The Bullet That Missed is Richard Osman’s 3rd caller featuring “harmless pensioners” Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron, and it succeeds successful hitting precisely the aforesaid funny, daft and warm-hearted notes arsenic its predecessors.
ormer MI6 serviceman Elizabeth is angling to analyse the spinster successful Rye who died leaving 3 unidentified skeletons and a suitcase containing £50,000 successful her cellar, but Joyce is having nary of it. “I don’t enactment my ft down often, but, erstwhile I do, it stays down,” she states.
And so, blistery connected the heels of what Elizabeth blithely presumption their “last small adventure”, retirement-home sleuths The Thursday Murder Club instrumentality connected the enigma of murdered section TV quality presenter Bethany Waites.
Waites had been investigating a monolithic VAT fraud erstwhile her car was driven implicit a cliff successful Dover. Her assemblage was ne'er found, nor was anyone charged. Even though Elizabeth “has work capable detective novels to cognize that you indispensable ne'er spot a execution without a corpse”, the pack get engaged with Bethany’s presumed death. First halt is to invitation her erstwhile person and workfellow Mike Waghorn, prima of South East Tonight, to meal astatine the Coopers Chase restaurant. “We’ve got a array for 5 thirty.” Joyce promises him. “After the rush.”
Joyce has been a instrumentality of Mike’s for years, but her hopes of a small airy flirting travel to nothing. Ron is luckier. “Haven’t you got gorgeous eyes?” Mike’s make-up creator Pauline tells him. “Like Che Guevara if helium worked connected the docks.” While the others commencement snooping into Bethany’s life, Elizabeth receives a visitant who gives her a mission: to termination a erstwhile KGB cause called Viktor Illyich, with whom she has a agelong history. Illyich lives successful London’s Embassy Gardens, celebrated for its entity pool, a diagnostic she dismisses arsenic “just engineering positive money”.
The cardinal fishy successful Bethany’s execution was Heather Garbutt, the pistillate down the VAT fraud, but determination was nary grounds connecting her, oregon her boss, section crook Jack Mason, to the crime. Garbutt is successful situation for fraud, portion Mason remains affluent and astatine large. Dealer Connie Johnson (whose institution slogan is ‘Immediate and brutal retaliation’) is determination too. Locked up pending trial, Connie has discovered that portion it’s hard to tally a multimillion-pound drugs pack from a cell, it’s not impossible.
Recurring characters DCI Chris Hudson and PC Donna De Freitas person some recovered love. Chris is truthful blessed that adjacent connected a freezing formation beside a burnt-out minibus with a burnt-out corpse wrong it, helium notices lone the quality of the sea. Donna is dating Elizabeth’s enigmatic fixer Bogdan. He thinks helium loves her. He surely likes Donna “very, very, precise much. But however galore ‘verys’ crook ‘like’ into ‘love’?” Bogdan delivers 1 of the book’s champion lines: “Everyone wants to consciousness special, but cipher wants to consciousness different.”
The fab 4 each person their subplots, which are handled with insight, humour and empathy. Hard-nosed Elizabeth despairs arsenic she dilatory loses her beloved husband, Stephen, to dementia (“people don’t rather marque the consciousness they did,” helium tells Bogdan). Despite her champion intentions, crypto capitalist Joyce finds herself perpetually astatine likelihood with her girl Joanna. Reserved Ibrahim is inactive recovering from the battle that outgo him his confidence. Gruff Ron, who would sooner speech astir West Ham than emotions, is wading into the satellite of dating with each its attendant concerns, specified arsenic uncovering a edifice “that was classy, but wouldn’t marque a fuss if helium didn’t cognize what weapon to use”.
The book’s rubric refers to a country involving Elizabeth, successful which she appears to marque a earnestly out-of-character rookie error. As with the erstwhile 2 successful this series, the crippled is knitted successful cablegram stitch, with tons of passing implicit and doubling back, but the joyousness of this publication lies successful its kind, well-observed humour, not the plot: what PG Wodehouse called “musical drama without music”.
You get the content Richard Osman is thoroughly enjoying himself, poking amusive astatine his TV career. The statement of TV quiz amusement Stop the Clock is hilarious, arsenic are the titles that vain, would-be writer Andrew Everton, the main constable of Kent, gives to his self-published transgression novels: Remain Silent, Given successful Evidence, Harm Your Defence.
Finally, a quiz. How galore multimillion-selling books this twelvemonth volition person you laughing retired large repeatedly? Of those, however galore volition person a protagonist implicit 70? Your fig is shrinking, isn’t it? How astir 4 protagonists implicit 70? And however galore volition gleefully upend each mode of stereotypes astir older people? When the fig shrinks to one, it’s this one.
The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman
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Fiction: The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman
Viking, 242 pages, hardcover €24; e-book £9.99