Artis-Ann , Features Writer
‘Back In Time for Eggheads’: The Man Who Died Twice By Richard Osman
I have decided to exercise restraint, a bit like I try to do with chocolate, and not read all of Richard Osman’s books at once. It would be too much of a good thing and more importantly, they make a delightful diversion from some of the darker novels I find myself drawn to.
Their thirst for justice is contagious and their dogged pursuit of the truth is an example to us all
In The Man Who Died Twice
, Osman’s second novel, The Thursday Murder Club
members are in fine form again, each bringing their unique talents into play once more – though less so Ibrahim who has a good reason for not joining in the action quite as much this time. Septuagenarians, Elizabeth (ex-secret service), Joyce (an unshockable former nurse), Ron (former union agitator), and Ibrahim (retired psychiatrist) are not only firm friends, but also delightful company for the reader. Their thirst for justice is contagious and their dogged pursuit of the truth is an example to us all – and this time around, we learn a little more about each of them. They may be old people but like all old people, are much deeper and more complicated than they appear. Once more, Chris and Donna, their friends on the force, are more than happy to be involved, and Bogdan, too, makes a very welcome return. Even Stephen, Elizabeth’s gentle husband, most of the time seemingly lost in a world of his own making – except during a game of chess - plays his part.
... The Thursday Murder Club members are in fine form again, each bringing their unique talents into play once more,
Osman’s humour continues, as in his first novel, with whimsical wit and a sensitive observation of human nature. In this second novel, however, he lets us get closer to his characters; there is a greater depth to them as we see them not only as elderly sleuths with a bit of a past, but as people with fears and dreams who are facing their own mortality. Once again, Joyce’s diary, almost a stream of consciousness, is a delight to read, raising more than just a smile or a chuckle. Who but Osman could link a warlord, a trafficker and an Ocado delivery (and not even a suspect one at that) into one sentence? Ron should not be allowed to dunk digestive biscuits into red wine (sacrilege) - but he does! I should not be reminded that six miles on an exercise bike only equals half a Twix! But I am. And why do you buy spinach? “To put on top of your basket in case you bump into anyone you know”, apparently. The gospel according to Chris Hunt. These touches are lifelike, and the reader can relate to such snippets which are thrown in, apparently with little reason – but they make reading joyous and the characters, people with whom we can identify.
There is also a poignancy throughout this novel, however, which is more thought-provoking than Osman’s first outing. It’s gentle but unmissable. There is a sense of time running out and of losing loved ones, of age making you feel more vulnerable. The power of friendship (and friendship bracelets) should never be underestimated.
Osman’s humour continues, as in his first novel, with whimsical wit and a sensitive observation of human nature
The plot begins with a letter, then there’s a handsome ex-husband, a bag of stolen diamonds, an American mafia boss, a local villain or two, a mugging (which Ryan Baird will seriously regret), plenty of drugs in evidence - oh and the bodies start to pile up. Ex-wives getting together is never a good idea and trusting two seemingly innocuous old ladies isn’t either, not when they are members of The Thursday Murder Club
: ”A silly old spy and her friend looking for twenty million pounds’ worth of diamonds, stolen from the New York mafia”. There’s a puzzle which needs to be solved and while Elizabeth scratches her head, the reader has a chance to solve it, too. The clues are there if you spot them. Dead drops, locker keys and yet another letter, all contribute to the conundrum.
In this second novel, however, he lets us get closer to his characters
Justice, that’s what counts; criminals getting their just desserts. It’s a highly satisfactory ending although not, perhaps, the one you necessarily expect. Osman has certainly done it again and I already look forward to treating myself to the next encounter with Elizabeth et al.
The Man Who Died Twice is published by Penguin