Tag Archives: Richard Osman

Review of ‘The Man who Died Twice’ by Richard Osman

Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin for the ARC of this book.

I didn’t think Richard Osman’s first book in his Thursday Murder Club was great, but I thought I’d give the second book a chance because the first book was so popular, I thought maybe I’d missed something. Unfortunately, I found the second book suffered from all the same issues as the first.

Osman writes with some beautiful touches of gentle observational humour which make you smile; he is clearly infatuated with his characters, his characterisation is strong and you get a really good sense of them, especially the old ladies. The problem, however, is the plot. I felt both books lacked a compelling narrative. There is nothing propulsive about the plot, it meanders along and in both books I just didn’t care about the outcome. This really is an issue in a mystery book.

There doesn’t ever feel like there are consequences to any of the events. I think five people are shot dead in this book and their deaths are largely met with a shrug of the shoulders or the other characters feeling it’s jolly good fun to be surrounded by all this death. The heroes of the book commit crimes left, right and centre; framing someone, withholding evidence, stealing evidence, lying to the authorities, purchasing drugs etc. and it seems we are supposed to find this endearing. Why should we care about who has committed one crime, if the people investigating it are perpetually committing other crimes? They are no better than the villains.

Judging by the hype around this book, I am in the minority in being underwhelmed by these books. I’m sure this will continue to be a wildly popular and successful series, I’m just not sure why. It probably has something to do with the excellent marketing. The books are beautiful and very current. The titles are catchy, although the title of this book has absolutely nothing to do with the plot, it’s just a throwaway line from what is essentially the epilogue. I wonder if this series would have been published if it were not written by a celebrity.

Review of ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ by Richard Osman

Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Books for the ARC of this book.

I’m not entirely sure what the make of this book. Despite containing several murders, suicides and drug criminals, it is a very easy, fluffy, cosy, British and just ever so nice crime book. It is set in a retirement community and boils down to 4 OAPs sitting around effectively saying “There’s been a murder, oh how jolly! Would you like another slice of cake while we solve it?”. I think I do prefer a nice cosy crime read like this to the far too prevalent reams of gritty psychological thrillers featuring the abuse/torture of woman and children. However, this chatty, friendly, nice style does make the plot feel a little low-stakes in spite of all the death.

I think you can definitely tell that this is a first novel. The writing manages to be face paced (short chapters, chatty prose) and plodding at the same time. Richard Osman throws in so many red herrings and misdirects that by the end of the book it feels like none of the characters really care that much who has committed the murders, let alone the reader. I think there is something lacking in the set up and resolution of the whodunnits, this is probably because Osman is more interested in his characters than in his plot.

I like Richard Osman and I think his voice comes through very strongly in the book, despite half the entries supposedly being written as a 80-something(?) year old woman’s diary entries. There are lots of witty asides and unnecessary facts added in, probably to the detriment of the narrative but fun for the reader. I feel like Osman has looked at the demographic of his fans, mostly OAPs who watch daytime TV due to his popular TV quiz programmes, and written something specifically to appeal to them in order to sell more books. I’m not sure I find OAPs to be the most compelling protagonists. This is a shame because, according to his author’s note, he was trying to highlight how people in retirement villages all have had interesting worthwhile lives and experiences.

This is the first in a series of books but I’m not sure whether I would bother to read the next one. However, they may improve as Osman gains greater experience as a writer. I can see how it might be nice to follow some of the characters, particularly the police officers, to find out what their future holds. Osman clearly has a great fondness for the characters he has created, so I’m sure he will develop them well over time.

I must add that I absolutely love the cover design for this book. The title is instantly engaging and the font is beautiful. it’s really well done and makes the book seem really appealing. I’m sure it will do really well. It’s probably an ideal comfort read for these troubling times.