Thursday, November 30, 2006

One Good Turn - Kate Atkinson

One Good Turn
Kate Atkinson
Little, Brown and Company


Jackson Brody (last seen in CASE HISTORIES) is hanging around outside a theater in Edinburgh, when he witnesses a traffic accident. A Honda rear-ends another car. Pretty standard, so far. Until the Honda driver emerges from the vehicle and beats the other driver with a baseball bat before leaving the scene. The victim of the beating, currently using the name Paul Bradley, is a criminal trying to stay incognito. Getting beaten in a public street in front of several witnesses is not the best way to do that. As a retired detective, Jackson has had his fill of crime. He thinks that giving his report will be the end of it. He has no way of knowing that, later that day, he’ll be the one to discover the dead body of a young Russian woman.

Another witness to the accident is writer Martin Canning. In fact, he actually saved Bradley’s life when his intervention stopped the attack. When Martin arrives home to find that Bradley has paid him a call and done him the dubious favor of snuffing out the life of a supremely irritating houseguest, Martin asks Jackson to be his bodyguard. Then there’s Gloria Hatter, also a witness, who is in the process of ending a long-term marriage to a man of questionable ethics.

If you’ve never read a book by this author, prepare yourself to be amazed, to be awed, and to be slightly and happily confused. Her writing is unique, her storytelling style original. The story is told in an almost elliptical style, with the point of view changing often. There are some clues that are left for the reader to piece together, given what has been said or done by other characters in other scenes. This makes the reader a more active participant in the story, giving the experience a real sense of immediacy. Read it as a mystery, read it as a social commentary, read it as a character study. You won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 9
October 2006
ISBN# 0-316-15484-9 (hardcover)


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