Thursday Murder Club Mystery #2
Publisher: Penguin Random House
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?
As soon as I finished The Thursday Murder Club—a book I didn’t write a detailed review for, for some unknown reason— I wanted to pick up this sequel. Unfortunately for me I had to wait about nine months but, now that I’ve finished The Man Who Died Twice I can say it was well worth the wait.
Here is the little I did write about The Thursday Murder Club:
This book was a revelation. I'm not sure what I expected, besides a mystery, but it wasn't this complex, charming, funny, touching, and enthralling story.
To be honest, I could simply repeat those two sentences and leave it there. The first book was indeed a revelation and I have to admit I was concerned that maybe the sequel wouldn’t live up to expectations. Fortunately, I worried about nothing. The Man Who Died Twice is at least as complex, charming, funny, touching, and enthralling as The Thursday Murder Club was.
Of course, at first glance, neither of these stories should work. For starters, it is impossible to classify these books precisely. Part cosy mystery, part crime caper, part suspense, and featuring spies, it is remarkable that not only do these stories work, they do so exceptionally well.
Of course, there are far more explanations as to why they do work so brilliantly, such as the fantastic cast of characters. It would be hard to find four people as unlike each other as Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron but it is exactly the differences between them that make them so good together. The host of secondary characters, both those who return and those only present in one of the stories, are as distinctive, original, and yet very recognisable as the four protagonists. The mysteries, while very well and cleverly plotted, lean toward being over the top but somehow manage to stay both believable and fascinating.
Away from the mystery and all the mayhem resulting from it, there is this deep and warm humanity to these stories. As much as they are mysteries, they are also stories about friendship and tolerance. Without ever getting sentimental, they show the fragility that comes with getting older. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron are all matter of fact about where they are in their lives. They're getting on with it. But between the lines and without ever getting sloppy you can read the fear, the insecurities, the loneliness, and the frustration.
I can’t help feeling that Richard Osman must like people and not only observes those around him but also really sees and understands them.
I can’t imagine anybody reading these books and not getting drawn in. As much as I want to avoid ever having to live in a retirement home or village, these stories almost managed to convince me it might be fun. And, if my accommodation came with the promise of mysteries and a group of friends like the foursome in these books to help me solve them, I might yet be persuaded. 😊
Finally, I want to say something about the title. But I can’t. So I’ll restrict myself to two words: utter genius.