Review: Richard Osman – The Thursday Murder Club: The Bullet That Missed

Sitting down with a Richard Osman book feels like meeting for a coffee with one of your oldest friends while you catch each other up on milestones, life events and funny anecdotes. 

I’ve previously described the Thursday Murder Club series as Ricky Gervais’ Derek meets How To Get Away With Murder’ and akin to a ‘quintessentially British slice of Victoria sponge that you don’t want to end’, so to say it was a joy to become reacquainted with the Coopers Chase residents is an understatement – it feels much more like a privilege.

The Bullet That Missed is the third novel in the record-breaking, million-copy bestselling series from the ex-Pointless presenter, and does a wonderful job of jogging the old memory on the Thursday Murder Club’s previous outings while introducing a host of new characters to the gang, including some unlikely but brilliant romances and Joyce’s lovely little dog, Alan.

The cold-case hobbyists stumble upon a decade-old case of the death of a young journalist, Bethany Waites, who’s car was seemingly driven off a cliff. Though we should all know by now that not everything is as it seems with the Thursday Murder Club.

The case leads them to a local news legend and a murder with no body and no answers. But one story at a time would be far too juvenile for Osman, so he introduces a new foe for ex-spy Elizabeth, who provides her with an ultimatum – Kill…or be killed.

As the cold case turns white hot, Elizabeth wrestles with her conscience (and a gun), while Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim chase down clues with help from friends old and new. But can the gang solve the mystery and save Elizabeth before the murderer strikes again?

I adored the initial two books of this series, but The Bullet That Missed now has a complete backstory and the characters feel so richly developed, readers really connecting with them, making for an even more moving read that’s full of heart and humour. For me, it’s the quiz host’s best work so far, and sets up the fourth and final novel impeccably well.

Osman’s warm and witty writing style is charming and hugely entertaining, capturing each and every character’s personality, mannerisms and quirks with vivid intimacy. He allows his ageing investigators to take us one yet another thrilling adventure from Sussex to Staffordshire as we create an investigation board of red thread and prime suspects in our mind. 

This novel introduces us to more mayhem and new friends, including a former KGB agent, a cryptocurrency expert, news readers, TV presenters, makeup artists and more, while we are also able to reacquaint with Bogdan, Stephen, Donna, Chris and, in an unlikely twist, Connie.

The majority of the book is written in the third person except Joyce’s endearing and conversational diary entries, with short and sweet chapters making for an easy and fast paced read, perfect for picking up and putting down between cups of tea and pottering, or powering through parts one, two and three.

Osman uses his quizzing knowledge to weave in-jokes and popular culture references throughout the pages as the drama unfolds, which makes it all the more relatable, familiar and comforting to readers, keeping them glued to the pages as the plot thickens.

While it’s thrilling and laugh-out-loud funny read, this book is not without its tender moments, sensitively handling the topic of Stephen’s developing dementia through his interactions with Elizabeth and Bogdan. It’s absolutely heart-wrenching and I have a terrible feeling that book number four will have some very sad moments as the series wraps up.

Well-crafted wry wit that will leave you snickering to yourself and a group of pensioners so wonderfully brought to life makes The Thursday Murder Club a series full of hope, humour and honest friendship. Throw in a few deaths, threats and plot twists, and you’ve got a Richard Osman masterclass in cosy crime writing and a warning never to underestimate your nan and her mates. Treat yourself – our your grandparents – to a copy of the book here

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