I must have heard Richard Osman advertising his second book on ClassicFM dozens of times. I can’t remember exactly how it went. Something like: there are murders, mafia and Colombian drug barons, diamonds, drugs, spies, laughter and tears. I didn’t doubt the laughter. I’d spent a lot of time sitting next to Claire as she read his first book, The Thursday Murder Club, then this one. The laughs were there in abundance. Tears I doubted. I was wrong, I wept. Page 169 in case you’re interested. So I’m more than happy to write this review.

I read this book first. Claire has lent the first book to her sister, who reads six books at the same time, so it’ll be a while till I get to it. Starting at book two was not a problem. Sure there was some backstory that I was unaware of, but it was fine. It’s everything it promises to be. Mr Osman is a great storyteller. His mastery of an elderly lady’s voice is unbelievably good. It’s a very well crafted plot. It also has some themes under the surface making it more than a mystery, more than a romance, more than a comedy. 

Take this advice on mental health and loneliness for example:

“Ibrahim nods. ‘Let it go. Remember it as a happy time. You were at the top of a mountain, and now you’re in a valley. It will happen to you a number of times.’

‘So what do I do now?’

‘You climb the next mountain, of course.’

‘Oh yeah, of course,’ says Donna. Simple. ‘And what’s up the next mountain?’

‘We’ll, we don’t know, do we? It’s your mountain. No one’s ever climbed it before.’

‘And what if I don’t want to? What if I just want to go home and cry every night, and pretend to everyone that everything’s OK?’

‘Then do that. Keep being scared, keep being lonely. And spend the next twenty years coming to see me, and I will keep telling you the same thing. Put your boots on and climb the next mountain. See what’s up there. Friends, promotions, babies. It’s your mountain.’

I highly recommend this book. I’m looking forward to Claire’s sister finishing The Thursday Murder Club, so that I can read it and post a review. I checked out some of the reviews on Amazon 78% of which are five stars. I was stunned by one review (one star) which included “This book is awful. I punished myself reading it. Every sentence is overwritten to breaking point. It is very hard to care about any of the characters because they are all so badly written.” Surely we can’t have read the same book? I found it helpful. That doesn’t mean I clicked the helpful button. It means I take comfort that even a book like this will have bad reviews. You really can’t please everybody. I shall have to accept the odd bad review of my books, and be delighted by the good ones. Have you read a good book lately? Please tell us about it. Go to Readers club and click the share a book button.