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Extract: The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman

Loved The Thursday Murder Club? Raced through The Bullet That Missed? Then we have some great news for you – because the fourth book in Richard Osman’s popular series is out this September, and we have an exclusive extract of its first three chapters!

In The Last Devil to Die, terrible news reaches the group: an old friend in the antiques business has been murdered, and the package he was protecting has gone missing.

As the gang springs into action they encounter art forgers, online fraudsters and drug dealers, as well as heartache close to home.

With the body count rising, the package still missing and trouble firmly on their tail, has their luck finally run out? And who will be the last devil to die?

Read on for the first few chapters of The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman!

The Last Devil to Die
by
Richard Osman

Thursday, 27th December, eleven p.m.

Kuldesh Sharma hopes he’s in the right place. He parks up at the end of the dirt track, hemmed in on all sides by trees, ghoulish in the darkness.
        He had finally made up his mind at about four this afternoon, sitting in the back room of his shop. The box was sitting on the table in front of him, and ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ was playing on the radio.
        He made two phone calls, and now here he is.
        He switches off his headlights and sits in total darkness.
        It’s a hell of a risk, that’s for sure. But he’s nearly eighty years old, so when better to take that risk? What’s the worst that can happen? They find him and kill him?
They would surely do both, but would that be so bad?
        Kuldesh thinks about his friend Stephen. How he looks now. How lost, how quiet, how reduced. Is that the future for him too? What fun they used to have, the whole lot of them. The noise they would make.
        The world is becoming a whisper to Kuldesh. Wife gone, friends falling. He misses the roar of life.
        And then in walked the man with the box.
        Somewhere in the distance a faint haze of light plays through the trees. There is engine noise in the cold silence. It is starting to snow, and he hopes the drive back to Brighton won’t be too treacherous.
        A sweep of light crosses his back windscreen, as another car approaches.
        Boom, boom, boom. There’s that old heart of his. He’d almost forgotten it was there.
        Kuldesh doesn’t have the box with him now. It is quite safe though, and that will keep him safe for the time being. That is his insurance. He still needs to buy a bit of time. And if he can, then, well…
        The headlights of the approaching car dazzle his mirrors, and then switch off. The wheels crunch to a halt, the engine idles, and all is darkness and silence once again.
        Here we go, then. Should he get out? He hears a car door close, and footsteps start their approach.
        The snow is heavier now. How long will this take? He’ll have to explain about the box, of course. A bit of reassurance, but then, he hopes, he’ll be on his way before the snow turns to ice. The roads will be deadly. He wonders if –
        Kuldesh Sharma sees the flash of the gunshot, but is dead before he can hear the noise.

PART ONE

So What Are You Waiting For?

