One Good Turn: (Jackson Brodie)

One Good Turn: (Jackson Brodie)

Book rating: 05 Paperback Black Swan

By (author) Kate Atkinson

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  • Publisher: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback | 544 pages
  • Dimensions: 126mm x 196mm x 38mm | 360g
  • Publication date: 16 December 2006
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0552772445
  • ISBN 13: 9780552772440
  • Sales rank: 9,644

Product description

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.

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Author information

Kate Atkinson's One Good Turn was the second novel after Case Histories to feature the former private detective Jackson Brodie. He made a welcome return in When Will There Be Good News? (voted Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year) and in Started Early, Took My Dog. The first three Brodie novels were adapted into a successful BBC TV series starring Jason Isaacs. Kate won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year prize for her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and has been a critically acclaimed author ever since. She was appointed MBE in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Customer reviews

By Marianne Vincent 01 Sep 2013 5

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.

Review quote

"An absolute joy to read...the pleasure of One Good Turn lies in the ride, in Atkinson's wry, unvanquished characters, her swooping, savvy, sarcastic prose and authorial joie de vivre." Guardian "Atkinson is frequently very funny...while the tone stays light, the plot continues to darken...manages to be that rarest of things - a good literary novel and a cracking holiday read" Observer "Atkinson, while having fun with the murder-mystery genre, slyly slips us a muted tragedy" Sunday Telegraph "One Good Turn is the most fun I've had with a novel this year" -- IAN RANKIN Guardian "Thrillingly addictive...In One Good Turn Atkinson proves quite unique in her ability to fuse emotional drama and thriller...Imagine a Richard Curtis film scripted by Raymond Chandler, both a little enlivened by the collaboration...The mix is embodied by Brodie. Like all good detectives, he is a hero for men and women alike" The Times

Editorial 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 neat resolutions, 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. (Kirkus Reviews)