Tuesday, May 14, 2024

One Good Turn and When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

One Good Turn (Jackson Brodie Series #2) 
by Kate Atkinson
Narrated by Steven Crossley
14 hours, 8 minutes
Published October 2006 by Little, Brown and Company

Publisher's Summary: On a beautiful summer day, crowds lined up outside a theater witness a sudden act of extreme road rage: a tap on a fender triggers a nearly homicidal attack. Jackson Brodie, ex-cop, ex-private detective, new millionaire, is among the bystanders.

The event thrusts Jackson into the orbit of the wife of an unscrupulous real estate tycoon, a washed-up comedian, a successful crime novelist, a mysterious Russian woman, and a female police detective. Each of them hiding a secret, each looking for love or money or redemption or escape, they all play a role in driving Jackson out of retirement and into the middle of several mysteries that intersect in one sinister scheme.

When Will There Be Good News? (Jackson Brodie Series #3)
by Kate Atkinson
Narrated by Steven Crossley
12 hours
Published January 2008 by Doubleday Books

Publisher's Summary: On a hot summer day, Joanna Mason's family slowly wanders home along a country lane. A moment later, Joanna's life is changed forever...

On a dark night thirty years later, ex-detective Jackson Brodie finds himself on a train that is both crowded and late. Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly hears a shocking sound...

At the end of a long day, 16-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little TV. Then a terrifying noise shatters her peaceful evening. Luckily, Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for an emergency...

My Thoughts: 
One Good Turn is loaded with intricately explored characters, not a single one of whom has much in the way of redeeming characteristics, not even our "hero," Jackson Brodie. It's been a several years since I read the first book in the series (Case Histories) but it was the intricacy of that novel that convinced me to read on in the series. 

That intricacy continues in this books with a seemingly random group of people, connected by one incident, who each have their own stories to tell. A set of Russian dolls, matryoshka dolls, is repeatedly referenced in the book, not so subtly hinting at readers that there are mysteries within mysteries in this novel. They don't, in the end, stack up quite so neatly but there are some deaths I cheered (he deserved it!), some guys that got away, and Jackson manages to survive another situation he didn't so much solve as go along on the ride for. 

I didn't like this one as much, without a single character to truly care about and without enjoying the ending as much. Nevertheless, I immediately launched into the next book in the series. 

When Will There Be Good News? repeats the formula (although I hesitate to use that word as there is nothing really formulaic about the books in the series) of having a large cast and a number of different stories going on at the same time. All of this while we watch Jackson struggle to survive his own life. 

Since the last book, Jackson has rashly married a woman he only knew for a couple of months after finding out that the detective, Louise, he met in the last novel and befriended was getting married. The two of them  both know they would have preferred being with each other and that their marriages were a bad idea and we watch both of the marriages fail. Which doesn't mean that they'll end up together because, really, they shouldn't. 

What worked better for me in this one were characters to care about. Reggie's a girl who has been done hard by life but managing to find a path in life on her own, thanks, in part, to Joanna Hunter who hires her as a nanny. When the train Jackson is riding on crashes just behind the house Reggie is staying at, Reggie saves Jackson's life and the two of them become entwined in trying to help both Reggie and to solve the disappearance of Joanna. Louise also becomes involved in this case, even as she worries about the survivors of a mass killing she worked on some years ago. 

A much more, for me, satisfying endings, even though Jackson had more than one rude awakening to deal with at the end of the book. 

I very much enjoyed Steven Crossley's reading of these books and was looking forward to picking up the fourth book in the series while I wait for one of the books on my wait list to become available. Unfortunately, my library doesn't carry the fourth book in audio. Is it in print on my bookshelves? Maybe. I'll have to go look. 

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