It Is Summer, It Is The Edinburgh Festival People Queuing For A Lunchtime Show Witness A Road Rage Incident A Near Homicidal Attack Which Changes The Lives Of Everyone Involved Jackson Brodie, Ex Army, Ex Police, Ex Private Detective, Is Also An Innocent Bystander Until He Becomes A Murder Suspect As The Body Count Mounts, Each Member Of The Teeming Dickensian Cast S Story Contains A Kernel Of The Next, Like A Set Of Nesting Russian Dolls They Are All Looking For Love Or Money Or Redemption Or Escape But What Each Actually Discovers Is Their Own True Self Oh my I knew I enjoyed this series the first time I read it but I did not really remember why On this reread I recall that the first reason is Jackson Brodie himself He is an absolute teddy bear and silly Julia does not recognise a really good man when she sees one.Secondly of course is the writer s skill She draws detailed, apparently unrelated, characters and throws them into a succession of different scenes As the book progresses the reader gets glimpses of coincidences and possible solutions but you have to wait right to the end to find out all of the facts And some of them turn out to be very surprising indeed The Edinburgh setting for this book does it no harm either I thoroughly enjoyed visiting many of the sights with Jackson and was entertained by his impressions of the Fringe Festival I really enjoyed it all and am ready now for book three. 5 Somehow it seemed unlikely it was a coincidence What had Jackson said A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen. Kate Atkinson is one of my favourite writers, and the quote above describes the nature of her Jackson Brodie mysteries There are seemingly random incidents and events involving separate characters around whom Atkinson builds back stories Not for every character, but for the ones we re going to become interested in, even if we don t know why.Jackson is in Edinburgh with girlfriend Julia for the Fringe Festival, where she is performing in a low budget, dreadful play which Jackson has helped to bankroll with his unexpected windfall inheritance With his windfall, he d also bought a place in France, which he now considers home, but he still misses his young daughter and ex wife, although we don t see them this time around.While Julia s rehearsing, he s amusing himself with the sights of Edinburgh and stumbling across things you and I wouldn t A dead body, for example.But I m ahead of myself The book opens with a case of road rage Serious road rage, and it happens in the middle of the day, right in front of people queuing to go into various festival events, and Jackson, who was just leaving Julia s theatre.Ray is the driver of the first vehicle He looked in the rear view mirror A blue Honda Civic, the driver climbing out big guy, slabs of weightlifter muscle, gym fit rather than survival fit, he wouldn t have been able to last three months in the jungle or the desert the way that Ray could have done He wouldn t have lasted a day We get some back story on Ray Then there s Martin Martin has chucked his laptop at the driver of the second car who is just about to beat Ray to death, jungle training or no jungle training Martin has shocked himself.Atkinson gives us a fair bit of Martin s background a timid child, a quiet man, but a surprisingly successful author of cosy mysteries under pseudonym, Alex Blake We learn a lot about Martin, while waiting to see what s happening in the road, but I never mind Atkinson s diversions I like her people too much And she brings us back to the incident Martin tried to make himself an anonymous figure in the queue, tried to pretend he didn t exist He closed his eyes He had done that at school when he was bullied, clinging to an ancient, desperate magic they wouldn t hit him if he couldn t see them Also nearby is Gloria, whom we will come to know very well later She s been dragged along by a friend to a comedy show she s not looking forward to, but she s fine with lining up to wait Queuing was like life, you just shut up and got on with it It seemed a shame she had been born just too late for the Second World War, she possessed exactly the kind of long suffering spirit that wartime relied on Again, we are diverted into Gloria s life with her husband who became rich building dodgy houses And again, I didn t mind the diversion.So where s former detective Brodie He s been trying to escape the rather dingy venue where Julia and the cast are gathered to rehearse Theatre for Jackson, although of course he would never say this to any of them, was a good pantomime, preferably in the company of an enthusiastic child He s escaped outside just in time to see the action Martin s laptop has clipped the shoulder of the attacker, who s just driven off, while self described superman Ray is curled up bashed and bleeding on the ground Martin is talking to him as the police arrive, so Jackson isn t needed By this time, we know a fair bit about several people, none of whom