Monday, July 11, 2011

They Just Keep Getting Better: When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson, A Review

I will keep this brief because I have posted plenty about Kate Atkinson's thoroughly delightful Jackson Brodie books already, the earlier two being Case Histories and One Good Turn.  But I can't not post something about When Will There Be Good News because I found it the best of the three.

Jackson is no longer a private investigator, he is remarried and when the novel opens is on a hair-brained journey trying to find out if his ex girlfriend's son is his.  He starts out completely lost and becomes even more so as he is nearly killed in a horrific train crash.  A train he caught in error, no less.  The teenager girl who resuscitates him quickly involves him in her own quest to find her missing employer.

This effortless linking and weaving of plots, which to me is one of the hallmarks of Atkinson's writing, is mesmerising.  There is a great deal of subtly in Atkinson's characterisations, and wit and pathos.  She also holds a lot back, which is so unusual in any sort of modern mystery, and at other times she literally side swipes the reader with some utterly surprising but completely believable revelation.  It certainly kept this reader on her toes. 

And rather than become sick of Jackson, he is actually becoming far less like the modern day fictional detective/PI type and more nuanced, uniquely flawed, and completely captivating.  While overlapping mystery is at the heart of all three novels, each instalment is losing more and more association with anything to do with the crime fiction genre.  I am sure that is by design and by doing so Atkinson is showing us how really good she is.

Okay I am waxing on, but this series of books has been such a delightful discovery, and, I have the last one (to date) "Started Early Took My Dog" on the bookshelf, waiting to go.  I think I will delay that pleasure for a while yet.


  1. These are just so much fun to read aren't they! I am really hoping that we get to see the TV adaptation that has been done soon too.

  2. They really are fun Marg. I didn't realise there was a TV adaptation. That is good news :)

  3. I've tried to read Started Early Took My Dog (it was my bookclub pick) but just couldn't get into it. I've heard others as well as you rave about the books, which makes me think I should really give it another crack.

  4. Cozy in Texas - thanks for stopping by

    mummazappa - The books are reputed to be stand alone, but my feeling is it would be easier to read Case Histories first. I don't think you would need to read them in order after that, but it would give you an idea where she (Atkinson) is coming from with Jackson.


Comments are very welcome.