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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Richard Osman and the appeal of cosy crime

In mid-September, game-show-host-turned-novelist Richard Osman released the fourth book in his bestselling Thursday Murder Club series, The Last Devil to Die. It’s already become the fastest-selling hardback novel by a British author in UK history.

Osman’s works are the most popular in a genre dubbed ‘cosy crime’. In these stories, a murder has been committed and a sleuth sets out to discover whodunnit. But this isn’t gritty noir. There’s usually a pleasant rural setting and an amateur detective, and the bloodless murder is rarely dwelt upon. Most importantly, there’s a satisfying conclusion in which the mystery is solved, and justice is served. Osman even speaks about the ‘humour and warmth’ in his writing – terms not commonly associated with crime.

In a world full of violence, where headlines and TV series alike feature unfathomable crimes, perhaps it’s little wonder we’re drawn to their cosier counterparts. Osman’s stories, and those like them, offer us a version of reality in which order defeats chaos, mysteries can be solved, crimes are met with punishments, and justice triumphs.

It is, of course, God’s ultimate justice that motivates our desire for stories that provide resolution. We all long for the perfect combination of comfort and vengeance – and this can only come from the God who hates wrongdoing and loves justice (Isaiah 61:8).

But in cosy crime, God doesn’t provide the solution. There’s not even a professional, hyper-intelligent detective like Sherlock Holmes. Instead, resolution is found by members of the community who might otherwise be overlooked. Osman’s heroes are a group of pensioners living in an upmarket retirement village. Cosy crimes show us that even the least of us can be part of putting things right.

Few of us will become sleuths, but we can all embed ourselves in our local communities and, through attentiveness, prayer, and discernment, recognise areas of injustice. Indeed, we are both the agents and the beneficiaries of God’s plan to bring good news, freedom, restoration, and joy to our world (Isaiah 61:1–6).

So, can you slow down and pay attention long enough to see what’s really bothering that friend, colleague, or neighbour? When you read the news headlines, will you pray for justice and mercy to triumph? Or perhaps humour and warmth could change the tone of a conversation this week. In each of these situations, you’re living as a sign of God’s kingdom – a kingdom that is far from cosy, but that meets the deepest cravings of our crime-consumed culture.

Rachel Smith
Rachel is a part-time writer and a full-time mum. She attends King’s Church Durham.



  1. There are similar themes in Richard Osman’s Thursday Detective Club series to Chesterton’s Father Brown. Justice served and sometimes repentance and redemption.
    Not all of life has to be bleak and meaningless which is often the theme Scandi noir .

    By David  -  20 Oct 2023
  2. Thanks for the reminder, and may more of us live our ordinary lives as signs of God’s kingdom!

    By Gary Nielsen  -  20 Oct 2023
  3. May this encourage more of us to live our ordinary lives as a sign of God’s kingdom!

    By Gary Nielsen  -  20 Oct 2023

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