Review of “The Man Who Died Twice” by Richard Osman
I didn’t know this was part of a series when I bought it at Copenhagen International Airport. It wasn’t a problem, however, because the references to previous exploits are vague and don’t directly impact this story. The personalities and relationships of the characters are presented in sufficient depth that a fan of the series would probably find the detail redundant.
One thing I found disconcerting is the use of the present tense with a third-person narrator for most of the chapters. This approach is so awkward and inappropriate that the author kept resorting to the past and present perfect to present past events, and they made a lot of grammatically clumsy (if not erroneous) constructions doing it. It just made no sense. There is a first-person narrator who shares her view periodically, and that works fine in present tense. Some people talk like that.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of cliches (English not American) and stereotypes for the characters, but they kind of seemed the same to me most of the time. Now and then, one of them would suddenly behave differently than they had before; that is a risk with an ensemble cast of characters, and I only mention it to be as complete as memory will allow. The central character (not the narrator) seemed to have a rush of inspiration at the end, realizing her fallibility; it made me wonder if she does it in every book?
The plot was obvious because there really was only one person with the resources required to pull off the crime; thus, a variety of red herrings were introduced to keep the reader from figuring it out, and show the weakness of egotism (I still don’t understand the title).
Overall, a fun romp with some elderly people, filled with anecdotal observations of aging and nonsense. I didn’t finish it on the flight, but I remembered to read a few chapters (they’re short) every day.
A final comment: One crime solved by the “Thursday Murder Club” is enough for me…