The Man Who Died Twice, by Richard Osman

Summary: Highly entertaining soft-core Brexity fantasy

The second book in Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club series, The Man Who Died Twice returns to the genteel environs of its predecessor.

Like many second books in series, from Denis Lehane to JK Rowling, one can feel Osman getting into his stride, having established his universe and now able to concentrate more on the evolving story rather than scene-setting.

The Man Who Died Twice is a more overtly right-wing work than its predecessor. In it roughish-diamond coppers think nothing of fitting up suspects they just know are guilty, and the book’s pensioner heroes take the law into their own hands with the casual disdain for due process of the most knuckle headed of authoritarians.

Doubtless this will play well with the Daily Mail readers who are a core demographic in this book’s audience. But even so, it would have been nice if Osman showed the slightest knowledge of the brutal realities of child slavery in “county lines” and the operation of the British drugs economy if he is going to include such things in his books.

But that would probably upset the soft-core fantasy for Brexity readers. Instead this is a world with few complexities and no bad language, in which foreigns know their place, and plucky have-a-go British heroes with bulldog spirit always triumph over the baddies and are home in time for cocoa.

In spite of its politics, The Man Who Died Twice is a highly entertaining affair, with plenty of good jokes and a twisty plot. Even without the unicorns, it’s a vision of sunlit uplands that is as close as the English are ever going to get to the Brexit they thought they voted for. So it’s hard to grudge them their fairytales, particularly when they are as elegantly written as this.

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