1

Wednesday, 26th December, lunchtime-ish

‘I once married a woman from Swansea,’ says Mervyn Collins. ‘Red hair, the lot.’
        ‘I see,’ says Elizabeth. ‘Sounds like there’s quite a story there?’
        ‘A story?’ Mervyn shakes his head. ‘No, we split up. You know women.’
        ‘We do know them, Mervyn,’ says Joyce, cutting into a Yorkshire pudding. ‘We do.’
        Silence. Not, Elizabeth notes, the first silence during this meal.
        It is Boxing Day, and the gang, plus Mervyn, are at the Coopers Chase restaurant. They are all wearing colourful paper crowns from the crackers Joyce has brought along. Joyce’s crown is too big and is threatening to become a blindfold at any moment. Ron’s is too small, the pink crêpe paper straining at his temples.
        ‘Are you sure I can’t tempt you to a drop of wine, Mervyn?’ asks Elizabeth.
        ‘Alcohol at lunchtime? No,’ says Mervyn.
        The gang had spent Christmas Day separately. It had been a difficult one for Elizabeth, she would have to admit that. She had hoped that the day might spark something, give her husband Stephen a burst of life, some clarity, memories of Christmas past fuelling him. But no. Christmas was like any other day for Stephen now. A blank page at the end of an old book. She shudders to think about the year ahead.
        They had all arranged to meet for a Boxing Day lunch in the restaurant. At the last minute, Joyce had asked if it might be polite to invite Mervyn to join them. He has been at Coopers Chase a few months and has, thus far, struggled to make friends.
        ‘He’s all alone this Christmas,’ Joyce had said, and they had agreed that they should ask him. ‘Nice touch,’ Ron had said, and Ibrahim had added that if Coopers Chase was about anything, it was about ensuring that no one should feel lonely at Christmas.
        Elizabeth, for her part, applauded Joyce’s generosity of spirit, while noting that Mervyn, in certain lights, had the type of handsome looks that so often left Joyce helpless. The gruff Welshness of his voice, the darkness of his eyebrows, the moustache and that silver hair. Elizabeth more and more is getting the hang of Joyce’s type, and ‘anyone plausibly handsome’ seems to cover it.
        ‘He looks like a soap-opera villain,’ was Ron’s take, and Elizabeth was happy to accept his word on the matter.
        Thus far they have tried to speak to Mervyn about politics (‘not my area’), television (‘no use for it’) and marriage (‘I once married a woman from Swansea’, etc.). Mervyn’s food arrives. He had resisted the turkey, and the kitchen agreed to make him scampi and boiled potatoes instead.
        ‘Scampi fan, I see,’ says Ron, pointing to Mervyn’s plate. Elizabeth has to hand it to him, he’s trying to help things along.
        ‘Wednesdays I have the scampi,’ agrees Mervyn.
        ‘Is it a Wednesday?’ says Joyce. ‘I always lose track around Christmas. Never know what day it is.’
        ‘It’s Wednesday,’ confirms Mervyn. ‘Wednesday, the 26th of December.’
        ‘Did you know that “scampi” is the plural?’ says Ibrahim, his paper crown fashionably askew. ‘Each individual piece is a “scampo”.’
        ‘I did know that, yes,’ says Mervyn.
        Elizabeth has cracked harder nuts than Mervyn over the years. She once had to question a Soviet general who had not uttered a single word in more than three months of captivity, and within the hour he was singing Noël Coward songs with her. Joyce has been working on Mervyn for a few weeks now, since the end of the Bethany Waites case. She has so far gleaned that he has been a headteacher, he has been married, he is on his third dog, and he likes Elton John, but this does not amount to all that much.
        Elizabeth decides to take the conversation by the scruff of the neck. Sometimes you have to shock the patient into life.
        ‘So, our mysterious friend from Swansea aside, Mervyn, how’s your romantic life?’
        ‘I have a sweetheart,’ says Mervyn.
        Elizabeth sees Joyce raise the most subtle of eyebrows.
        ‘Good for you,’ says Ron. ‘What’s her name?’
        ‘Tatiana,’ says Mervyn.
        ‘Beautiful name,’ says Joyce. ‘First I’ve heard of her though?’
        ‘Where’s she spending Christmas?’ asks Ron.
        ‘Lithuania,’ says Mervyn.
        ‘The Jewel of the Baltic,’ says Ibrahim.
        ‘I’m not sure we’ve seen her at Coopers Chase, have we?’ asks Elizabeth. ‘Since you’ve moved in?’
        ‘They’ve taken her passport,’ says Mervyn.
        ‘Goodness,’ says Elizabeth. ‘That sounds unfortunate. Who has?’
        ‘The authorities,’ says Mervyn.
        ‘Sounds about right,’ says Ron, shaking his head. ‘Bloody authorities.’
        ‘You must miss her terribly,’ says Ibrahim. ‘When did you last see her?’
        ‘We haven’t, just as yet, met,’ says Mervyn, scraping tartare sauce off a scampo.
        ‘You haven’t met?’ asks Joyce. ‘That seems unusual?’
        ‘Just been unlucky,’ says Mervyn. ‘She had a flight cancelled, then she had some cash stolen, and now there’s the passport thing. The course of true love never did run smooth.’
        ‘Indeed,’ agrees Elizabeth. ‘Never did it.’
        ‘But,’ says Ron, ‘once she’s got her passport back, she’ll be over?’
        ‘That’s the plan,’ says Mervyn. ‘It’s all under control. I’ve sent her brother some money.’
        The gang nod and look at each other as Mervyn eats his scampi.
        ‘Apropos of nothing, Mervyn,’ says Elizabeth, adjusting her paper crown just a jot, ‘how much did you send him? The brother?’
        ‘Five thousand,’ says Mervyn. ‘All in all. Terrible corruption in Lithuania. Everyone bribing everyone.’
        ‘I wasn’t aware of that,’ says Elizabeth. ‘I have had many good times in Lithuania. Poor Tatiana. And the cash she had stolen? Was that from you too?’
        Mervyn nods. ‘I sent it, and the customs people nicked it.’
        Elizabeth fills up the glasses of her friends. ‘Well, we shall look forward to meeting her.’
        ‘Very much,’ agrees Ibrahim.
        ‘Though, I wonder, Mervyn,’ says Elizabeth, ‘next time she gets in touch asking for money, perhaps you might let me know? I have contacts and may be able to help?’
        ‘Really?’ asks Mervyn.
        ‘Certainly,’ says Elizabeth. ‘Run it past me. Before you have any more bad luck.’
        ‘Thank you,’ says Mervyn. ‘She means a great deal to me. Been a long time since someone paid me any attention.’
        ‘Although I’ve baked you a lot of cakes in the last few weeks,’ says Joyce.
        ‘I know, I know,’ says Mervyn. ‘But I meant romantic attention.’
        ‘My mistake,’ says Joyce, and Ron drinks to stifle a laugh.
        Mervyn is an unconventional guest, but Elizabeth is learning to float on the tides of life these days.
        Turkey and stuffing, balloons and streamers, crackers and hats. A nice bottle of red, and what Elizabeth assumes are Christmas pop songs playing in the background. Friendship, and Joyce flirting unsuccessfully with a Welshman who appears to be the subject of a fairly serious international fraud. Elizabeth could think of worse ways to spend the holidays.
        ‘Well, Happy Boxing Day, everyone,’ says Ron, raising his glass.
        They all join in the toast.
        ‘And a Happy Wednesday, 26th of December, to you, Mervyn,’ adds Ibrahim.

2

Mitch Maxwell would normally be a million miles away when a consignment was unloaded. Why take the risk of being in the warehouse when the drugs were present? But, for obvious reasons, this is no ordinary consignment. And the fewer people involved, the better, given his current circumstances. The only time he has stopped drumming his fingers is to bite his nails. He is not used to being nervous.
        Also it’s Boxing Day, and Mitch wanted to be out of the house. Needed to be out, really. The kids were playing up, and he and his father-in-law had got into a fist fight about where they’d seen one of the actors on the Call the Midwife: Christmas Special before. His father-in-law is currently in Hemel Hempstead Hospital with a fractured jaw. His wife and his mother-in-law are both blaming Mitch, for reasons he can’t fathom, and so he thought discretion might be the better part of valour, and driving the hundred miles to East Sussex to oversee things himself turned out to be very convenient.
        Mitch is here to ensure one simple box containing a hundred thousand pounds’ worth of heroin is unloaded from a truck straight off the ferry. Not a lot of money, but that wasn’t the point.
        The shipment had made it through customs. That was the point.

