The Thursday Murder Club series is a bit of a cult sensation. When the first book came out it broke some record for being one of the fastest-selling debut novels of all time or something and since then every single sequel shoots to the top of the best sellers almost instantly upon release. There’s something about Osman’s casual and lighthearted writing style and the cast of unexpectedly humorous older characters that make these such accessible books for all ages. But how’s the third in the series?
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The third book in the Thursday Murder Club series, The Bullet That Missed doesn’t stray too far from the tried and tested and much-loved formula we’ve had in the previous two novels. We’ve got our cast of pensioners who are crime fighters, we’ve got a case that needs solving whilst some other overarching story is going on as well and we’ve got Richard Osman’s usual funny and not-too-serious writing style taking us through it all.
The Bullet That Missed plot – 4.25/5
The plot in these books is never really the highlight of the book. Yes, there’s a thriller here and I did enjoy the mini twist halfway through the book that sped up the pace a little but this book isn’t going to take you on some reflective journey or have you running and recommending it to people who are looking for the next literary sensation.
But then I don’t think this is ever what Osman intends. The Bullet That Missed absolutely rides on the wonderfully quirky characters that Osman has spent a few years developing now but who were already fairly solid in the first book.
The Bullet That Missed is about a decade-old case of a murder with no body. They’re led to her place of work and begin to interrogate everyone there. Along the way, they’re accosted by a new enemy called “Viking” who wants Elizabeth to kill KGB chief Viktor. Whilst this is all going on, there’s someone in prison right now who may be connected to it all and who also wants one of the Murder Club well… murdered.
The plot is fun, it goes a great pace and it never gets so diluted that you find yourself thinking you should have trained as a detective to try and keep up with it. As long as you can keep up with the growing cast of names (and if you’re this far into the series you already know the regulars) then you’ll be fine here.
I found myself following this book’s plot more than the previous ones and therefore enjoying it slightly more. Whether that’s because it was a genuinely better plot or because I was away on a sunny holiday whilst reading it so would probably have enjoyed anything! (I’m sure it’s the former!)
The Bullet That Missed characters – 4.75/5
As I’ve said, the absolute best things about these books are the characters – they’re funny, they’re wise and they don’t care enough about anything that the book ever feels that tense so we can just pootle along, read it and enjoy it.
The Bullet That Missed is one of the best in the series when it comes to the characters. Nothing ever really gets that deep but without their wit and regular sarcasm, the story would often seem far more serious than it needed to and their nonchalant looks at life mean that it’s a relaxing and enjoyable book to read despite sometimes having some darker moments.
Joyce, Elizabeth, Ibrahim and Ron all return with Elizabeth as our real-life spy, Joyce giving us her innocent and honest diary entries, Ibrahim delivering his honest one-liners and Ron continuing to be the butch macho male but accepting not everybody else is like that. They’re a great cast of personalities that often had me physically laughing out loud (no belly laughs like, just the exhaling from the nose sort of laugh).
The Bullet That Missed final rating – 4.5/5
The Bullet That Missed continues to ride on the successful formula that the series has adopted – the plot is enjoyable and easy enough to follow that it makes for a quick and easy book to read and the characters are an absolute delight to read about. The writing isn’t going to blow your mind and don’t expect the story to take you on some spiritual journey but The Thursday Murder Club series is still on strong form with this third entry. In fact, I would argue that this is my favourite in the series so far.