One Good Turn (Jackson Brodie Series #2)

( 119 )


"Atkinson's bright voice rings on every page, and her sly and wry observations move the plot as swiftly as suspense turns the pages of a thriller."-San Francisco Chronicle

Two years after the events of Case Histories left him a retired millionaire, Jackson Brodie has followed Julia, his occasional girlfriend and former client, to Edinburgh for its famous summer arts festival. But when he witnesses a man being brutally attacked in a traffic jam - the apparent victim of an extreme case of road rage - a chain of ...

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One Good Turn (Jackson Brodie Series #2)

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"Atkinson's bright voice rings on every page, and her sly and wry observations move the plot as swiftly as suspense turns the pages of a thriller."-San Francisco Chronicle

Two years after the events of Case Histories left him a retired millionaire, Jackson Brodie has followed Julia, his occasional girlfriend and former client, to Edinburgh for its famous summer arts festival. But when he witnesses a man being brutally attacked in a traffic jam - the apparent victim of an extreme case of road rage - a chain of events is set in motion that will pull the wife of an unscrupulous real estate tycoon, a timid but successful crime novelist, and a hardheaded female police detective into Jackson's orbit. Suddenly out of retirement, Jackson is once again in the midst of several mysteries that intersect in one giant and sinister scheme.
"Compelling and always entertaining." -USA Today

"One Good Turn crackles with energy and imagination." -Chicago Tribune

"Atkinson's tart prose sparkles." -Entertainment Weekly

"Entertaining both as a murder mystery and as a sprawling multi-character study in the best post-Nashville tradition." -The Onion

"A remarkable feat of storytelling bravado." -Washington Post

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Whitbread Award winner Kate Atkinson struck pay dirt with her fourth novel, the breakthrough Case Histories, a dazzling thriller that introduced the engaging detective Jackson Brodie. Now, to our everlasting delight, Atkinson returns her protaganist to active duty in this stunning sequel that opens rather spectacularly with a shocking incident of road rage on an Edinburgh street. Witnessed by Brodie and a motley crew of bystanders, this episode triggers a chain of bizarre events linking everyone -- victim, attacker, and specators -- in startling, unexpected ways. As in her other "literary" novels, Atkinson digs deep into her characters' lives, rifling through their sad and sinster secrets and exposing complicated relationships with deft precision. Suffused with wit and gentle humor, and enlivened by a folksy, "entre nous" prose style that turns readers into co-conspirators, here is One Good Turn that surely deserves another.
Stephen Amidon
… a remarkable feat of storytelling bravado …
— The Washington Post
Janet Maslin
In the past Ms. Atkinson has played the minor time trick of letting events almost converge and then replaying them from slightly different points of view. She does that here to the same smart, unnerving effect. And she frequently brings up the image of Russian dolls, each hidden inside another, to illustrate how her storytelling tactics work.

By the apt ending of One Good Turn a whole series of these dolls has been opened. In the process the book has borne out one of Jackson’s favorite maxims: "A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen."
— The New York Times

