This volume was recommended to me by my sister, who absolutely adored it. I didn’t have quite the same reaction.
Like many readers, I loved the beginning. How could you not when this story involves four people in their seventies, including bossy Elizabeth (a former spy), charming Joyce who fancies every man she meets (a former nurse), quiet, dignified Ibrahim (a former psychotherapist) and Ron, who is loud, sometimes obnoxious, but always interesting. It will come as no surprise to anyone that Ron was a former Union Organizer and Rabble Rouser, whose claim to fame was that his picture always appeared in newspapers alongside headlines such as TALKS FAIL AT LAST MOMENT!
However, this is a debut novel, and by the time the first hundred pages had swept by, it showed. For starters, there were so many happenings that were so similar. I lost count of the number of people who visited the convent’s graveyard in the dead of night, shovel in hand, to bury a lover one had inadvertently murdered, or a beloved wife’s ashes that one could not bear to part with, or a bona-fide murder. There must have been five or six happenings of this nature (that was one busy graveyard) it was surprising that the various characters didn’t trip over one another. The original finding of a dead body ON TOP of a nun’s coffin, was thus never solved. Due to all this activity, I was never sure whose body it was.
And then the characters. Like most beginning authors, Richard Osman populated his novel with way too many. (In an interview included in the audio version, he rather endearingly remarked that he thought his novel should be complicated. WRONG! As any seasoned author knows, it is your job as an author to make things crystal clear for the reader. Even if the character is confused, you NEVER want your reader to be confused!)
So when we got to the end of the novel and learned who had killed Peter, I was not in the least bit interested, principally because I couldn’t remember who Peter was, and why his murder was important.
I give 1 star for confusing the reader and 5 stars, for the four wonderful main characters.