know each other and each of whom we will follow with interest, I must add , to find out how they become connected to Jackson and Julia.I read this several years ago, and while I remembered some scenes, it was just as much fun this time around Because Atkinson writes such whole people, it s good to see them again She ties up all the plot threads nicely, and if you were watching it like an old movie, you d find yourself saying things like Look behind you See that guy That s the guy you re looking for But of course, only we know that because we read someone s story There s no way Jackson Brodie would know it In this case, what he said in the opening quotation applies A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen I must say, the sights of Edinburgh are nice, but because it s Festival time and there is no accommodation available, the hotels we see are dreadful He was not alone in his shoebox cell, however The first night he was there he got up to go to the bathroom and almost stood on a cockroach pasturing on his bedroom carpet Detective Sergeant Louise Monroe is a major character, interesting as a woman, a single mother with a surly 14 year old son and an ancient cat Her love life has been stifled, now that her son is a teen and she has no privacy to speak of She adores him but has no idea how to handle him Who does They said love made you strong but in Louise s opinion it made you weak It corkscrewed into your heart and you couldn t get it out again, not without ripping your heart to pieces The front door crashed open and was slammed shut again Archie s passage through the house was marked by the noise of things thrown and dropped and walked into He was like the ball in a pinball machine He exploded into the kitchen, nearly falling over his own feet After he was born the midwife said,Boys wreck your house, girls wreck your headArchie seemed intent on doing both I ve included so much of the background because this is not a quick pot boiler mystery This is a wonderful, complete work of fiction, and even if you can t find the first in the series, Case Histories, you can certainly enjoy this one anyway They are fun read in order, but rules are meant to be broken, aren t they it took me long enough to finish this one, which says a lot i m the person who will willingly give up sleep, food, social interaction and general human like activities to read a good book i really liked kate atkinson s case histories it s been awhile since i read it, but it left enough of an impression that i was willing to dive into this one with little knowledge of what it was about, or what people thought of it all in all, it had a very slow start for me in fact, that was the biggest obstacle the first 100 pages or so left me unmotivated to continue once i was in the middle things picked up, but by the end i was just waiting to get to the last page i love a good mystery, but something was lacking here the characters were odd, and not exactly in a good way things were made needlessly complicated with too many characters, and behind the sheen of the mystery, there was a distinct lack of sincerity in this book that i found in case histories and really missed here i didn t find myself particularly caring about the secret behind all the seemingly random events that were actually tied together and without that, there wasn t much to grab onto. This is the second novel in the series of which ex soldier, ex police officer and newly wealthy ex private detective Jackson Brodie is the chief protagonist Just as in the first book in the series, Case Histories, the story is told from the point of view of a number of different characters, whose lives intersect with and whose actions directly and indirectly affect each other A recurrent image in the novel is that of Matryoshka dolls the Russian dolls which fit inside each other The image is particularly appropriate to describe the way in which the various strands of the plot come together and like Matryoska dolls, Atkinson s characters are intricate and colourful The mystery is really not the point of this novel, although there is a final twist which was satisfying, if not a huge surprise What I enjoyed most are the language and the characters Atkinson gives her characters individual and very quirky voices and uses internal monologues to great effect Atkinson s prose is clean and crisp She also uses humour particularly well and there are some genuine laugh out loud moments I love the fact that Atkinson does not write straightforward crime novels, even though the plot centres on traditional crime fiction themes If Atkinson writes to a formula, then it is her own formula, not a set of rules for mystery writers I m very much looking forward to the next book in the series Jackson Brodie is a most attractive character and it will be a while before I tire of either him or of Atkinson s style Another fun buddy read with my friend Jemidar. I love Kate Atkinson and I particularly love her Jackson