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.
… a remarkable feat of storytelling bravado …
The Washington Post
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
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
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.
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.