The Last Devil to Die (Pamela Dorman Books) unfurls its tapestry in a manner that is ineffably British, tinged with sardonic wit and the acerbic traces of nostalgia. Our cast: a motley group of septuagenarians, sequestered in the bucolic recesses of Cooper’s Chase retirement village in Kent. There’s a murder most foul, and our heroes, with their wrinkles etched by wisdom and tales of yesteryears, are thrust center-stage.
Osman’s narrative, much like a cherished vintage, matures gracefully with each installment. If one were to flip back to the earlier chronicles, one would note the author’s dexterous hand in blending the macabre with the comedic. Consider “The Thursday Murder Club,” Osman’s inaugural foray into the literary landscape, which had laid the groundwork for this quirky investigative team. There, as here, we were regaled with tales from the understated underbelly of senior living, brought alive with whimsical humor.
Then, there’s Richard Osman – a man whose very name conjures images of the quintessential British evening: tea brewing, the telly alive with spirited debate, and perhaps, if one listens closely, the distant rumble of laughter from an unseen audience. His televised avatar, known to most through his presenter roles in popular shows, stands in delightful contrast to his novelist persona. Both, however, showcase a talent for engaging audiences with keen observational wit.
Now, in this present work, beneath the veneer of humor and wit, we encounter the more solemn shadows of life. The story doesn’t shy away from the melancholic corridors of memory loss, and through Stephen’s struggle with dementia, Osman paints a touching canvas, resonant with both grief and love.
One might argue that this is a literary mosaic, where shards of intrigue and snippets of the past coalesce. The narrative seems to have an intimate conversation with the reader, mirroring a tête-à-tête in a dimly lit, wood-paneled pub, where the amber glow of lanterns dances on old oak and the air carries whispers of secrets and stories. The experience is made richer if one is acquainted with the annals of the Thursday Murder Club series, where characters emerge and evolve, their arcs lovingly detailed and deftly interwoven.
With Osman’s evolution as a writer, one might well expect a departure, a sojourn into newer territories. And true to form, whispers abound of him crafting tales far removed from the endearing elders of Cooper’s Chase. Yet, the undeniable charm of these silver-haired sleuths ensures that their absence, however temporary, will leave a void, filled only by the fervent hope of their imminent return.
In the end, The Last Devil to Die isn’t just a tale of crime and camaraderie. It’s a testament to life’s intricate ballet, where grace and grit, humor and heartbreak, pirouette in a dance as old as time itself.
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