Review: The Man Who Died Twice, by Richard Osman
So, perhaps unexpectedly, I much preferred the second book in the Thursday Murder Club series than I did the first - I think Richard Osman has vastly improved as a novelist between that book and this one, and so I found this entry a much more enjoyable read and am now very much looking forward to the next book.
The main plot of the novel is very over the top and silly. Elizabeth, one of the four central characters of the Thursday Murder Club, is a former Intelligence Service officer (it's either MI5 or MI6, it's kept deliberately vague by all characters involved) and gets contacted by her ex-husband, who has stolen diamonds from an international money launderer and fence (I'm not going to explain the business model of Martin Lomax; honestly, you should just read the book) and now has the money launderer, the New York mafia, and the Colombian cartels on his back. The diamonds are worth £20 million, and he and his handler are placed in a safe house in the retirement village that Elizabeth and the rest of the Thursday Murder Clubbers live in, and everything kind of spirals from there.
Everything that was good about the first book is present here - the feel-good factor of the four central characters and their friendship; the shifting POV chapters that mean we get fully-realised participations from the full cast; and the easy fun of the mystery. This is a book you can enjoy without having to think too much, and there is something very enjoyable about the complete and total suspension of disbelief required to enjoy the bonkers conversations between the mafia dons and the members of MI5.
I also think Osman massively improved as a storyteller between this book and the previous book - the pacing of the mystery is better, the subplots are more relevant and tie in more fully, and the full cast of characters is more fully integrated into the story, which makes it feel more like a proper ensemble than a slightly patchy sitcom.
Basically I just highly recommend this as fun, easy escapist mystery fare - and you don't need to read the first book if you don't want to, it just gives you a bit of backstory on the relationships between each of the characters and the context of the Thursday Murder Club.
Bring on book 3!