The warehouse is on an industrial estate, haphazardly constructed on old farmland about five miles from the South Coast. There were probably barns and stables here hundreds of years ago, corn and barley and clover, horses’ hooves clattering, and now there are corrugated-iron warehouses, old Volvos and cracked windows on the same footprint. The old creaking bones of Britain.
        A high metal fence surrounds the whole plot to keep out petty thieves, while, inside the perimeter, the real villains go about their business. Mitch’s warehouse bears the aluminium sign Sussex Logistics Systems. Next door, in another echoing hangar, you’ll find Future Transport Solutions Ltd, a front for stolen high-performance cars. To the left is a Portakabin with no sign on the door, which is run by a woman Mitch has yet to meet, but who apparently churns out MDMA and passports. In the far corner of the lot is the winery and storage warehouse of Bramber – the finest English sparkling wine, which Mitch recently discovered is actually a genuine business. The brother and sister who run it could not be more charming, and had given everyone a crate of their wine for Christmas. It was better than Champagne, and had led, in no small part, to the fist fight with his father-in-law.
        Whether the brother and sister at Bramber Sparkling Wine had their suspicions that they were the only legitimate company in the whole compound, Mitch couldn’t guess, but they had certainly once seen him buying a crossbow from Future Transport Solutions Ltd and hadn’t batted an eyelid, so they were sound enough. Mitch suspected there was good money to be made in English sparkling wine, and had thought about investing. In the end he hadn’t taken the plunge, because there was also good money to be made in heroin, and sometimes you should stick to what you know. He’s beginning to revise that opinion now, however, as his troubles keep piling up.
        The warehouse doors are shut, and the back door of the lorry is open. Two men – well, a man and a boy, really – are unloading plant pots. The minimum crew.
        Again, because of the current situation, Mitch has already had to tell them to be careful. Sure, the little box hidden deep among the pallets is the most important cargo, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make a few quid off the plant pots too. Mitch sells them to garden centres around the South East, a nice legitimate business. And no one is going to pay for a cracked plant pot.
        The heroin is in a small terracotta box, made to look old, like a tatty piece of garden junk, in case anyone comes snooping. A boring ornament. It’s their regular trick. Somewhere in a farmhouse in Helmand, the heroin has been placed in the box, and the box has been wedged shut. Someone from Mitch’s organization – Lenny had drawn the short straw – had been in Afghanistan to oversee it, to make sure the heroin was pure and no one was trying to pull a fast one. The terracotta box had then made its way in Lenny’s care to Moldova, to a town that knew how to mind its own business, and there it had been carefully concealed among hundreds of plant pots and driven across Europe, by a man called Garry with a prison record and not much to lose.
        Mitch is in the office, on a makeshift mezzanine level at the far end of the warehouse, scratching the ‘God Loves a Trier’ tattoo on his arm. Everton are losing 2–0 to Man City, which is inevitable but still annoying. Someone had once asked Mitch to join a consortium to buy Everton Football Club. Tempting, to own a piece of his boyhood club, his lifelong passion, but the more Mitch looked into the business of football, the more he thought, once again, that he should probably stick to heroin.
        Mitch gets a text from his wife, Kellie.

        Dad’s out of hospital. He says he’s going to kill you.

        This would be a figure of speech to some, but Mitch’s father-in-law is the head of one of Manchester’s largest gangs, and once bought Mitch a police-issue Taser as a Christmas present. So you had to be careful with him. But doesn’t everyone have to be careful with their in-laws? Mitch is sure it’ll be fine – his marriage to Kellie had been the love that conquered all, the Romeo and Juliet that had united Liverpool and Manchester. Mitch texts back.

        Tell him I’ve bought him a Range Rover.

        There is a hollow knock at the flimsy office door, and his second-in-command, Dom Holt, comes in.
        ‘All good,’ says Dom. ‘Pots unloaded, box in the safe.’
        ‘Thanks, Dom.’
        ‘You wanna see it? Ugly-looking thing.’
        ‘No thanks, mate,’ says Mitch. ‘This is as close as I ever want to get.’
        ‘I’ll send you a picture,’ says Dom. ‘Just so you’ve seen it.’
        ‘When’s it heading out?’ Mitch is aware that they are not yet home and dry. But his big worry had been customs. Surely it was safe now? What else could go wrong?
        ‘Nine in the morning,’ says Dom. ‘The shop opens at ten. I’ll send the boy over with it.’
        ‘Good lad,’ says Mitch. ‘Where’s it going? Brighton?’
        Dom nods. ‘Antiques shop. Geezer called Kuldesh Sharma. Not our usual, but the only one we could find open. Shouldn’t be a problem.’
        Man City score a third goal, and Mitch winces. He switches off his iPad – no need for any further misery.
        ‘I’ll leave you to it. Better head home,’ says Mitch. ‘Could your lad nick the Range Rover parked outside the Sparkling Wine place and drive it up to Hertfordshire for me?’
        ‘No problem, boss,’ says Dom. ‘He’s fifteen, but those things drive themselves. I can drop the box off myself.’
        Mitch leaves the warehouse through a fire exit. No one but Dom and the young lad has seen him, and he and Dom had been at school together, been expelled together, in fact, so no worries there.
        Dom had moved to the South Coast ten years ago after setting fire to the wrong warehouse, and he looks after all the logistics out of Newhaven. Very useful. Good schools down here too, so Dom is happy. His son just got into the Royal Ballet. All turned out nicely. Until the last few months. But they’re across it. So long as nothing goes wrong with this one. And, so far, so good. Mitch rolls his shoulders, getting ready for the journey home. His father-in-law won’t be happy, but they’ll have a pint and watch a Fast & Furious and all will be well. He might get a black eye for his troubles – he’s got to give the guy a free punch after what he did – but the Range Rover should placate him.
        One little box, a hundred grand in profit. Nice work for a Boxing Day.
        What happens after tomorrow is not Mitch’s business. His business is to get the box from Afghanistan to a small antiques shop in Brighton. As soon as someone picks it up, Mitch’s job is done. A man, maybe a woman, who knows, will walk into the shop the next morning, buy the box and walk out. The contents will be verified, and the payment will hit Mitch’s account immediately.
        And, more importantly, he’ll know that his organization is secure again. It’s been quite a few months. Seizures at the ports, arrests of drivers, arrests of errand boys. That’s why he’s kept this one so quiet, talking just to the people he can trust. Testing the waters.
        From tomorrow, he hopes he will never have to think about the ugly terracotta box again. That he can just bank the money and move on to the next one.
        Had Mitch looked over the road to his left as he was leaving the business park, he would have seen a motorcycle courier parked up in a lay-by. And the thought might then have occurred to him that this was an unusual place at an unusual time on an unusual day for the man to be parked there. But Mitch doesn’t see the man, so this thought does not occur, and he drives merrily on his way back home.
        The motorcyclist stays where he is.

