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The Missed Bullet by Richard Osman

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Two years ago, Richard Osman’s Murder Club on Thursdays introduced four unlikely but highly likeable amateur detectives. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron meet in Coopers, a luxurious English retreat village in his Chase Jigsaw room once a week to investigate unsolved crimes and identify those who have escaped murder. To do. But when a local builder is found dead, the 70-something detective says he’s working on the first living case of “a real corpse and a real killer out there somewhere.” notice.

Osman’s debut novel became a publishing phenomenon, selling millions of copies and winning the film rights to Steven Spielberg. It was also the first installment of the series. Last year, British TV host Osman delivered a sequel. ‘The Man Who Died Twice’ picked up where its predecessor left off and proved to be a well-constructed, gloriously entertaining story full of intrigue, humor, and adventure.

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Now comes Osman’s third novel, The Bullet That Missed. “It’s been quiet for a few weeks,” he writes in the introduction. So do readers.

In this outing, “four harmless pensioners” follow TV reporter Bethany Waits, who was in her car over a cliff one night ten years ago while investigating a massive act of tax evasion. Her blood and clothes were found in the wreckage. She is missing and presumed dead. With such unsolved crimes comes unanswered questions. Who did Bethany visit that fateful night, and what new evidence did she discover? Who was in her car and, most importantly, what happened to her body?

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Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, the Thursday Murder Club members begin to feel comfortable with the main characters in the case. Ibrahim visits drug dealer Connie Johnson in prison and asks him for a favor. After learning the hard way that “your henchmen aren’t true friends,” Ron reached out to longtime master criminal Jack Mason, who had grown old and become a lonely soul. Elizabeth and Joyce track down Bethany’s replacement, Fiona Clemens. “Very ambitious,” says Joyce.

Osman weaves another element into and around his main story. Ex-spy Elizabeth receives threatening anonymous texts. She is then kidnapped by “Vikings” and tasked with killing her once-fellow Viktor Ilyich, nicknamed “Bullet” by her KGB agents. Joyce will die if Elizabeth does not fulfill her mission within her two weeks. Meanwhile, the prime suspect in the Bethany Waits case has a deadly encounter with knitting needles. Suddenly the stakes are raised and the rules are changed. Can the club solve her two murders Elizabeth will she commit one?

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Osman creates a satisfyingly complex hooda unit full of clever twists and wrong turns. But unlike most crime novelists, he makes sure that the strength and momentum of his books come from their fully formed characters rather than plotlines or thrills. Again, his quartet of friends becomes pleasant company. A no-nonsense and motivated Elizabeth leads her way armed with artifacts and trusty handbags gleaned from her former secret life. Like the good old days. ’” Joyce, her wingwoman and former nurse, is full of positive energy. Ibrahim, a psychiatrist, has a sharp mind, a good ear, and a sharp suit. And former union officer Ron continues to fight tenaciously for justice, or at least as long as his bad knees allow.

If any shortcomings are found, it’s something that repeats itself throughout the series. So the two men in Osman have less to do than the two women, and as a result feel like extras around the main double act. The women’s exchanges are interspersed with witty counterparts, making it clear that Elizabeth is the queen of dry replies. Joyce asks her if she has ever been on television. “I used to be in a hostage video,” Elizabeth replies. Excerpts from Joyce’s lively gossip diary elicit more smiles. But Osman sometimes offsets frivolity with pity, especially when Elizabeth watches her husband Stephen slide further into the dark depths of dementia.

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Osman’s novels are classified as “comfortable crimes”. They deal with the dirtiest murders, but they are neither gruesome nor gritty. It’s not hard-boiled, it’s soft-centered. Love is in the air for some characters on this occasion. Some gangs meditate on the humiliation of growing old, while others ponder the value of friendship. What might have been cute and irrelevant is actually heartwarming and charming. is also alive.

Malcolm Forbes is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Economist, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and The New Republic.

Mystery of the Thursday Murder Club

Pamela Dorman Books. 352 $27

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