I got from the characters Osman offers and his intricate balance between humour and deep insight. The latter often coming out of the blue.

As a 50-something singleton who recently wrote about childlessness I cried when I read this…

Ibrahim would have made a wonderful father, a wonderful grandfather, too. But it wasn’t to be, like so much else in his life. You silly old man, he thinks, you made the biggest mistake of them all. You forgot to live, you just hid away, safe and sound.

What good has it done him, though? Those decisions he had been too cautious to make? The loves he had been too timid to pursue. Ibrahim thinks of the many lives he has missed, somewhere along the way. p 28

And when 77 year old Joyce has been dreaming about her husband…

When I woke up, and realized Gerry had gone, my heart broke once again, and I sobbed and sobbed. I imagine if you could hear all the morning tears in this place it would sound like a birdsong. p 21

And this…

What if pretending to enjoy life is the same as actually enjoying it? p 149

Wham! He throws in these very heavy themes around regret, grief, loss and loneliness. He doesn’t weigh the book down with them however; they often appear from nowhere to break our hearts and are then gone again, lost amidst the chaos of our foursome and their hangers-on.

And finally, I should mention – and I’m not sure if it’s in deference to the potential readership (as all of our four leads are 70-80+ year olds) – this book has fabulously large print.

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman was published in Australia by Penguin (Viking) and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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