3

Joyce

Hello again!
        I didn’t write my diary yesterday because it was Christmas Day, and it all caught up with me. It does, doesn’t it? Baileys and mince pies and television. The flat was a bit too hot, according to Joanna, and then, once I’d done something about it, a bit too cold. Joanna has underfloor heating throughout, as she isn’t shy of reminding you.
        The decorations are up all around me, making me smile. Reds and golds and silvers glinting off the light bulbs, cards on the walls from friends old and new. On top of my tree (it’s not real, don’t tell anyone, it’s John Lewis and you wouldn’t honestly know the difference), an angel Joanna made at primary school. It’s a toilet roll, some aluminium foil, lace and a face drawn on a wooden spoon. It’s been on top of the tree for forty-odd years now. Half a lifetime!
        For the first four or five years Joanna was so proud and excited to see her angel on top of the tree, then there were two or three years of increasing embarrassment, leading to, I’d say, thirty years of outright hostility towards the poor angel. In the last few years, though, I’ve noticed there has been a thawing, and this year I came back into the room with Jaffa Cakes on a plate to find Joanna touching the angel, tears in the corners of her eyes.
        Which took me by surprise, but, then, I suppose it’s been there almost a whole lifetime for her.
        Joanna came down with her beau, Scott, the football chairman. I had been expecting to go to theirs – Joanna’s house looks so lovely and Christmassy on Instagram. Flowers and bows, and a real tree. Candles too close to the curtains for my liking, but she’s her own woman.
        Joanna left it until December 20th to announce they would be spending Christmas at mine, and told me not to worry about food, as they’d be bringing everything down, all precooked, from some restaurant in London.
        ‘No need for you to cook a thing, Mum,’ she had said, which was a shame, as I would have looked forward to cooking.
        Why were they at mine? Well, they were flying out to St Lucia on Christmas evening and, at the last minute, their flight had been changed from Heathrow, near them, to Gatwick, near me.
        So I was convenient. Which is the best you can ask for sometimes, isn’t it?
        Let me tell you something else, while it’s on my mind. We had goose for Christmas dinner. Goose! I said I had a turkey and I could put it on, but Joanna told me that goose is actually more traditional than turkey, and I said, My foot is goose more traditional than turkey, and she said, Mum, Christmas wasn’t invented by Charles Dickens, you know, and I said, I knew that very well (I wasn’t really sure what she meant, but I sensed the argument was slipping away from me, and I needed a foothold), and she said, Well, then, goose it is, and I said, I’ll get the crackers, and she said, No crackers, Mum, it’s not the eighties. Other than that it was a nice Christmas, and we watched the King’s Speech even though I knew Joanna didn’t want to. In truth I didn’t really want to either, but we both knew I was due a victory. I thought Charles did a good job – I remember my first Christmas without my mum.
        Joanna bought me a lovely present: it’s a flask they use in space, and it has Merry Christmas, Mum! Here’s to no murders next year engraved onto it. I wonder what they made of that in the shop? She brought flowers too, and the football chairman bought me a bracelet that I would describe as a nice thought.
        It’s lovely to open presents though. I bought Joanna the new Kate Atkinson book, and some perfume she had emailed me the name of, and I bought the football chairman some cufflinks, which I suspect he would also describe as a nice thought. I always put the receipts in with things. My mother used to do the same. But I don’t imagine he’ll be taking them back, as they were from the M & S in Brighton, and he always seems to be either in London or Dubai.
        Lunch with the gang today, so I finally managed to have my turkey and crackers. I insisted. You could see Elizabeth beginning to object to both, but she thought better of it, so I must have looked determined. However, I made what I suspect was an error by inviting Mervyn to join us. I keep thinking he’s going to melt, but I fear I might be barking up the wrong tree with this one. I just hope I can bark up the right tree one of these days. Before I run out of trees. Or before I stop barking altogether.
        We retired to Ibrahim’s flat afterwards, and Mervyn headed home. He revealed he has an online girlfriend, Tatiana, who he has never met but seems to be funding nonetheless. Ibrahim says Mervyn is a victim of ‘romance fraud’ and is going to speak to Donna and Chris about it. When do the police start work again after Christmas? Gerry used to go back somewhere around the 4th of January, but the police are probably different to West Sussex County Council.
        I will detail the presents we all bought each other.

        Elizabeth to Joyce – A foot spa. The one they advertise on TV. I am in it now. My feet anyway.
        Joyce to Elizabeth – M & S vouchers.
        Elizabeth to Ron – Whisky.
        Ibrahim to Ron – An autobiography of a footballer I hadn’t heard of. Not David Beckham or Gary Lineker.
        Ron to Elizabeth – Whisky.
        Joyce to Ron – M & S vouchers.
        Ibrahim to Elizabeth – A book called The Psychopath Test.
        Elizabeth to Ibrahim – A painting of Cairo, which made Ibrahim cry, so they have obviously had a conversation at some point that I wasn’t party to.
        Joyce to Ibrahim – M & S vouchers. And this was after Elizabeth’s present, so I felt I could have done better.
        Ibrahim to Joyce – M & S vouchers. Phew!
        Ron to Joyce – The Kama Sutra. Very funny, Ron.
        Ibrahim to Alan – A telephone that squeaks.
        Alan to Ibrahim – A clay tablet with Alan’s paw print on it. Ibrahim cried again. Yes!
        Ron to Ibrahim – A fake Oscar statue with My Best Mate on it. Which set us all off.

