Monday, 25 October 2021


 Well, I guessed that might capture your attention. The trouble is success is relative. Would you rather be Jacob Rees-Mogg – rich, with a beautiful house and Rolls Royce or a League Two footballer for Exeter City (9th in the table) and dreaming of promotion. I know which I’d prefer.

But success can’t have ever come in such abundance as it has for Richard Osman the gameshow host, TV producer and writer.

The Thursday Murder Club: The Record-Breaking Sunday Times Number One  Bestseller (The Thursday Murder Club, 1): Osman, Richard:  9780241425442: Books

As a writer he’s breaking all publishing records. So far “The Thursday Murder Club” is only the 2nd work of fiction this century to sell over a million copies. His second book “The Man who Died Twice” sold 114,202 in the first week, one of the fastest opening-week sales of a book ever. The film rights for the first book have been secured by Stephen Spielberg. Richard is the Lionel Messi, or the Beatles, of fiction. If he wrote a book called “The Ditchling Sieved Lettuce Incident” it would sell another million.


The Beatles - IMDb

That’s the question the late Richard Rowe who was Head of A&R (Singles) at Decca Records from the 1950s to the 1970s and who rejected the Beatles would be still asking if he were still alive. 

Because the point is this - as Ann Treneman witheringly wrote in the Times last week -  “The Thursday Murder Club” is not a very easy or rewarding read. Not so says great novelist Ian Rankin it’s 'so smart and funny. Deplorably good’. Kate Atkinson is equally vociferous in her praise. But the point is I agree with Ann Treneman. I’ve read the book and found it rather weak and lacking in focus, and characterisation. My 98-year-old mother-in-law, still a keen reader of writers like Sarah Dunant, was more damning – “disappointing” she sniffed.

So why?

Three things:

1. Brilliant marketing

2. Richard is a carefully created modest and clever TV star we all know and love. He’s a good guy. An intellectual George Clooney.

3. He has settled into, and now owns a piece of unoccupied territory in literature. Old people as heroes. Forget that “love island” Sally Rooney and others compete in writing about. The 3 million over-60s are not so much an island as a continent with more millions of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who love them. How many Grandparents will get several copies of both books this Christmas? 

The Golden Oldies' Starting Next Week at the Royal Court - The Guide  Liverpool

So well done Richard Osman. Several million pounds richer says you are right and that I am wrong in finding your first book a bit Enid Blytonish - “The Retirement Home Of Adventure.” It hasn’t certainly been a “pointless exercise”.

But how I want to write the Texas Chainsaw Massacre version of his books with mad Sister Martha, a series of gruesome murderers, poisoned food and the uncovering of a drug smuggling operation…” that may explain the huge number of visitors in fast cars” mused Inspector Dim. “We’re dealing with Geriatric Lines – it’s worse than County Lines.” 

Mamma Mia! The Party | The O2

Richard Osman has done for the world of literature what Richard Curtis has done with Love Actually and what films like Marigold Hotel and then, Mama Mia did for extrovert audiences. I may not like Richard’s books, but I love the effect they’re having. Whatever else they are nice books which seek to spread joy (and yes Enid Blyton in her day did just that too.)

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman; The Diver and the Lover by  Jeremy Vine – review | Fiction | The Guardian

Richard has sneaked into the role of National Treasure alongside Jamie Oliver, Stephen Fry, Judie Dench, Adele and others. It was about time we had someone like him spreading good.

I’m just so sorry I didn’t enjoy that first book more. 

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