Monday, January 2, 2023

Review: The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

by Richard Osman
Release Date: September 1st, 2021
2021 Penguin
Kindle Edition; 422 Pages
ISBN: 978-0241425428
Audiobook: B08ZJVVB55
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher
3 / 5 Stars
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?
My Thoughts
The Man Who Died Twice is the second book in the Thursday Murder Club series, and I thought it was highly entertaining.. A clever murder mystery featuring retired professionals in a variety of fields, I loved how it parodied our cultural biases regarding the elderly and their usefulness in society.  A blend of humour and some very serious issues regarding aging made this second instalment a lot of fun.
The story is very much character-driven, but was done in such a way as to continue the secrecy of what some of the characters actually did before they retired.  On the outside, Elizabeth was a spy, Joyce a nurse, Ibrahim a psychologist, and Ron a union organizer, but as the threads unwind, you learn they were involved in so much more.  And I thought this was cleverly done by the author as I kept reading to find out more about the characters and their past histories, especially Joyce who confounds me.  It was quite easy to figure out Elizabeth although we are learning only a bit about her, but I really feel like it's Joyce who has the big secret and is being overlooked in a clever way.  All of the characters are very well-written and I enjoyed their banter, both with regards to the mystery as well as to the tongue-in-cheek comments about growing older. 
But while I did enjoy the character development, I did think the mystery was a bit weak, which is why I gave it the rating that I did.  When a book is so character-driven, sometimes the plot sinks too much in the background and this is exactly what happened. It tried to be too clever, with a lot of banter between the characters, and thus, the mystery got lost in there somewhere.   I did feel like the whole narrative was executed much better in this instalment as the author tended to focus more on the main characters rather than all of the characters in the story, such as Chris and Donna, which is how it should be, but there were still some pacing issues and it took a while for the main mystery to really get going. 
I did appreciate a larger focus on the themes of dementia, PTSD, loneliness, and the difficulties of growing older in a society that seems to devalue the elderly and their contributions.  There are some sharp criticisms of our society revolving these issues and I am glad to see them there as they need to be discussed, especially with a growing older population in many countries.
The Man Who Died Twice was a fun entry into this series, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Although there were some pacing issues and I felt the mystery was predictable, I did like the character development and thought the way the author incorporated issues into the plot was quite clever.  I am looking forward to many more books in this series; I have already read the third book, and am looking forward to the fourth book when it is released next September.


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