        We drank, we had a little singalong – Elizabeth doesn’t know the words to ‘Last Christmas’, if you can believe that? But then I suppose I don’t know the words to ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’. We listened to Ron rail against the monarchy for about twenty-five minutes, and then we went our separate ways.
        When I got back I unwrapped a present that Donna had sent me, which was lovely of her, as I don’t really know how much police constables earn. It was a little brass dog, which, if you squint, looks a bit like Alan. She bought it at Kemptown Curios in Brighton. It’s run by Stephen’s friend Kuldesh, who helped us in our last case. Sounds like my type of place. Perhaps I’ll visit, because now I have to buy Donna something in return. I do like having people to buy for.
        So, all in all, I’ve had a lovely Boxing Day, and am going to fall asleep in front of a Judi Dench film. All that’s missing is Gerry working his way through a tin of Quality Street and leaving the wrappers in the tin. Irritating at the time, but I’d give everything I own to have him back. Gerry liked the Strawberry Delights and Orange Crèmes, and I liked the Toffee Pennies, and if you want to know the recipe for a happy marriage it is that.
        Joanna gave me a big hug when she left and told me she loved me. She may be wrong about turkey and crackers, but she still has a few tricks up her sleeve. What is it about Christmas? Everything that’s wrong seems worse, and everything that’s right seems better.
        My lovely friends, my lovely daughter. My husband gone, his silly smile gone.
        I feel like I should drink to something, so I suppose let’s drink to ‘No murders next year’.

Enjoyed this extract from The Last Devil to Die? Let us know in the comments below…

Take a look at all Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club books in order here.

 

The Last Devil to Die

Richard Osman

The Last Devil to Die

Richard Osman

171 Comments

    September 1st tomorrow so not too long to wait

    Already ‘chomping at the bit’. I just love the characters. Just counting the days until September 14th now.

    Really enjoyed reading the extract and can’t wait until September. I have thoroughly enjoyed the previous books and would love to live in a place like Coopers Chase.

    Just read this extract and loved the little catch up, it’s whetted the appetite once again. Roll on September for the next caper..

    I am hooked already, roll on September so i can get stuck in!

    Try an audio book you can listen while on a journey.
    It takes up less space on the bookshelf and slips easily into a bag no weight at all.
    I have read and re read the set and something new captures the attention each time.
    Thankyou

    Oh I do hope when they screen this series they pick the right characters and not Americans with awful English accents. I’ve already imagined all of them and don’t want the series to ever end.

    What an excellent introduction to the new book, I’m so looking forward to reading the whole thing. I love all the characters , so beautifully drawn but it’s sad that Kuldesh had to be the first victim, he could have joined the ‘gang’!

    I was sad to get to the end of this extract, roll on September.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this extract. Fast paced and gripping. Good to be back with the Thursday Murder Club again. The extract has whetted my appetite for the book. September cannot come quick enough.

    Thank you Richard.

    I love reading your books and am eagerly awaiting this one which I have preordered.

    Yep, you’ve done it again!! Roll on September … xx

    I loved the first book but didn’t completely understand it. I got bogged down early in the second book just after it came out, and these extracts have aroused my interest again, so I might have another crack at book two. Very well written as usual, with great humour.

    Hi Richard. So glad that the gang is back together and it’s not long to wait before getting our hands on the new book. Having read the extract, I’m so looking forward to reading the whole book in September, and I will probably devour it over a weekend, with the dogs looking disgruntled as I curtail their walks in order to get back home and take up where I left off! Thank you so much for writing these books and more power to your pen, or is it the keyboard?

    Once I started reading your books o couldn’t put them down. I’ve read all 3 and they are brilliant. And reading this I’m sure I will be reading the whole book in one sitting, bring on September

    Brilliant, as we’ve come to expect. You may need to insert a preamble for the next one with a summary of key events in the gang’s evolution – think streaming video ‘recap’ – as some of us, like Joyce, are beginning to have a problem with medium-term memory.

    I got so absorbed that I momentarily forgot it was just an extract! Can’t wait!

    Oh, I’ve missed them!

    Chuckling away already and can’t wait for the big release 🙂

    Thank you, Richard Osman, for bringing them back to us.

    Can’t wait for September, I’ve missed the gang, please keep them coming Richard, they’ll be needed for the impending TV series which I’m sure will come along (I can’t wait to see if they choose the actors I’ve already got in my head to play the part!!)

    Wow! How wonderful!! Really need it to be September now (mostly for the sun as it usually appears when school opens…) Thank you Richard for the ‘hook’ you have succeeded in drawing me in and I look forward to Joyce trying and maybe actually getting somewhere (romantically?!?) with Mervyn. Another ‘dead good book!’ Love it…

    Oh i have missed the gang so much!! I can not wait for September!!

    Wow I just love richard’s books now, but wasn’t a fan to start with. I’d read two chapers of the first book and put it down not liking it and then forgot all about it as you do. some months later i’d broken my wrist and was off work for three months and was getting bored,so decided to try again to read the first book,and then the second book and also the third, I was now addicted to them and just couldn’t put them down, and then read the three chapters of book four. I can’t wait for it to be out. Thank you so much, and hope there will be many more books to follow.

    Great start. Can’t wait for September to read the rest.

    Hooked already and can’t wait to read the remaining chapters. Brilliant characters, great story lines, all so different but flow together so well. Richard Osman – brilliant presenter on TV and an even better author. Just need Spielberg to make the movies now 😁

    I’m hooked already and counting the days until ‘The last devil to die’ is released. I love your books, Richard.

