One Good Turn

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson
One Good Turn is Whitbread prize winning author Kate Atkinson’s second venture into crime fiction.

This time thanks to his thespian girlfriend Julia’s involvement in a decidedly mediocre production, police inspector turned private detective, Jackson Brodie finds himself in Edinburgh during the Festival. There he witnesses cosy mystery writer Martin Canning (AKA Alex Blake) save a man from being clubbed to death in a road rage incident and offers the unlikely hero his support.

The reader (and Brodie) are drawn inexorably into the interconnected lives of Gloria Hatter, faithful wife of Graham a Property tycoon of questionable ethics, Russian dominatrix Tatiana and washed-up comedian Richard Moat. When Brodie spots a dead woman floating in the Forth his failed attempt to retrieve her body provokes both the suspicion and the interest of newly promoted DI Louise Monroe and then his problems really begin.

One Good Turn is cleverly structured and deftly written. Stephen King described the mysteries at the heart of Atkinson’s first Jackson Brodie novel Case Histories as, ‘nesting like Russian dolls.’ I can’t help wondering whether the appearance of the Russian Matryoshka dolls throughout One Good Turn is a whimsical reference to his comments.

The book opens with a bang (literally) but after that the pace builds gradually as we begin to make sense of the characters’ interweaving lives. Perhaps lovers of the traditional whodunit or police procedural might find One Good Turn’s structure and the depth of the characterisation a source of frustration. But for me it’s a cracking good mystery that keeps the twists and turns coming to the very last sentence. It’s subtitled, ‘A Jolly Murder Mystery’ and it manages to deliver on its promise while remaining both credible and entertaining.

If you haven’t yet discovered Jackson Brodie put Kate Atkinson on your ‘To Read List’ now. If you do I’ll rest easy in the knowledge that I’ve done my one good turn for the day.

I’m now reading ‘The Devil’s Feather’. If you haven’t read it yet or even haven’t yet discovered it’s award winning author Minette Walters check back here soon and I’ll let you know whether you should add it to your reading list.