Brodie series.A series of seemingly unrelated incidents draw the retired Jackson into a tangled web, earning him his first criminal conviction, and galvanising him into action.An excellent read. I remember a scolding from one of my high school English teachers to the effect that my classmates and I should only read books that made us better people and stop wasting our time with the other stuff I m not sure Atkinson s Jackson Brodie novels would rise to her standard They re probably frustrating for mystery readers who value focused, logical plots and a clear sense of right and wrong in a novel, too But I love these books Atkinson s writing, her characters, and her observations of the world are wonderful in every way sometimes laugh out loud funny, sometimes disturbing, sometimes melancholy, always smart The plots ramble all over the place and rely on coincidence and irony too much by half, but I have such a good time with the reading that I don t care This particular novel took me a few chapters to get into Atkinson has a bad habit of introducing a character caught up in a dramatic moment and then freezing the action for too many pages while she lays out the character s backstory I also had a hard time sorting out the characters at first they all talk to themselves in the same quirky voice, which makes them hard to distinguish on the page But once the story gets going, it s riveting, and all along the way, Atkinson s writing is a joy to read One Good Turn is a great pick for vacation reading, or a long plane ride any environment that allows uninterrupted reading. I love Kate Atkinson s mischievous, self deprecating, knowing wit who else but a supremely confident writer, on her fifth novel, the second to feature Jackson Brodie, could introduce a character as a walking clich , or have a dissatisfied wimpy writer of jolly crime fiction as a main protagonist, or be unafraid to point up how weird it is that all the characters keep meeting each other, how connected they are, like Russian dolls, layer within layer, doll within doll And how does she turn a sound crime story into literary fiction Well, partly through that self reference, that nod to the fictionality of what she s doing, and partly by caring enough about the individuals who people her tales to give them a truly authentic back story, and to spend some time on creating it And still never losing pace And at the same time, she keeps you guessing as to the intended victim, and the contracting party of the hit man who appears to have been forgotten There he is at the beginning, but then we lose sight of him until right at the end re enter contract killer and the shock is not only who he kills, but who s paying him Wow Kate Atkinson continues her Jackson Brodie crime fiction series in her own original style of indepth characterisation, case studies if you will, and with plentiful doses of wit and humour There is a road rage occurrence outside a Fringe Theatre at the Edinburgh Festival, a theatre in which Brodie s actress girlfriend, Julia, is performing Amongst numerous others, Brodie, in a queue observes the incident What we get from the author is a major focus on the circumstances and interior lives of a random range of characters, including Brodie, a crime fiction writer, a female police detective sergeant, and the spouse of a rich builder under investigation None are known to each other, but as the narrative continues, coincidences arise, it appears good acts come back to bite and connections begin to emerge Through circuitous routes, the characters stumble towards who they are, even if that is not what they are seeking A great read and a great series Thanks to Random House Transworld. ONE GOOD TURN by Kate Atkinson begins with a road rage incident involving one crazy guy beating a man with a baseball bat and another man, a wimpy writer of popular crime novels, knocking the crazy guy down with his laptop computer From there we meet all sorts of seemingly unrelated characters who all become connected.It s actually a pretty good and simple story But here s what I guess happened.My guess is that Atkinson had a pretty good short story Someone publisher, editor, agent, whoever told her she had to give them a book length novel So she took this perfectly good short story and padded it And the result is ONE GOOD TURN.Open this book to almost any page except the last few , and you ll see it One line, occasionally one or two paragraphs, of the story sandwiched between paragraphs of padding Whatever happens reminds a character of something else that reminds the character of something else Then back to the story soon to be followed by padding.I had intended to read another book by Atkinson Now I won t.
Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and she has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since.She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories,
- 448 pages
- One Good Turn
- Kate Atkinson
- 14 January 2019 Kate Atkinson