It is summer, it is the Edinburgh Festival. People queuing for a lunchtime show witness a road-rage incident - an incident which changes the lives of ...Show synopsisIt is summer, it is the Edinburgh Festival. People queuing for a lunchtime show witness a road-rage incident - an incident 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 suspect. With "Case Histories", Kate Atkinson showed how brilliantly she could explore the crime genre and make it her own. In "One Good Turn", she takes her masterful plotting one step further. Like a set of Russian dolls, each thread of the narrative reveals itself to be related to the last. Her Dickensian cast of characters are all looking for love or money and find it in surprising places. As ever with Atkinson what each one actually discovers is their true self. Unputdownable and triumphant, "One Good Turn" is a sharply intelligent read that is also percipient, funny, and totally satisfying.Hide synopsis
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You will enjoy this suspense tale by Atkinson not only for the mystery plot but also the wry humor with which she laces her novels. You become interested in the characters as well as the storyline. Her previous novel Case Histories is also one you will want to read if you enjoy this one.
Okay, the novel received EXTRAVAGANT praise. Okay, I began to read it with enormous anticipation and the prose is superb. But. . . It wasn't the stream-of-conscious details of each character's thoughts that weighed me down, although enough IS enough. It was the dampening effect of their personalities. The beginning incident--the one to which all plot points return--is the rage generated in one driver when his car is bumped by another car, rage intensified when his vicious response is prevented by an onlooker. The action, witnessed by a collection of characters, takes place outside a theatre during Festival Week in Edinburgh. These characters--and the amazing tedium of their lives--circle the initial incient as they carry the plot in its many directions: money laundering, construction fraud, career failure, cheating husbands, and on and on. The "hero"--apologies to Greek classics--is retired detective Jackson Brodie, bored with money, bored with life, obsessed by a theatrical pretender. This relationship isn't going anywhere. None of them are. The plot winds up answering the crime questions by connecting--maybe too coincidentally, maybe too much according to the author's Fate-driven plot diagram--the various secrets of the tedious characters. Possibly this is all we can expect. But these people are SO SAD. No one has hope. Is it Edinburgh? Is it life? Is that all there is? (Apologies to Peggy Lee). Ian Rankin's John Rebus, ornery as he is, makes it through the dark and doom of his native city without the pervading numbness of Kate Atkinson's people. I know. I know. It got such great reviews.
I greatly enjoyed this sequel to Case Histories, which i also loved. The characters are vivid and sympathetic -- I like the way she moved the narrative point of view around, so that the story unfolds through multiple perspectives. The Edinburgh setting was beautifully evoked. i have to confess I had a bit of trouble with tying up the ends of the plot -- but maybe that was just me. Anyway, the perhaps insufficiently-prepared-for denouement was a small drawback in this mystery, which is ultimately more about the people and their different kinds of loneliness and disappointment than it is about whodunit.
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