Publishers Weekly

A crowd on a busy street at Edinburgh's famous Fringe Festival witness a brutal crime. Downes has the task of portraying half a dozen characters who become entangled in the complex aftermath of what looks at first like a straightforward assault. A master of dialect, Downes portrays several characters from different classes and locales in England and Scotland with apparent ease. He also takes on, with gusto, the voice of a mysterious Russian woman. Exceptionally well performed is the voice of Martin Canning, a successful crime writer whose sleuth is decidedly more masculine than his creator. Downes has a firm grip on the swings in Martin's personality: he is by turns frightened and apologetic, yet cunning and secretive. Best known for his role in the British television series Babylon 5, Downes uses Atkinson's novel to display his range. He is aided by the seamlessly abridged text of a delightful crime novel that refuses to let the characters be merely victims or victimizers. For audio enthusiasts, this is a "must hear." Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Reviews, July 17). (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Publishers Weekly
Having won a wide following for her first crime novel (and fifth book), Case Histories (2004), Atkinson sends Det. Jackson Brodie to Edinburgh while girlfriend Julia performs in a Fringe Festival play. When incognito thug "Paul Bradley" is rear-ended by a Honda driver who gets out and bashes Bradley unconscious with a baseball bat, the now-retired Jackson is a reluctant witness. Other bystanders include crime novelist Martin Canning, a valiant milquetoast who saves Bradley's life, and tart-tongued Gloria Hatter, who's plotting to end her 39-year marriage to a shady real estate developer. Jackson walks away from the incident, but keeps running into trouble, including a corpse, the Honda man and sexy, tight-lipped inspector Louise Monroe. Everyone's burdened by a secret-infidelity, unprofessional behavior, murder-adding depth and many diversions. After Martin misses a visit from the Honda man (Martin's wonderfully annoying houseguest isn't so lucky), he enlists Jackson as a bodyguard, pulling the characters into closer orbit before they collide on Gloria Hatter's lawn. Along the way, pieces of plot fall through the cracks between repeatedly shifting points of view, and the final cataclysm feels forced. But crackling one-liners, spot-on set pieces and full-blooded cameos help make this another absorbing character study from the versatile, effervescent Atkinson. (Oct. 11) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Whitbread Award winner Atkinson puts a thoroughly enjoyable spin on this character-driven detective novel, the follow-up to Case Histories. After receiving a surprise bequest, quitting his job, and moving to a French village, former detective Jackson Brodie is torn between wanting to live a quiet, idyllic life and feeling purposeless. He's visiting Edinburgh with his self-involved, increasingly distant lover, Julia, who's acting in a minor play in an arts festival. At loose ends, Brodie witnesses a road-rage incident that sets off a dazzling chain of coincidences involving a hired assassin, a meek historical mystery writer, an obnoxious stand-up comedian, Russian prostitutes, and a loathsome real estate developer and his stoic, long-suffering wife. Atkinson skillfully links the characters to one another, revealing twists from their various points of view, and in Brodie creates a likable star. Once involved in the case, he reverts to a pleasingly take-charge, strong-but-silent type who will leave readers eagerly awaiting his next outing. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/06.]-Christine Perkins, Burlington P.L., WA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A murder mystery with comic overtones from the award-winning British storyteller. Resurrecting Jackson Brodie, the private eye from Case Histories (2004), Atkinson confects a soft-hearted thriller, short on menace but long on empathy and introspection. Her intricate, none-too-serious plot is triggered by an act of road rage witnessed by assorted characters in Edinburgh during the annual summer arts festival. Mysterious possible hit man "Paul Bradley" is rear-ended by Terence Smith, a hard-man with a baseball bat who is stopped from beating Bradley to a pulp by mild-mannered crime-novelist Martin Canning, who throws his laptop at him. Other onlookers include Brodie, accompanied by his actress girlfriend, Julia; Gloria Hatter, wife of fraudulent property-developer Graham Hatter (of Hatter Homes, Real Homes for Real People); and schoolboy Archie, son of single-mother policewoman Louise Monroe, who lives in a crumbling Hatter home. Labyrinthine, occasionally farcical plot developments repeatedly link the group. Rounding out the criminal side of the story are at least two dead bodies; an omniscient Russian dominatrix who even to Gloria seems "like a comedy Russian"; and a mysterious agency named Favors. Brodie's waning romance with Julia and waxing one with Louise; a dying cat; children; dead parents and much more are lengthily considered as Atkinson steps away from the action to delve into her characters' personalities. Clearly, this is where her heart lies, not so much with the story's riddles, the answers to which usually lie with Graham Hatter, who has been felled by a heart attack and remains unconscious for most of the story. There are running jokes and an enjoyable parade of neatresolutions, but no satisfying denouement. Everything is connected, often amusingly or cleverly, but nothing matters much. A technically adept and pleasurable tale, but Atkinson isn't stretching herself.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316012829
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 9/10/2007
  • Series: Jackson Brodie Series, #2
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 105,434
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Atkinson
Kate Atkinson lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, was named Whitbread Book of the Year in the U.K. in 1995, and was followed by Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Not the End of the World and Case Histories.
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Read an Excerpt

One Good Turn

A Novel
By Kate Atkinson


Copyright © 2006 Kate Atkinson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-316-15484-9

Chapter One

He was trying to drive and at the same time decipher his A-Z of Edinburgh to work out how to escape this hellish street, when someone stepped in front of the car. It was a type he loathed-a young, dark-haired guy with thick, black-framed spectacles, two days of stubble, and a fag hanging out of his mouth, there were hundreds of them in London, all trying to look like French existentialists from the sixties. He'd bet that not one of them had ever opened a book on philosophy. He'd read the lot-Plato, Kant, Hegel-even thought about getting a degree someday.