    Oh you’re a slick businessman Richard! Of course I already have this book on order, having enjoyed the previous ones & the taster just whets the appetite.

    Loved these first chapters , it’s really great to hear from the gang again . I feel like i’m always a welcome visitor in Coopers Chase ….

    Had my copy on pre-order since it was announced in your newsletter and cannot wait to read it in September .

    Thank you Richard , sounds like another winner to me …. 🙂👍🏻🥰

    Just to let you know Mr Osman (although I would have thought that a man of you experience of the world and being able to grasp facts faster than Joyce’s eyes sparkle at a new romantic possibility) that we, in Australia, in the Antipodes, are in WINTER.

    Since we rid ourselves of British Governors and the Rum Corps we have actually established an education system that enables us to read – and to read the King’s English, what is more.

    So, next time you pen a newsletter, please take note that some of us are not experiencing dismal British weather at this time of year, we are, in fact, experiencing dismal Australian weather.

    By the way, keep the novels coming please.

    So tantalising! I love the whole series – such a brilliant mix of suspense and humour. Looks like you’ve nailed it again, Richard 😉

    Yes! Bring it on, loving this one already, not sure I can hold out until September now 😦 what can I read while I wait?, other stories will not compare.

    Richard, what a great teaser, the 3 chapters that is. I’m so looking forward to my signed copy of The Last Devil to Die so i can join Elizabeth and the gang as they navigate through the rest of this murder mystery. It will be my holiday read in September though I know I’ll have read it all on day one!!

    As good as ever. Can’t wait to get the book. Congratulations Richard .

    A wonderful continuation from the previous three novels. Very much looking forward to reading the whole book, and grateful for the ‘teaser!’

    Can’t wait either. I love the extract from the new book it made me laugh. Thanks Richard amazing as always! Looking forward to catching up with the gang again!

    Great read, can’t wait to read the rest. I have missed these characters so much.

    As always, interesting opening though September seems a long time away.

    I wish I hadn’t read the extract now! It’s going to be an excruciating wait!

    Your characters are amazing. A lesser writer would have made Elizabeth too cold and scary, but you always show her heart – and with just a few words. And you make me worry about Ibrahim as if he was my grandad, which is ridiculous because I’m only about ten years younger than him. And – but I’m babbling on. Love it and can’t wait for September. It’s like my own personal present – it’s arriving on my birthday!

    Can’t wait to be back with the gang again! Thanks for the preview. 😊

    This will be on my Christmas list so that I can enjoy Boxing Day with the gang in real time. Nothing beats Baileys, mince pies and a good book, especially if it involves characters whose company you enjoy along with a clever plot to keep you hooked.

    Thank you.
    Wonderful. Looking forward to reading this one.

    This is sounding good, looking forward to reading it! I just love these characters!!

    Brilliant as always. Don’t get excited about much but your books certainly get the blood flowing. Can’t wait.

    44 years old…..wishing I was 74 years old so that I could retire to Coopers Chase. Love the books, the humour, the wit, the laughs and the tears…can’t wait for September!

    I love these books and cannot wait to get completely involved with these wonderful characters again. Roll on September.

    I love these books and cannot wait to get completely involved with these wonderful characters again. Roll on September.

    The warmth, excitement, humour and reflective sentimentality is all there again! You are brilliant Mr Osman. Thank you – very much looking forward to my copy!

    I have been wondering what this coterie was up to! Can’t wait for September!

    Excellent extract, made me smile. I can’t wait until the book is released.
    Well done Richard, another classic in the making.

    I love the teaser of the new book! Looking forward to getting my signed copy that’s already pre-ordered.

    What a tease, can’t wait to see what the gang get up to next. I think we’re in for another great read, well done Richard.

    Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the first three Thursday Murder Club books, this taster was like slipping into a pair of well worn but comfortable slippers. Roll on September.

    Well this is on my birthday list! I so love these characters, can’t wait to meet them again in your next book. Thank you for all the laughs and some tears all found in the excerpt above.

    Well Richard, as I would have expected, looks like another ‘just got to read the next few pages’ masterpiece. Forever loving the characters, a truly wonderful eclectic mix that works so well

    Thanks for the preview, Richard. Surely another smash hit on your hands! Roll on September to meet up with the Gang again!

    I love these books. Looking forward to September.

    Fabulous, I’m already hooked and can hardly wait until September. Another hit on your hands there’s no doubt.

    You have hooked us all, Richard, clearly demonstrating that you are not only a kind, generous, creative talent, but also a shrewd businessman!

    Hooked already, I would love to retire to Cooper’s chase.

    Can’t wait to read this, so hard to put them down once you start. Just love all the character’s and the adventures they have. Roll on September

    Fabulous as always! It’s wonderful to read books where you like all the characters. I can’t wait until September 14th

    Can’t wait for the book. Being the same age (but not as agile) makes me want to be part of their gang 🤪🤪

    I’m hooked! Thought the third book would be hard to beat, but this one so far is looking good.

    Well! Looks like we are all in for another great adventure, Richard.
    Always grabs you from the off, and characters are like friends we haven’t seen for a while, and a nice catch up is on the cards , along with a cup of tea and nice piece of cake and intrigue.
    ❤❤

    I knew I should have waited for the book as now of course I am hooked already and just want to carry on reading ! 😂

    Looking forward to the release date.

    This book sounds exciting, I can’t wait to receive my exclusive edition and bury myself in the unfolding storyline.

    Why is September so far away? I want this now 😀
    I love these characters, they make me laugh (and maybe sometimes choke up a bit) I do hope you have loads more of their adventures up your sleeve Richard. Xx

    Loved it ….. and cannot wait to read those words again when I have the weight of complete book in my hand – well done, another good read to look forward to

    LOVED the extract. Can’t wait for the release date! Hoping there will be some “murders next year” though!

    Brilliant first three chapters! It was good to renew acquaintances again with my old friends from The Thursday Murder Club. I can’t wait to get me hand on the book!

