One Good Turn - Jackson Brodie, Bk 2 Author:Kate Atkinson 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 ch... more »ain 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.« less
I had never read any of Kate Atkinson's books before. She is an excellent writer. This audio book is an abridgement, but I did not detect any disruption to the flow of the story. After hearing this audio book, I checked on other books she has written. Apparently Jackson Brodie, the main character in One Good Turn, is also a character in some of her others. He is a very likable character - an ex-cop, ex-private detective, and new millionaire. He can't keep himself from being drawn into the mystery, murder, and mayhem around him. Atkinson lives in Edinburgh and the story is set in that area. I frequently do not enjoy stories written by writers from Great Britain, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. The humor, idioms, etc., were easily understood and well-written. The reader of this audio book is Robin Atkin Downes. According to the cover, he is proficient in 40 dialects, and it really shows in his reading of this book! Frequently, British accents are difficult to understand, but not so here. His accents are great! Each character is distinct from the others, making the story easy to follow.
I read some other reviews of this book and, without fail, the people who said, "I can't stand this book--too many characters and too many plotlines" were also people who said that they didn't finish the book. Let this be a plea to any reader who picks up on of her books--stick with it! Trust me. This woman is one of the best plotters of fiction that I've ever read. By the time you're about 2/3 of the way through the book, I will bet that you won't be able to put it down.
If you haven't read any other reviews of this book yet, be aware that it's a sequel to another Kate Atkinson mystery called "Case Histories." You can certainly read this one without reading Case Histories first, but you'll lose a little bit of background of two of the characters.
Ellen H. (eeeee) reviewed One Good Turn (Jackson Brodie, Bk 2) on
Helpful Score: 2
An entertaining read, much like Case Histories (this is a sequel). The mystery was engaging and the writing good. I like that Atkinson seems to be developing Brodie as a returning character, but his point of view doesn't dominate the narrative. She fleshes out a lot of characters even though they will probably not be series regulars. The extreme interconnectivity/ high number of coincidences in the plot lines was a bit much, but Atkinson seems to recognize that, so it wasn't a real nuisance.
Jackson Brodie, the Case Histories detective who reopened three cold cases and wound up a millionaire, follows his actress girlfriend to Edinburgh where she is performing in a play during the Fringe Festival. While his girlfriend is rehearsing, Brodie manages to get in all sorts of trouble. Paul Bradley gets rear-ended in the street, and when he gets out of his car, the other driver takes a baseball bat to him. Walter Mittyesque writer Martin Canning saves Bradley's bacon by swinging his laptop case at the man trying to hit a home run. Not only is Brodie a witness to all this, so is Gloria Hatter, wife of Graham Hatter, the crooked millionaire property developer. Brodie walks away, convinced that there are plenty of other witnesses to the road rage, but he's soon dragged back in by police detective Louise Monroe. There is your cast of characters, and they each have their own story to tell. Two things that must be remembered are: (1) nothing is coincidental, and (2) everyone is involved.
Kate Atkinson is a genius at putting together the most unlikely set of characters and hanging a plot off them. Bits and pieces of her design sometimes fall through the cracks because of the shifting points of view, but it all comes together brilliantly. Her talent for characterization is wonderful:
"She hauled herself out of bed and padded along the hall, where she opened the door to Archie's bedroom-- she just needed to be completely sure that the nightmare had been a nightmare. Both boys were sprawled in sleep, Archie in his bed, Hamish in a sleeping bag on the floor. The room stank of boys. Louise imagined a girl's room would smell of nail varnish, pencils, cheap candy sweets. Archie's room was essence of testosterone and feet. In the gloom, she could just make out the rise and fall of Archie's breathing. She didn't bother examining Hamish for signs of life, boys like him should be culled as far as she was concerned."
Atkinson gets so far inside the heads of her characters that I think I would recognize each one if I met them on the street. This "inside the head" method of characterization is one of the best ways to get me hooked, and to get me to care about these people who only exist on the printed page. More than once I found myself talking to a character who began to do something I thought was rather ill-advised.
If you love mysteries with intricate plots and quirky, fully-fleshed characters, you won't go wrong by giving Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie books a try!