He braked hard and didn't hit the spectacles guy, just made him give a little jump, like a bullfighter avoiding the bull. The guy was furious, waving his fag around, shouting, raising a finger to him. Charmless, devoid of manners-were his parents proud of the job they'd done? He hated smoking, it was a disgusting habit, hated guys who gave you the finger and screamed, "Spin on it," saliva flying out of their filthy, nicotine-stained mouths.

He felt the bump, about the same force as hitting a badger or a fox on a dark night, except it came from behind, pushing him forward. It was just as well the spectacles guy had performed his little paso doble and gotten out of the way or hewould have been pancaked. He looked in the rearview mirror. A blue Honda Civic, the driver climbing out-a big guy with slabs of weight-lifter 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. He wouldn't have lasted a day. He was wearing driving gloves, ugly black leather ones with knuckle holes. He had a dog in the back of the car, a beefy rottweiler, exactly the dog you would have guessed a guy like that would have. The man was a walking cliché. The dog was having a seizure in the back, spraying saliva all over the window, its claws scrabbling on the glass. The dog didn't worry him too much. He knew how to kill dogs.

Ray got out of the car and walked round to the back bumper to inspect the damage. The Honda driver started yelling at him, "You stupid fucking twat, what did you think you were doing?" English. Ray tried to think of something to say that would be nonconfrontational, that would calm the guy down-you could see he was a pressure cooker waiting to blow, wanting to blow, bouncing on his feet like an out-of-condition heavyweight. Ray adopted a neutral stance, a neutral expression, but then he heard the crowd give a little collective "Aah" of horror and he registered the baseball bat that had suddenly appeared in the guy's hand out of nowhere and thought, Shit.

That was the last thought he had for several seconds. When he was able to think again he was sprawled on the street, holding the side of his head where the guy had cracked him. He heard the sound of broken glass, the bastard was putting in every window in his car now. He tried, unsuccessfully, to struggle to his feet but only managed to get to a kneeling position as if he were at prayer, and now the guy was advancing with the bat lifted, feeling the heft of it in his hand, ready to swing for a home run on his skull. Ray put an arm up to defend himself, made himself even more dizzy by doing that, and, sinking back onto the cobbles, thought, Jesus, is this it? He'd given up, he'd actually given up-something he'd never done before-when someone stepped out of the crowd, wielding something square and black that he threw at the Honda guy, clipping him on the shoulder and sending him reeling.

He blacked out again for a few seconds, and when he came to there were a couple of policewomen hunkered down beside him, one of them saying, "Just take it easy, sir," the other one on her radio calling for an ambulance. It was the first time in his life that he'd been glad to see the police.


Excerpted from One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson Copyright © 2006 by Kate Atkinson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 119 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 120 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2006

    A Potpourri of Characters in a Mystery Novel

    This tale opens with an incident of road rage, scary and all too real....but you are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Here you are exposed to romance, mystery, greed, parenting, relationships, sickness and funny characters. The threads all weave together very nicely, even though you are doubtful any of what you are reading will relate to the mystery here. And, there are some memorable people you do not want to leave when the story ends. Jackson Brodie...a man who deals with his emotions and shares his thoughts and is also quite the crime fighter to boot. And my absolute favorite, Gloria Hatter who is manipulated by life itself and very slowly starts to realize what a victim she allowed herself to be. Her life becomes her focus when her husband becomes 'ill' under rather unpleasant circumstances and Gloria begins to see exactly what is terribly wrong in the world. The mystery is solved and you find yourself very intrigued when all the people scheduled for demise wind up in the same room with the would make a wonderful scene for a movie. And, the cherry on top of this wonderfully sweet treat is Gloria's renewal and growth and her take charge attitude for her future. Just absolutley delicious...Read this book.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 11, 2010

    E-Book formatting is terrible

    Para-graphs are bro-ken up; full of hyphens in the mid-dle of sen-tences; question marks lit-ter the pages ? in random spots...WHO IS ? PROOFING THE E-EDI-TIONS OF YOUR BOOKS, BARNES??? & NO-BLE?

