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Adult fun

Review by Ben Soton

Adult fun

Review by Ben Soton

The Man Who Died Twice (The Thursday Murder Club, 2) by Richard Osman, Penguin. Hardback: 2021, 432pp, RRP £18.99. Paperback: 2022, 336pp, RRP £8.99.

The Man Who Died Twice RICHARD Osman, the television presenter and writer well-known as one of the public faces of the TV quiz show Pointless, has now made a name for himself as a crime writer. His second novel, based around a group of septuagenarian sleuths, hit the book shelves earlier this year. In The Man Who Died Twice we meet the four main characters where they left off – living in a retirement community in the fictional town of Fairhaven in Kent.

As with Osman’s first novel, we see a diverse group of pensioners getting up to mischief and delving into areas you would not expect. At the outset of the novel Ibrahim, a retired psychiatrist, is mugged and ends up in hospital. His friends, Ron, Elizabeth and Joyce, soon get their revenge on the mugger. Fair play to them.

Much of the novel centres around the re-emergence of ex-spook Elizabeth’s former husband, who re-emerges after several decades with a bag of diamonds stolen from a notorious crook called Martin Lomax. The story takes us into the world of international organised crime and money laundering.

Oman manages to explain that we live in an ultimately interconnected world, where petty-criminals are linked to bigger fish who are in turn connected to international crime barons. Suffice it to say, these crime barons through money laundering are linked to the world of high finance.

According to data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and European crime-fighting agency Europol, the annual global drugs trade is worth around $435 billion per year, with the annual cocaine trade worth $84 billion. It poses the question as to whether the authorities turn a blind eye to drug crime due to pressure from finance capital. There are properties in some inner-city areas where residents are unable to open their windows due to the unpleasant aroma of marijuana and are told by the police that nothing can be done. Last year the global cannabis market was valued at $22.10 billion.

Where do our pensioners fit in? Ultimately, they have experience on their side and to a certain extent no one takes them seriously. The police are portrayed incompetent; in the early part of the novel a drug dealer, whose home they are watching, brings them a cup of coffee.

Meanwhile, our group are also from that lucky generation born between the last stages of the Second World War and the early 1960s. This generation benefitted from the strength of the socialist camp abroad; forcing our ruling class to give concessions such as the NHS. It is perhaps fitting that Joyce, who occasionally narrates the story, is a former nurse. Another effect of the strength of socialist forces internationally was a strong labour movement in Britain. Again, Ron is a former trade union leader. Strangely, Elizabeth, a former MI5 agent, made a career trying to undermine the things that made her generation’s life much easier than earlier, or to that matter later, generations.

Osman’s novels have similarities to the Tom Sharpe comedies of the 1980s; namely comedies that shine a light on the dark side of society in a light-hearted and innocent way. I would not be surprised if Osman’s work does not soon hit the TV screens.

The books and audio CD are currently available on offer below the published RRPs.