While I might have chosen to get cosy at Bloody Scotland 10 days ago, an unwelcome encounter with the beast codenamed C19 which followed swiftly thereafter, meant that all I wanted last week was a book with plot and a shed load of entertainment. This prescription was supplied in full by Richard Osman’s third Thursday Murder Club mystery. You could say that it was a bullet that didn’t miss.

Admittedly I didn’t laugh as much as I did through the first two, but my funny bone was awol (understandable given the circumstances forced me to cancel a much anticipated holiday). Still it could have been worse. My pre-vaccination encounter with the virus wiped me out for a month. This episode saw me take to my bed for 3 rather unpleasant days. I’m fine now … just waiting for the catarrh and the second test line to disappear.

Back to the novel, which follows Osman’s pre-established formula. The Thursday Murder Club is made up of 4 residents of Cooper’s Chase Retirement Village. These pensioners are a skilled bunch, comprising of an ex-MI5 operative, a former Scargillian union leader, a retired psychotherapist and Joyce with her ever ready supply of tea and biscuits. They are ably assisted by a tattooed Bosnian handyman and two sidekicks from the local constabulary. I’m not going to say much about the case of the vanished journalist, who got tied up in a VAT fraud involving 10 million pounds, because of spoilers. What I will say is I have to admire Osman’s control over his ever growing cast, which is now expanding beyond prison walls and international borders.

In solving this 3rd mystery, the core team are joined by the drug baron they nailed in mystery #2, an ex-KGB officer and a Swedish cryptocurrency money launderer, nicknamed “The Viking”. Is this preposterous? Of course, it is. But so is the whole concept of the series. If you want verisimilitude, read elsewhere.

That said, reality is to be found. Osman turns out to be a bit of a softie with a penchant for match-making. Slowly but surely, most of his cast are building happy new partnerships. Age being no obstacle. Yet at the same time, losses are inevitable and Elizabeth, the ex-MI5 spy, is losing her husband, Stephen, to dementia. Osman portrays Stephen’s decline with a light touch in small but significant details. I haven’t cried yet. I suspect tears will fall during #4. Making Stephen’s crucial contribution to the resolution of this mystery all the more bittersweet.