    An excellent start, im hooked. Its lovely to have the gang back, oh Mervyn, you silly man.

    Fabulous as expected. Already fully engrossed. Roll on September…Quickly !!!

    Thanks for reeling me in. I can’t wait for September. Big fan of the gang

    Great taster, can’t wait for the rest of the book. The only trouble is I enjoy reading about the gang so much that I feel a bit deflated once I’ve read it as I’ve got to wait another year for the next one but that’s the sign of a really good book.

    Reading this extract makes me wish the whole book was ready to read now! I’m intrigued to find out more. Looking forward to getting a copy when it’s published and devouring it!

    Richard has such a great way with words that make you laugh out loud and also keep you in suspense. Looks like this will be another triumphant success!

    Can’t wait for September. Has ‘Tatiana’ anything to do with the ‘box’???? love all the characters but Joyce is my fav, naive but somehow manages to hit things on the nail.

    Well, Mr Osman, you can make me laugh and make me cry in the same sentence. So looking forward to this.

    All the warm feelings are back reading these chapters, what a treat! Thankyou!!

    Loved the little snippet into The Last Devil To Die
    can’t wait to get my copy which is on pre order ,
    another Winner Richard 🙂

    Love it, love it, love it!

    Oh, I’ve missed Joyce, and all the others too. I’m hoping Ibrahim will get to show what he can do this time …

    Loved the extract, but it will make the wait to September even more excruciating! Rather than a treat, it is an author’s torture of his readers. Can’t wait to read the full book. A year is far to long to wait, at least it’s only two more months now.

    Can’t wait for September 10th! Have decided to re read last book as I didn’t remember Kuldish. (I’m as old as your characters and
    probably should be in a home for the bewildered.

    Obviously loved the extract, goes without saying, I now have a few weeks to reread the three previous books before the latest arrives in my ‘books’, a yearly treat that I hope will continue for many years. No pressure Richard! I now categorise my friends as either Elizabeths, Ibrahims or Rons, but not Joyces because I am definitely Joyce 😂

    Three chapters in and avidly awaiting the release in September. I was hooked – again – after the first few lines. I am so very much looking forward to reading this cracking book! Once again, Richard Osman and his marvellous characters leave me wanting more.

    Really enjoyed this little taste of the next adventure with our friends from Coopers chase. Looking forward to buying it in September.

    I am counting the days. What a beginning looking forward to this book so much x

    You got me already, I want to know where this is going, can’t wait till September.

    I have pre ordered The Last Devil To Die and am excited for its release. I wish I didn’t have to wait to continue reading this book.

    Ooh… Starting with Kuldesh. You only introduced him in the last half the previous book!! Looking forward to reading this in full. I’m enjoying the format!

    Oh I love the start of this! Internet romance scams, drugs in dodgy places, but Kuldesh?😢

    Brilliant – good to be back with old friends again. Intriguing and inviting taster – thank you!

    Roll on Christmas, that’s when I will get my copy. My birthday is on Christmas day,so either way,roll on Christmas.😄 So engaging Just like the others,well written,short chapters,great when you have depression and concentration is not that good. Thank you for another wonderful story of the Thursday clubs antics.

    Thank you Richard, sound’s brilliant already, actually read it and Lesley Manvilles’ voices for the characters came automatically to mind, but slowly getting used to Fiona Shaw. Can’t wait for September 14th, best wishes

    I can’t wait!
    This book sounds like another brilliant story!
    I’m looking forward to getting my ebook before my daughter gets hers.

    Loved these chapters, great to have the gang back on form again. I’ve had a copy on pre-order and can’t wait to read it. Thank you.

    Ok I am ready now for the rest. Not sure how I feel as it will be the final instalment of the gang but all things must come to and end as they say. Roll on September. Who needs the summer anyway x

    Already hooked, well done Richard. Preordained.

    I can’t wait for the book to come out so I can read the rest. Hooked.

    I was drawn into the story immediately! And meeting the gang on Boxing Day and subsequently via Joyce’s diary was an absolute delight! I’m looking forward to the full story!

    The appetite is wetted roll on September!👍

    Oh my oh my don’t know if I should have read this as now September seems so far away my copy has been on order for a few months now . After reading this another winner it seems well done .

    It’ll be a long wait till September 14th, hooked already!! Richard Osman has done it again… though there was never any doubt he wouldn’t!! 👏👏 Great taster!! 😁

    With great anticipation I started reading the chapters of Mr Osman’s new book. As usual when I start reading a Thursday Murder Club book, I can’t wait for the next chapter, and then the next chapter. Its left me wanting to read more, and sadly I lack the patience to wait. Please hurry with publication.

    I’m hooked! I can’t wait to read the rest of the book. I’ve loved everyone so far.

    Laughed out loud at least adozen times! I can’t wait! I have SO missed the gang.

    I’ve been looking forward to your new book since I ordered it earlier in the year .Thank you so much for the preview, it has given so much already. These are my favourite gang of sleuths and so relatable,I love them all. Roll on 14th September – my husband’s birthday.He is a Welshman called Mervyn and we are originally from Swansea!

    Was hooked after the first chapter. Can’t wait for the release.

    Read the first two sections but stopped as I can’t beat to get more engrossed then have to wait! So looking forward to the release date!

    Ooh I love it – everything is nicely set up to roll along. I will probably re read the first 3 again in readiness. Please ask Richard not to take a break from these stories…. they are like old friends at this stage. Thanks again 😊

    OK. I’m hooked! 14th September cant come quick enough!

    You absolute tease.Cannot wait to read full book.Joyce as funny as ever,lol.

    Enjoyed reading the book and it has piqued my curiosity. Can’t wait to buy it
    I have recommended the previous books to my book club

    I instantly regret reading this as 3 chapters followed by a 2 month wait is just frustrating. Five stars ⭐️

    What a great start. Always grips me . Like bumping into old friends

    Superb writing as always, I almost felt that I was in the room with the gang. Roll on September.
    Thank you.

