“The Bullet That Missed” by Richard Osman

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By Laurie Hertzel Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

The Thursday Murder Club is back, and that should make everyone happy except, of course, the murderers.

Richard Osman’s gripping series about a group of crime-solving pensioners has been delighting readers since the first book. “The Thursday Murder Club”, an international bestseller, was funny, original, confusing, poignant and deeply engaging. It’s a high bar to set from the start, but Osman easily achieved it in later books.

His most recent, “The Bullet That Missed,” picks up where “The Man Who Died Twice” ends, and if you haven’t read the other books, you might be a bit lost at first. But ultimately, it won’t matter; the characters are so sharp, the writing so clever, you’ll be swept away even if you don’t know all the actors yet.

Several threads run through the novel. Murder Club founder Elizabeth (an unflappable retired spy) is kidnapped and threatened, warned that she must kill her old friend Viktor Illyich (a former KGB agent) or something terrible will happen – not to Elizabeth, but to someone close to her.

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Meanwhile, Murder Club member Ibrahim travels to jail to meet Connie Johnson, the criminal mastermind the club caught in the latest book. (Her jail cell has an espresso machine; Connie has connections.) And, finally, the cold case that gets it all rolling: A TV reporter has been missing for decades, and the members of the Murder Club think they can get to the bottom of things. Solving cold cases is what they do. Every Thursday.

It’s a lot of fun to see old people portrayed in a way that old people usually aren’t – with busy lives, complicated backgrounds, tons of experience, and sharp minds as bugs. They all have strengths, they all have flaws (Joyce is vain, Elizabeth is proud, Ibrahim struggles with various fears) and together they have wonderful chemistry.

Yes, there are deaths. And yes, there are conflicts. But yes, this book is as delicious as the others. A remarkable achievement: Osman up there balancing effortlessly on that very high bar.

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