07 May 2011

One Good Turn


First line: He was lost.

Publisher's Synopsis:   Two years after the events of CASE HISTORIES left him a retired millionaire, Jackson Brodie has followed Julia, his occasional girlfriend and former client, to Edinburgh for its famous summer arts festival. But when he witnesses a man being brutally attacked in a traffic jam – the apparent victim of an extreme case of road rage – a chain of events is set in motion that will pull the wife of an unscrupulous real estate tycoon, a timid but successful crime novelist, and a hardheaded female police detective into Jackson's orbit. Suddenly out of retirement, Jackson is once again in the midst of several mysteries that intersect in one giant and sinister scheme.

I read Case Histories in May of 2008, and bought this a few months later, but have just now gotten around to finally reading it. But it was worth the wait.

I don't remember much about Case Histories, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of this book. I'll admit at first I had a little trouble keeping up as various characters were introduced. It's a Jackson Brodie book, but he is often out of the lime light while another character is featured.

Atkinson's writing is crisp and smooth and flowing. She starts with multiple stories and disparate characters, but then their paths cross and criss-cross and suddenly two characters' lives will intersect.

If Brodie is the main character, then I believe Louise would be the second main character. Or maybe Martin Canning, the crime novelist. After the events of Case Histories, and after a client left Brodie a lot of money, he retired, and when this book opens he has traveled with girlfriend Julia (a client from the previous book) to Edinburgh, where Julia is appearing in a play. He first becomes an inadvertent witness to a brutal beating, then stumbles across a dead body, which he promptly loses before local police can arrive on the scene. That's when he meets Louise, who heads up the investigation.

I didn't care for Julia, finding her to be a little selfish and flighty. Fortunately, she was usually off doing her acting thing, leaving Brodie to unravel the labyrinthine mystery, at times alone, at times with Louise, and at times with Martin, who was also a witness to the beating. None of the characters are what they seem to be in the beginning, and everyone has secrets, that may or may not have to do with...anything.

The story takes place over a four day period, but each time I turned the page and saw the new heading with the day of the week, I was surprised that such a short amount of time had passed. And just when you're following along with a character and you think you've figured something out, another character takes the page, the point of view changes, and you're left bewildered. A wonderful book, with a (somewhat) satisfying ending.

(I purchased this book new in December 2008.)

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