The Man Who Died Twice – Richard Osman

‘I was talking to a woman in Ruskin Court and she said she’s on a diet,’ says Joyce, finishing her glass of wine. ‘She’s eighty-two!’

Phew – I can confirm that this is just as marvellous as the first one – in fact, I think it’s even better. The Thursday Murder Club are back, and Joyce has knitted everyone friendship bracelets. This time, the characters find themselves operating outside the relative calm of Coopers Chase, clashing with shady figures from Fairhaven’s underworld and the mafia. Naturally, this lends itself perfectly to comedy gold – Joyce has some of the best lines again, and plenty of wine is drunk.

By now, the four main characters are so well-established that Osman’s able to flesh out the lives and loves of the others. It’s good to see Chris and Donna brought back into play, and Bogdan’s role is stepped up nicely – the scene at the pier is brilliant – so that the pace of the plot is slightly quicker. And when you’ve got stolen diamonds, missing spies, and stacks of hard drugs in play, this is obviously necessary. I laughed aloud a lot, but I was also utterly gripped by the plot twists this time. Bringing Elizabeth’s professional and personal history into sharp focus allows for a heightened sense of intrigue that was perhaps missing a little from the first novel. This one also contains the strong sense of poignancy of the first – age doesn’t come by itself, as my mum says – and the final chapter was read with a lump firmly lodged in my throat. I’ll say no more, other than to say – treat yourself and get this book. It’s excellent.

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