22 July 2009

Review: ONE GOOD TURN, Kate Atkinson

Random House Australia, Transworld Publishers, September 2006, ISBN 9780552772440

This review is one of a number that I am re-publishing as they were originally published elsewhere, not on this blog.

When Paul Bradley brakes suddenly to avoid hitting a pedestrian he becomes the victim of road rage. The driver of the Honda behind him takes to Paul's car with a baseball bat, and then starts on Paul himself. Paul is saved by Martin Canning who throws his computer bag and hits the Honda driver in the head.

Among those who saw the incident is Jackson Brodie, retired police officer, in Edinburgh with his current girl friend for the Festival of Arts. Jackson decides that he does not want to get involved and leaves the scene without making a report, although he gives Martin his phone number. Martin however is not so lucky. His good deed leads him to wait in hospital for Paul to be released, and then he agrees to stay overnight with him to make sure he is all right.

In this cleverly woven web of violence and deceit, author Kate Atkinson draws together a number of those who witnessed the road rage incident. Even at the height of the Festival, and packed with tourists, Edinburgh can become a very small town indeed. We haven't seen the last of the Honda driver, nor of Jackson Brodie, nor even of Gloria and Pam who were among the bystanders. So finely are the threads between them drawn, that it comes as a surprise on the last page to discover how little actual time has passed. We have learned a lot about their lives, witnessed a couple of murders, and solved a few mysteries on the way. And right at the end, on the very last page, comes a twist that few readers will forsee.

ONE GOOD TURN is subtitled A Jolly Murder Mystery, and author Kate Atkinson certainly doesn't allow mystery, violence, and murder get in the way of a fine sense of humour. Several times I found myself smiling at a clever turn of phrase, and sometimes at the situations the characters have found themselves in.

Kate Atkinson introduced Jackson Brodie, ex-army, ex-police, and ex-private detective, in her bestseller CASE HISTORIES. With that novel she won the Saltire Book of the Year Award, and the Prix Westminster. In ONE GOOD TURN Jackson Brodie is almost an anti-hero, a bit of a rolling stone, but one that would like very much to be gathering some moss. I look forward to the next in this series.

My rating: 4.8

October 2006 Review first published on Murder and Mayhem

Mini-review of CASE HISTORIES: my rating 5.0
1970s: A young toddler goes missing in a Cambridge summer heat wave.
1980s:A teenage girl is brutally murdered in her father's law office.
1980s: A struggling young mother can't abide her screaming baby anymore and in a temper takes an axe to her husband.
Three shocking vignettes. Three grim case histories that begin this compelling and beautiful novel from Kate Atkinson.
The way Atkinson brings all these three case histories together through threads from the present in the investigations of Jackson Brodie is excellent.

My review of the next in the series: WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS? My rating 4.8

The Jackson Brodie series (list from Fantastic Fiction)
1. Case Histories (2004)
2. One Good Turn (2006)
3. When Will There Be Good News (2008)

Other novels
Behind the Scenes at the Museum (1995)
Human Croquet (1997)
Emotionally Weird (1999)


Dorte H said...

I am expecting quite a lot from this one. I have decided to read my library loot first, though.
In fact I probably enjoy having something really good waiting for me on my shelf which explains why I quite often postpone really promising books for weeks or even months.

Kerrie said...

You are probably like me, Dorte, so many good books waiting in the wings!

Table Talk said...

I enjoyed this more than the original, 'Case Histories', but that wasn't a universal view. What did you think?

Kerrie said...

My records show I gave CASE HISTORIES 5, TableTalk, so I guess it just nudged the other 2 out in my rating system


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