Every time I browse the Waterstones website I stumble across another celebrity who has written a book. I blame Richard Osman. I understand that it’s not actually down to him but his success as a writer hasn’t helped. It’s as if publishers have finally realised that star power is a thing. Part of me is excited that people I like are writing books for me to read. The rest of me is slightly sad that these people are handed massive deals when other writers aren’t given a chance. After all, it doesn’t always work out. I’ve read plenty of celebrity novels that just fell flat.
I enjoy Richard Osman’s novels. I think the characters are great and they’re absolutely charming. What I didn’t realise until I read this one is just how forgettable the stories actually are. It’s not been that long since I read the second book but I couldn’t remember a thing about it. It was a bit of a shame because so many of the events and characters are mentioned here. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to remember it to understand the new one but it would help with some of the references.
It doesn’t bode well for the next book that we are introduced to so many new characters. Richard Osman has clearly been taking advice from the guys at Stranger Things when it comes to new faces. There are a lot of new people here and they’re a bit hit and miss. The extra people also mean that some of the original characters don’t get as much face time. Certainly, Chris and Donna don’t have a lot to do and it’s a shame. I always enjoyed their interactions with the Thursday Murder Club members.
It’s not just the non-members that get short shrift here. Ron in particular seems to be sidelined in favour of the other members. Yes, he gets a storyline of sorts but it’s not as engaging. The third instalment of the book is pretty much focused on Elizabeth. Even Joyce doesn’t seem to be as strong a presence this time around. It might just be me but it felt as though there weren’t as many club meetings. They were too separate in this book which meant it didn’t have the same feel as the previous ones. It just didn’t have the same heart as the previous ones. Joyce’s optimism and puppy dog excitability was missing.
It felt as though Osman was trying to be a bit more serious this time around. There were more gangsters and less silliness. Something that is quite disappointing because these books worked so well as cosy crimes. Taking some of that cosiness away means the story has fewer places to hide. I’ve never felt that the actual plots of these books were their strongest points but I found this one easier to figure out. Although, I don’t think that that’s because of the intricate plotting. I’m just too cynical when reading contemporary crime fiction and never trust anybody.
Richard Osman isn’t a terrible writer and this is still enjoyable. It’s just not quite as enjoyable as the previous instalments. Maybe the template is starting to wear thin? Maybe it’s trying to do too much? Whatever the reason, the third book in The Thursday Murder Club series didn’t leave me feeling as warm and fuzzy as the previous 2.