The third entry in Richard Osman’s phenomenally successful Thursday Murder Club series follows the arc of most series. The stakes continually get higher, new characters are introduced, and the plots get more and more complicated. For now, though, the grace of Osman’s plotting and the charm of his characters can keep the reader invested.
Once again, the elderly members of the Thursday Murder Club insert themselves into a murder investigation, utilizing their wisdom and experience while also cleverly subverting people’s lowered expectations of senior citizens. The core of Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron, and Ibrhaim remains the same but their circle is ever-expanding. In addition to their friends from the police force and the jack of all trades Bogdan, The Bullet That Missed finds them befriending (and exploiting) a motley crew of money launderers, drug dealers, and newsreaders.
The murder they’re all working together to solve is a cold case involving the death of a local news reporter who was on the brink of breaking a huge story when her car went off a cliff. Her former co-anchor (who Joyce is just dying to meet) is still haunted by her death and easily won over when the Thursday Murder Club offers to find her killer. Their efforts take them far afield and, in the way of these things, the bodies start piling up as those who might know something about this decade-old murder are conveniently dispatched before they can reveal too much.
One of the hallmarks of the series is that there’s never just one thing going on. In addition to the main case they’re trying to crack, the Club finds itself challenged on several other fronts, from Elizabeth’s past as an intelligence operative once again coming back to haunt her to Ibrahim’s attempts to rehabilitate a previous nemesis through therapy. However far afield these plotlines seem to take the Club, the reader can count on Osman to eventually weave them into the main narrative.
In truth, sometimes things do get a little silly, but there is something admirable in Osman’s ability to spin so many plates and keep them spinning all the way to the end. As I was nearing the end of this briskly-paced novel I thought there wasn’t enough space left for him to wrap up every loose end, but he proved me wrong. For that, I can look past some of my misgivings about the cozy mystery genre and keep coming back for more. Just today Osman announced that the fourth book in the series will be coming out in September and I’m sure I’ll be reading it shortly thereafter.