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The Bullet that Missed by Richard Osman

The Bullet that Missed is the third novel in Richard Orsman’s delightful series beginning with The Thursday Murder Club which follow the activities of the team of four retirees living in a retirement village whose Thursday meetings, rather than being held to discuss gardening, village social events or even books, are held for the intention of looking into unresolved crimes.

Their present investigation is the case of television reporter, Bethany Waites, whose car was driven off a cliff in the depths of the night. Bethany’s body has never been found which adds additional mystery to the investigation. Joyce persuades Bethany’s former colleague, Mike, to meet with the club so that they can question him about Bethany’s activities during the days preceding her disappearance and he and his makeup artist Pauline are drawn irrevocably into the club’s activities. The investigation widens to include a retired KGB agent, a money-laundering scheme, an ex-boxer, a game show; there are threats, a kidnapping, many surprises and quite a number of shocks.

The warmth, the humour, the wit, the stylish and clever writing make this novel entirely readable and, essentially, loveable. While, as with all good crime fiction, the mystery at the heart of the novel is intriguing and the action fast-moving, it is the characters who particularly captivate the reader. Varied, shrewd, eccentric, and fixated on their bizarre mission, they are somehow real and so believably human. Osman portrays these older people as vivid, actively involved and entirely individualized; he is never patronizing but respectful of their quirks and sensitivities. While the novel is filled with humour- sometimes laugh out loud, sometimes very dry and British- there is also the pathos of, for example, Elizabeth’s beloved husband’s decline in health because of Altzheimer’s disease.

This would be a wonderful novel to enjoy over the Christmas break. The action is fast, the intrigue high and the characters warm and funny; exactly the type to keep company with over long, sunny days.

Reviewer: Paddy Richardson

Viking-Penguin/ Random House


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