The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

It’s a return to Cooper’s Chase in Osman’s follow up to The Thursday Murder Club. 😀 And, straight away, everyone’s favourite group of septuagenarians are contemplating why someone would go on a diet at 82, with Ron wise-cracking that it’s because Zimmer frames make your legs look fat.

The peace doesn’t last long as Elizabeth’s past catches up with her in the form of her ex-husband and fellow former spy, Douglas. Arriving in the retirement village with $20million worth of stolen diamonds and the mafia on his tail, Douglas turns to Elizabeth for help. Elizabeth, in turn, needs the help of her friends as murder, crime, and chaos ensues.

As with the first book, Elizabeth and Joyce remain the stars of the show, but the fact that there are fewer characters in the sequel left more room to connect to other returners. In particular, I found the friendship between the chatty, hot-headed Ron and the more reserved, cautious Ibrahim very touching. Another highlight was Bogdan’s chess games with Elizabeth’s husband, Stephen, who is suffering from dementia.

There’s a lot of humour in the way our heroes react to the book’s events. For example, when Joyce, pondering whether a job that sometimes required blowing a man’s head off would suit her, determines that “you never know”, she never thought she’d like dark chocolate, after all. Or when Bogdan and Elizabeth casually organise a large cocaine pick-up while Bogdan is patiently waiting for Stephen’s next move on the chess board. Or when Ibrahim and Ron’s young grandson bond while reviewing security footage, ending with Ibrahim expressing more concern about the boy’s relationship with his father than the actual murder they’re investigating.

Along with the humour, there are heartbreakingly human moments ranging from the guilt of a child who is impatient with their ageing parent to the loss of a loved one.

The ending flipped my understanding of the title, “The Man Who Died Twice”, and got me right in the heart. I have a suspicion Mr. Osman is going to bring both laughter and tears in the future three instalments of this series. And you can sign me up here.

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