    Just CANNOT wait for this to come out!!! LOVED the previous books and got my nearest and dearest into them, too.

    Thank you for then taster Richard!

    Love it, love it, love it! Thank you, Richard. It’s like meeting up with old (in every sense!) friends again and I have missed them. Can’t wait for my pre-ordered copy to be available. I particularly like the Christmas presents. Lol. Congratulations! Clearly going to be another record breaking success. (Oh and obviously, Martin Sheen will play Mervyn!).

    Oh wonderful! So lovely to be back amongst the TMC group again! Can’t wait to read the rest. Thank you!

    Wonderfully evocative, yet succinct, descriptions of the characters through dialogue — and their Christmas presents.* Congratulations Mr Osman, you’ve cracked it again!

    *(But what did Joyce give Alan…?)

    I accidentally opened this email right before bed and now I have stayed up later than I intended. It was definitely worth it.

    Aww! Poor Kuldesh. We were only just getting to know him!

    Hooked! I knew I would be.
    Richard, you are a demon wordsmith!
    I’ve already pre-ordered and looking forward to the book arriving.

    That’s really whetted my appetite for chapter 4. Hoping my pre- order will arrive bang on time. Thank you Richard

    I’m hooked already! Can’t wait for the publishing date!

    Thank you soooo much for this!!!!! Now I really am anxious to read the book! Come on September!!!! I read the first three novels back to back in about two weeks! My husband had bought the set for me back in May for our 43rd wedding anniversary after many hints, declarations, and finally demands that this was all I wanted!! They really are addicting! Once you start reading, you just can’t put them down nor do you want to! I love murder mysteries and I’ve loads of them. It’s so nice to have these different, original characters. These older, obviously very smart, and really “real” characters. Characters you want to have tea with. Characters that make you sit and think (at least at my age-60!) that this is what I’d like to do when I’m older and in assisted living. Have friends like Elizabeth and Joyce and Ron and Ibrahim and help each other, go out to eat together, take shopping trips together, have tea together, and, oh yeah, solve a murder every now and then. Would I have their courage?? Maybe. But, in the meantime, I sure enjoy their adventures!! Hope Elizabeth and the gang live to be over 100 so the stories, mischief, and murder-solving continue for quite some time!!! Again, come on September!!!! And keep writing Mr. Osman!!!

    Spoilers are exactly that but having read these, I want to know what happens next. And that’s the thing about Spoilers isn’t it? They are also known as Tasters.

    I’m laughing and crying already! Absolutely love it.

    Now I’m looking forward to the whole book even more. Just as brilliant as the others!

    Wow can’t wait to start reading, thanks so much for the first three chapters.

    Brilliant, as always ! Can’t wait to get back with the gang! Roll on September!

    Appetite thoroughly whetted! It was like putting on an old pair of slippers. Very comfortable indeed.
    Thank you Richard 😊

    “No murders this year”. That would be a disappointment to readers I think. I enjoyed reading this and I look forward to getting the book when it comes out.

    Can’t wait for the book! Have loved the previous three 🙂

    Can not wait for September 14 – or shortly after when my book arrives !

    It took me straight back to feeling part of ‘the gang’. Can’t wait to read the full book 😃

    I can’t wait for the book to arrive. 😀👀

    I was impatient to get my copy of the new book, now I’m desperate to get it.

    Wonderfully written again.
    How vividly you described the relationship between an aging mother and her professional daughter, so much reminded me of myself and my daughter. What insight for a man to have. Love the details of the Christmas presents, like Joyce I like having someone to buy for.

    I can’t believe I let you get me back on the Thursday Murder Club hook and leave me hanging for months – when will I learn? It sounds great, and I can’t wait for the release!

    Ooooh I cannot wait. New book on Thursday 14th…getting married on Saturday 16th! I know what I will be reading on the plane when we go on honeymoon. Thank you, Mr Osman – you are fab!

    Oh so lovely to have The Gang back again! But now I have to wait to read on ……🤣 Roll on , September!

    Love it, can’t wait to get the book, already pre-ordered x

    I cant wait to read the rest…love the books and have also hot my daughter into reading them she’s now also a fan

    Oh I can’t wait to read this, but I’m going to have to as I’ve asked for it for Christmas. Flipping brilliant as always!

    Absolutely can’t wait for the 14th September.

    Cannot believe that I’ll have to wait 6 weeks to read the rest! Another cracker, Richard!👍

    Brilliant I can hardly wait to read it…
    I do have it on order.
    I love the continuity of these stories.
    I’m hoping this is a very long book.
    I love the characters humour, but it’s still very touching as well.
    Thank you for this little look in.

    My first book’s good reading. Bit dis-jointed but likely to grow on me. Good effort. I am in awe that you found time to write book No 4 being a busy person,
    Ross

    I am so excited about this next book, can hardly wait to read the rest of it. These books have been my absolute favourite since the first chapter of the first book. Wonderful. Always feel a little bereft when I’ve finished one.

    I am so excited about this next book, can hardly wait to read the rest of it. These books have been my absolute favourite since the first chapter of the first book. Wonderful. Always feel a little bereft when I’ve finished one.

    Looking forward to reading this in full. Richard, you’ve done it again.

    Looking forward to reading this in full. Richard, you’ve done it again.

    Mr Osman, you are a tease. I look forward to reading the whole continuing saga. Thank you and please start writing the next one if you haven’t already :0) x

    A lovely sense of anticipation mixed with “oh dear, here they go again”.

    How on earth am I supposed to wait until September. Loved this and am really looking forward to being back with Joyce and the gang.

    Can’t wait to read this book. I have them all and I absolutely love them. Richard, you are a master writer and know just what your readers love xx

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