Richard Osman’s second book is one of the fastest-selling novels since records began

The Pointless presenter’s second crime novel, The Man Who Died Twice, has sold 114,202 copies in its first week on sale

Richard Osman’s follow-up to The Thursday Murder Club, The Man Who Died Twice, has become one of the fastest-selling novels since records began.

Published on 16 September, The Man Who Died Twice continues the adventures of Osman’s gang of elderly sleuths, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron. It sold 114,202 copies in its first three days on sale last week (including pre-orders), according to Nielsen BookScan – a performance which the sales monitor said made it one of the fastest-selling novels since it began to track sales in the late 1990s.

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman. Photograph: Penguin

Since then, just four hardback adult novels have sold more in their first week on shelves: Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol (550,946 sold in its first week) and Inferno (228,961), JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy (124,603), and the late Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman (168,455).

Last week, Sally Rooney’s third novel Beautiful World, Where Are You topped the UK’s charts with sales of 46,065 copies. This week, Rooney’s novel sits at No 4 in the overall charts, with 19,782 copies sold. Bob Mortimer’s And Away… sits behind Osman in second place, having sold 42,094 copies.

Osman also topped the paperback charts last week with The Thursday Murder Club, which sold 23,966 copies last week. The last time an author scored a double fiction chart No 1 was in March 2017, when James Patterson’s 16th Seduction topped the hardback fiction chart and Never Never topped the paperbacks list. The Thursday Murder Club has sold more than one million copies since it was published in September last year, and has spent 45 weeks at the top of the fiction bestseller lists.

Osman said he was “so hugely thrilled” at the sales. “This is beyond our wildest predictions. My love and thanks to all the readers, all the amazing booksellers and to Joyce, Elizabeth, Ibrahim and Ron,” said the author and Pointless co-host.

“It’s wonderful to see how many people have fallen in love with Richard’s fabulous Thursday Murder Club and simply couldn’t wait to read the next instalment,” said his publisher Joanna Prior, managing director of Penguin General. “The response to these characters and the crimes they solve from readers around the world has been extraordinary and it has been a joy to work with retailers to make publication week such a big moment for everyone to share in.”

The Man Who Died Twice opens as the four members of the Thursday Murder Club consider “the cold case of a Hastings newsagent who murdered an intruder with a crossbow”. Elizabeth, however, is distracted: she has received a letter from an old acquaintance who needs her help, and she and her friends soon find the bodies mounting up. Reviewing it in the Guardian, Lynne Truss found that “a sense of jeopardy is entirely absent”, but added that “if you are happy to let other pens dwell on guilt and misery, you can relax and enjoy this novel, which is superbly entertaining”.

Nielsen Book Research’s Philip Stone said that Osman was a “publishing phenomenon”. “In recent memory we’ve seen hugely successful titles inspire long-term trends within crime fiction – Stieg Larsson’s success leading to a boost for Nordic noir, Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train stimulating the market for psychological thrillers,” said Stone. “It will be interesting to see whether Osman’s success leads to a glut of cosy crime caper publishing.”

At Waterstones, Rooney’s Beautiful World was still topping the charts, narrowly followed by The Man Who Died Twice. But buyer Bea Carvalho predicted that Osman’s second novel would overtake Rooney soon. “It’s pretty good to have two mega autumn bestsellers already arrived and outperforming expectations – it’s a great start to the autumn,” she said.

For Carvalho, Osman’s appeal lies in his novels “treading that balance between smart and accessible so brilliantly”.

“He has such strong appeal for real fans of the genre, but also for people who maybe only usually buy one book a year,” she said. “Obviously, his profile really helps to hook those new readers in, but then the fact that it was so good, and such a smart, sharp piece of storytelling in its own right, means that, actually, it became a bit of a word-of-mouth hit. It could have easily been a bit of a celeb book that just did what it did in week one, but the quality speaks for itself and it kept going and has just been absolutely massive.”


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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