Book Review – The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

books, reviews

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Recently I did a survey for a well known publisher and one of the final questions was “which celebrity would you like to see publish a book?” A question which sums up the world of publishing. It’s not about the writing or the story. It’s about the personality. Publishing houses will give a contract to every famous person who wants to write because they know people will buy them. Even though I love Richard Osman, I wasn’t convinced that his debut novel would be worth bothering with. He was just another famous name being given the chance to write a book because they knew it would sell. Though I had my issues with the first book, I actually enjoyed it and couldn’t wait to see what Richard Osman came up with next.

To say that Richard Osman’s debut novel was a runaway success is something of an understatement. The television personality used his talents to write something fun and engaging. It might not have been the most original or complex crime novel, The Thursday Murder Club was enjoyable. I do think that the positive response to the novel went a bit far. It was good but not the 5* book everyone would have you believe. Osman’s skill lies in his characters. The reason that the first book made such an impact was the cast of septuagenarian detectives and their friendship.

Something that is still true of the second book. I’d say that narrative and story aren’t really the point of these novels. A good thing because, really, it’s not that different from the first book. Plus, I’d say it’s even easier to solve than the previous mystery. It’s obvious from pretty early what’s going on and who is responsible. So why read it? Well, that’s simple. The 6 friends who make up the Thursday Murder Club are a joy to spend time with. They’re funny and the way they act with each other is brilliant. Osman might not have created a memorable story but he has certainly written a bunch of memorable characters.

Although, despite my criticism, I do think this is a better-crafted story than the first book. In that, Osman tried to do too much and combine a bunch of different plots. This time, he has made things simpler and it’s much more effective. Instead of several mysteries, this deals with one. When someone from Elizabeth’s past turns up, she gets her friends on board to help him. It’s not long before people start turning up dead and the OAPs have to figure out what’s going on. This is a story of murder, intrigue and stolen diamonds. Can Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim strike lucky a second time?

I mean, it won’t be a major surprise to discover that they do but, as I said, it’s not really about the story. This is cosy crime at its cosiest. The characters get more development than they did in the first novel and we get some much-needed backstory. Elizabeth is clearly one of the strongest characters and it’s wonderful to get an insight into her history. However, it is Joyce that is the most memorable and fun character. She gets the funniest lines and is generally just wonderful to be around.

Though I still won’t say that Richard Osman is a world-class crime writer but he is someone who writes books to enjoy. Reading this was such a pleasant experience that I didn’t really care that the twist was so obviously signposted. It also helps that this is a fast-paced novel, so you get to the end without really noticing. This book was never meant to be the greatest book ever written. It was always meant to be fun. Osman isn’t a terrible writer and understands how to create interesting characters. He’s like Agatha Christie but without the skill at writing ingenious twists. And, let’s be honest, even Agatha had her fair share of misses. This is a fine book and one that is worth reading.

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