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One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

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One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

I resisted reading One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson for months and months – knowing I would enjoy it but also knowing that I would then have to wait for her to publish another book before I would have the pleasure of reading her work again.

But on a gloomy winter day I needed something to read that would provide the suspense, humour and delight, that I expected from this novel, and Kate Atkinson did not let me down.

One Good Turn is the second of three novels by Kate Atkinson to feature Jackson Brodie. We met him in Case Histories and saw him last in When Will There Be Good News – this is the in-between novel. This time we meet Jackson, after he has inherited a great deal of money and moved to France where he has been living with the lovely Julia. Julia is performing in a play at the Edinburgh Festival and Jackson has come with her, to this cold and dreary, dark northern city. Jackson is trying to decide if he’d like to marry Julia – her resistance makes the idea more desirable than it might be otherwise. Julia is more focused on her acting career than she is on Jackson, leaving him at loose ends.

A chance accident changes everything. In the inner city traffic one car bumps into another – the driver of one attacks the other – Martin, a bystander re-acts without thinking and breaks up the fight. It is completely out of character for Martin to do such a thing. Martin is a writer, a mystery writer, his heroine a plucky sort of British Nancy Drew, his novels set around the time of the Second World War. Martin is quietly successful, living alone and generally minding his own business. He is now drawn into a situation he will always regret.

We also get to know Gloria and Graham Hatter – they married after meeting in a bar many years ago – Gloria often re-visits that night and wonders what her life would have been like if she had not met Graham. One minute she was a girl on a bar stool and the next she is the old wife with nothing to show for all those years. Graham is a successful builder of Hatter Homes – sub-divisions – until now also successfully evading taxes and building sub-standard homes, but things are not going so well – there will be trouble for Graham. And don’t be fooled by Gloria – she is one smart cookie.

This, and more, all happens on Tuesday and by the end of that day we find Jackson involved in this mess. He meets Louise Monroe, a police inspector, for the first time when he defends himself on the street, and again when the wrong man is killed in another incident. Jackson, an ex-policeman, finds himself a suspect. Reporting a body that then goes missing doesn’t help his situation.

There is much confusion about who is who and what is going on – there are mistaken identities of murder victims – but it all seems entirely possible. By Friday –and the end of the book – it all does come together satisfactorily and the reader has had a very enjoyable time with Jackson Brodie as both try to figure it all out.

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