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2011

    Love the Character

    I saw the first books in the series brought to life recently on PBS. The books were a definite "must read" after that. Like the character, and love the wit and dry humor Atkinson injects - makes me laugh out loud even while I marvel at the situations in which these characters find themselves. Will continue reading the series.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    Voice performer Robin Atkin Downes is a more than proficient actor - he's equipped to narrate in some 40 dialects. Television aficionados recognize him for his appearances on Nash Bridges, Beverly Hills 90210, Buffy the Vampire slayer and others. His London stage performances include starring in Dracula, Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing, and more. He delivers a stellar reading of 'One Good Turn,' by Whitbread First Novel Award winner Kate Atkinson. What does a Good Samaritan get for his trouble? In the case of 50¿year-old Martin Canning, a second tier crime novelist who spends much time in wishful thinking, maybe a star in his crown but only a wealth of woes on this earth. Set in Edinburgh, Scotland, our story opens with a crowd of people witnessing what appears to be a minor bumper bash but quickly turns ugly. The driver of one of the vehicles jumps from his car and brutally attacks the other driver with a baseball bat. Just as a perhaps fatal blow is about to be delivered, someone in the crowd tosses a laptop case which deflects the attacker's aim. The tosser is Martin. For his life saving act, surely the most untoward thing he has ever done, Martin is robbed and worse. The crowd is quick to disperse, leaving listeners to believe that is the end of them. Not at all. Atkinson's magic pen brings them back, weaves them throughout her narrative in surprising ways. While we never know what life may hold in store, this author leads us on a fascinating journey of what it might. - Gail Cooke

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2013

    One Good Turn is the second book in the Jackson Brodie series by

    One Good Turn is the second book in the Jackson Brodie series by popular British author, Kate Atkinson. Fans of Case Histories who watched Jackson Brodie drive off into the French sunset will be pleased to encounter this flawed but very likeable character again. Jackson, living in France and still unaccustomed to wealth, is in Edinburgh because he is funding the play in which Julia Land is appearing for the Fringe Festival. He witnesses, along with a queue of others, an apparent attack of road rage. Later, he spies a dead body on a beach and tries to stop it from being washed into the Forth. Surviving near drowning and intensive police questioning, he is then attacked by a violent thug warning him off. But off what exactly? Once again Atkinson takes several apparently unrelated events and, with consummate ease, weaves them together to form a brilliant mystery. A great part of the story is narrated by other characters: the wife of a corrupt property developer; a crime novelist plagued by guilt; a teenage boy who likes to shoplift; and a Detective Inspector who is a single mother. Atkinson’s strength is her characters and some of their inner monologues are an absolute delight, filled with dry British (and often very black) humour and understatement. There is humour, too, in certain situations and dialogue, including several laugh-out-loud moments. Atkinson packs in plenty of action: attack by baseball bat, dog, knife and gun; strangulation, drowning, heart attack, drugging, grand theft, accidental death, a missing body, an assassin and some Russian dolls of the living and craft variety. There are quite a few echoes and twists in the plot, and the final one had this reader grinning from ear to ear. Add to all this, Atkinson’s wonderful prose: gems like “all she could remember about him was his great cloud of hair, like a dandelion clock.”  and “a small life lived in neutral gear” and this becomes a novel that is a joy to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 22, 2011

    Great read!

    Everyone comes together in this story, and even though it's a mystery, it's also funny

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 15, 2010

    Highly recommended

    Loved this book! Well developed and likable characters with wonderful twists and turns! Didn't want it to end.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    too much back story and not enough plot

    The core plot was intriguing. Unfortunately, there was so much back story to flesh out the characters, it really seemed more like page fillers. I found myself skipping paragraphs just to get back to the main story.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Outstanding author, good story

    This is the second book I have read by Kate Atkinson. She reminds me of our American author, John Irving. All the storylines throughout the novel are tied up neatly together at the end of the book. One trend I have noticed with many authors lately is having one or more Russian characters who are usually the bad guys. There was quite a varied cast of characters in this book. There were also variations on the long-suffering wife who comes out victorious. You do have to pay close attention as you read to keep the characters and storylines in order, but it is definitely worth the effort.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2007

    Don not know what the fuss is about

    I struggled to get through both her last 2 books. Won't be a third.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2007

    FUN, FUN, FUN!

    Plan on sitting down and reading the entire book as reading a chapter here & there will not deliver. I loved this book - it offered me everything I want - a crime mystery, humour especially, humanity & reality. Greatly woven characters. I was surprised that I could not predict anything in this book - finally a plot that is fresh & fun.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2015

    more from this reviewer

    I love Kate Atkinson¿s writing in One Good Turn, each chapter tu

    I love Kate Atkinson’s writing in One Good Turn, each chapter turned out like a new short story, polished to perfection, filled with character and plot, and smoothly carrying the story on to the next. Protagonist Jackson Brodie seems slightly darker than in the first novel, Case Histories, as if the rewards of luxury might be too much time to think dark thoughts. But he’s back on British shores, following Julia’s acting career on the road to the Edinburgh Fringe. There he meets a dead body, a female detective, temptation and mystery. But One Good Turn isn’t simply a Jackson Brodie story. It’s the story of each of its characters; of a mother, struggling with her teenage son; of a shy man thrust into the spotlight; of guilts long-hidden and festering; and of guilts too easily forgotten. One Good Turn is the tale of a woman scorned, a woman scorning, and a woman caught in between; or of a boy, a man, and a man still struggling to grow up. Perhaps it’s just a window into the unexpected lives of unlikely heroes and heroines, but if so the glass is astoundingly clear, and the view is enthralling.

