The Bullet That Missed (2022) by Richard Osman
It's time once again for the Thursday Murder Club gang to get themselves involved in another murder investigation. The eclectic group of septuagenarians include Elizabeth, an ex-MI5 agent; Ron, a former union activist who's always up for bucking the system; Ibrahim, a retired therapist whose insight into the human psyche and knack for puzzle-solving comes in handy; and Joyce, a former nurse whose appearance has deceived many a miscreant along the way. When they sat down to debate what cold case was next on the agenda, Elizabeth is taken with story of the spinster who died "leaving three unidentified skeletons and a suitcase containing fifty thousand pounds in her cellar." But Joyce, who always seems to get her way when she really puts her foot down, wants them to investigate the case of Bethany Waite.
Bethany had been an investigative reporter and co-host of South East Tonight when her car went off Shakespeare Cliff and she was declared dead, though her body was never found. She had been hot on the trail of a massive fraud and money-laundering scheme and had just sent her co-host Mike Waghorn a message that said she had found something that was absolute dynamite. It apparently blew up in her face.
As the gang investigates, there are more murders and more missing money. They find themselves involved with high-powered crooks, an ex-KGB man, and a mysterious foe the name "Viking" who wants Elizabeth to kill the ex-KGB officer. If she doesn't, he threatens to kill Joyce. The case really heats up and the friends will have to work fast if they don't want to get burned.
So...this was another fun ride. Osman has given us a great set of characters and while there needs to be plenty of suspension of disbelief it doesn't matter that things may not be all that believable at times. This is just a fun group and as long as you're with them you believe they can do all the things that they do. They can outwit the Viking. They can play nice with ex-KGB. They can charm TV personalities into helping them with their investigations. It's all possible. I was a bit disappointed that I saw the solution coming--both the solution to Bethany's murder and who was behind it all. But again, that didn't detract from my enjoyment that much because the characters make the book. The story is so character-driven that it helps compensate for the flaws. ★★★★
First line: Bethany Waites understands there is no going back now.
She has read enough detective novels to know you must never trust a murder without a corpse. (p. .37)
Last line: You keep your head above the water for as long as you can.
Deaths = 4 (one stabbed; one shot; two natural)