‘The Man Who Died Twice’ by Richard Osman
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? (Synopsis courtesy of http://www.Penguin.co.uk)
I’m not sure when I have enjoyed a novel more than I enjoyed Richard Osman’s debut, ‘The Thursday Murder Club’. That story was convoluted, sure, but it nipped along, the characters were charming and there was a frothy light touch like a glass of cooled Pimms on a summer’s afternoon.
What Osman has here managed to do, is navigate the difficult second album. He had left himself with some work to be done: the first book had bodies dropping like ‘The Wire’-era Baltimore, a killer revealed to be a beloved character and now the challenge becomes: do it again. But, you know, better.
Well, I’m delighted to say that he has. Here, Osman takes us inside Elizabeth’s murky past – her role with the Security Services, her rakish ex-husband and the way her history keeps peeking into her present.
There are less characters than in the whirlwind original outing but Douglas is joined by hopeless waitress Poppy, who may not be all she seems, as well local drug Queen pin, Connie Johnson and her ascendancy and a nasty little character called Ryan Baird. This wee hoodlum is, to my mind, one of the few people in Osman’s fiction who I would happily see shot in the face by Elizabeth from point blank range.
‘The Man Who Died Twice’ is a charming romp covering treasure hunts for twenty million pounds worth of diamonds, the exact way to disguise the exact identify of a body and the reason why MI:5 use a safe house in Godalming.
I am well aware that there are readers who dislike Osman’s work because he is famous to begin with. Others dislike the fact he does not write serious Dostoeveskian meditations on the nature of crime. But I find his writing charming, safe and as entertaining as an afternoon cup of tea at your nan’s house and I thank him for it.
Also, I listened to both the original and the sequel in audiobook form read by Lesley Manville. I listened on long car rides alongside a mother who has dementia and doesn’t take that much pleasure in long form stories these days. Both Manville’s performance and Osman’s writing delighted her, amused her and kept her entertained and, for that, they were cheap at twice the price and I shall be ever grateful to them for their work.