Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: When Will there be Good News by Kate Atkinson

Author: Kate Atkinson
Publisher/Format: Little Brown and Company, 1st edition E book, 314 pages
BBC America, Audiobook, 10 discs, 11 hours, 51 min
Narrator: Steven Crossley
Year of publication: 2008
Subject: kidnapping, deceipt, cold case
Setting: Scotland
Series: Jackson Brodie mysteries 
Genre: private detective mystery
Source: Public library downloads, Barnes & Noble Nook

Jackson Brodie is a detective I really root for.  He seems to run into more bad luck than any other of his ilk, and seems to have terrible luck with women, even when his heart is in the right place.  Kate Atkinson somehow manages to make us fall in love with him, even as she skips blithely back and forth, hither and yon among three or four stories.   This technique can be very disconcerting to first time readers of the series, but this is #3, and I'm finally getting used to the style.  I'm sure the story would not be nearly as exciting or attention holding were she to tell each thread more linearly, but it takes some getting used to.

This style is not particularly well suited to audio, unless you have the time to sit down with pencil and notepad to take a lot of notes so you can keep up with everyone.  I read this one both in print and audio.  I've learned by now to get into all the threads (about the first 30-40% of the book) and THEN I can pick it up in audio while I'm working out.  If I don't get a good grip on who is who (often requiring some flipping back and forth) I'm not able to enjoy Steven Crossley's wonderful narration.

In this adventure, we meet some old friends - Detective Inspector Louise Monroe, Julia Land, and Jackson's ex-wife Josie, and are introduced to a 16 year old detective in training Reggie Chase.  Reggie works as a home helper (don't say "Nanny"!) for Dr. Joanna Hunter, who suddenly goes off on a mysterious trip to visit an aging auntie.   Brodie, still haunted by the deaths of his sister, brother and father, is  married now to an art curator named Tessa, who has gone off to a conference in the US for most of the book.  While she'd gone, Jackson goes on a quest to determine whether he is the parent of Julia's son.  Along the way tho, he becomes unwittingly (isn't this how he always gets involved?) embroiled in the case of the missing doctor who was herself  involved in a brutal mass slaying in her childhood, the search for a recently released felon who seems to have assumed another identity, and another series of daydreams (reciprocal at least) about a romantic relationship with Louise.  Of course, he's trying NOT to get involved in any of this because he's recuperating from a near fatal train crash while traveling back to Covent Garden.

The plot is complicated, convoluted, and at times confusing.  I've finished it, but as with previous books in the series, I'm still not sure I understand everything that happened or why.  I have the fourth one on the nightstand, but I'm going to let it sit for awhile.  I love this series, and may want to go back and re-read one or two before I tackle #4.

If you like really well-plotted, intricate mysteries, with quirky, snippy, and quintessentially British characters, and enjoy a very dry and biting sense of humor, these are for you.  They're not for light reading, but they are for those times when you want to lose yourself in a good book.  And if you like sensitive, intelligent men not afraid to bend the rules, Jackson Brodie is the hero for you.

1 comment:

  1. so I need to go back and start with the first in the series? well, if I must!
    so many little time...


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