    Unexpected road rage, unintentional death, unwanted heroism, unwilling assistance and unwelcome distractions all feed into this novel as each good turn leads to further demands, and each promise leads to betrayal. Each chapter is tightly woven, offering the perfect chance for distraction at its end, and the perfect promise of satisfaction to undistracted readers. I loved this book.

    Disclosure: I think it was a Christmas gift from a friend.

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  • Posted May 20, 2014

    highly recommended

    So well written and laugh out loud funny..a realpage turner...

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  • Posted December 11, 2013

    Loved the Action and Suspense!

    Kate Atkinson's way of interweaving lives is phenomenal! Could not stop turning the pages as the excitement seemed to have a steamrolling effect! Can't wait to read the next Jackson Brodie novel!

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  • Posted October 10, 2011

    Amateur effort

    While Case Histories was very good, One Good Turn is a failed effort as a mystery/thriller. The main character, Jackson Brodie, former cop and PI, witnesses a road rage incident. He can ID the culprit and gets license his plate BUT DOESN'T TELL THE COPS. Then he's attacked by the culprit BUT HE DOESN'T TELL THE COPS the guy who attacked him is wanted in the road rage incident. Instead, Brodie is arrested and he pleads guilty to assault. I'm not making this up. Atkinson did. If Brodie just said a couple of things to the cops, the book would come to an abrupt end. Instead, Atkinson, after hyping her hero as observant and smark, makes him stupid for no reason except to keep the plot going. She altered character to accommodate plot - an amateur mistake for novice mystery writers.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 30, 2011

    I love Kate Atkinson's books

    This is no exception.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 18, 2011

    Would not recommend

    Interesting twists and turns but a very disjointed book. Only grabbed me in the last 100 pages.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Fun Mystery!

    One incident at the beginning of this story ties a bunch of strangers together. Only they don't know it yet.

    Kate Atkinson's characters are fun, quirky, and completely unique. Individually and together, they carry the plot along many twists and turns. A master of mystery, Atkinson kept me guessing until the very end.

    This book has no serial killers, mass violence, or creepy, nail-biting suspense. Atkinson's talent for storytelling kept me turning the pages, [...] me in to her characters' world. No gimmicks required.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2009

    Kate Atkinson at her best

    It is hard to express just how much I loved this book. After reading Case Histories, I was excited to read another novel featuring Jackson Brodie and I was not let down. Like Atkinson's other novels, this one is full of snarky humor, with a touch of sadness, and a fantastic mystery at it's heart. The characters stayed with me long after I was through reading it and the thing that impressed me most about this novel, was how satisfied the ending made me feel. I absolutely loved this book.

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  • Posted August 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    the ripple effect...

    Sometimes, one event causes a ripple effect. This one tiny little occurrence causes people to come together who in other circumstances may never have met before. It also causes a chain of events that would otherwise never have happened. This story revolves around this ripple effect; a simple fender-bender at the beginning topples the very first domino.

    I loved the characters in this book. Each one was definitely unique and real at the same time. I could relate to bits and pieces of Gloria, Louise, Jackson...even Martin. I loved getting into their heads and understanding their thoughts and emotions, as well as seeing the same event from their different perspectives. I also enjoyed the pictures of the Edinburgh scenery that the author paints for her readers. I have been there before, and it was great to be able to place the characters on the street that I have walked or the castle that I have visited.

    The one downfall to this book was that the author was long-winded at times. In some parts she just talked too much. It did get a bit tedious, and we didn't really need that much information. The book could have been shorter and still brought the same idea across to her readers.

    All in all, it was a great mystery and the twist at the end is definitely intriguing. You find out the true event that really started it all, and then it all comes together like a finished puzzle. Toward the end, I became a bit concerned because I was about 10 pages away and the author was teasing me with the loose ends still flapping about, but once I turned the last page I breathed a sigh of relief and was happy.

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