Book – The Man Who Died Twice
Author – Richard Osman
Year – 2021
Pages – 423
Genre – Crime (A Nice Little Murder)
Series – The Thursday Murder Club
Sometimes, writing reviews of these books are tricky. There’s a few reasons for this. The first is that I am super spoiler-phobic. I try my absolute best to make sure I don’t give anything away, and as a result I realise that a lot of my reviews are simply a brief statement about what kind of book it is, followed by me saying that I liked it or not. The second is making them interesting. To my shame, I don’t think this is one that I let concern me too much. I can see my site analytics. I know that there are only half a dozen or so who read them, and this is much more an exercise in me remembering books I have read, and giving a glimpse inside them for my friends. Maybe I should rethink that and get a bigger following, but there we are. The third reason is the ratings. As asinine a sentence as this might be, I generally like things. I enjoy most films I watch, rarely leave the theatre dissatisfied and tend towards enjoying the books I read. This is not to say I cannot be discerning, but when it is for pleasure, I try and avoid being super analytical. Which is admittedly not the best trait for someone writing a book review blog…
All of which brings me on to the second of Richard Osman’s novels, The Man Who Died Twice. Bob commented on the last book in the series pointing out that Osman is hardly Joyce in his writing. A very fair observation, and one that carries over to this book. But I really, really liked it anyway.
We are back with our gang of elderly armchair detectives for this book. This time however, Elizabeth is confronted with a figure from the past when her ex-husband arrives on the scene needing protection. Ibrahim is enjoying the newfound verve he has to explore and feel young again, until a chance encounter with some less than pleasant local youths. Ron is chomping at the bit to be involved in more intrigue and excitement. And Joyce wants a dog.
What follows is the absolute same stuff as we were treated to in the first book. Our old people being utterly unflappable at the murder count being racked up. Little clues being left, some that we pick up on straight away, and some that are simply red herrings. Just enough twists and turns to make it a rattling read, but not enough to get confused in itself. And the occasional laugh out loud line – Joyce picking her Instagram handle being a highlight for me. I am also incredibly pleased to see a cast of characters being fleshed out already, with the potential for callbacks as the series progresses – something that seems a certainty now that Osman has left his role in Pointless.
I will address the issues with it though. The stakes all feel very low. You are not only positive that all of our main characters are going to make it through intact, but also absolutely no attempt is made to make you think otherwise. The page turning nature of the book is because of interest, and never really tension. This is probably something that should be more prevalent in a crime book such as this. It is also not the most flummoxing of mysteries. I am incredibly bad at working out whodunnit – I tell myself that this is due to me just getting absorbed in the story instead of trying to work out the answers to the mystery, but truth be told, I just suck at it – but even I managed to solve several different parts of the story before they were unveiled. And here I should probably agree with Bob about the writing. It is incredibly readable, but by no means incredible. His work has gone into the characters first and foremost.
So if you are looking for a book to challenge you, then this is not the one. But if you want a book that you can pick up and read cover to cover in a day (our internet has been down…) then you could do much worse than this book. And I am going to break with tradition and give it a 7.5 now as well.