Saturday, 30 May 2009

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

The first thing I want to say is that the title of this book is very apt. Throughout this story, it seems to follow that one good turn does not deserve another. In fact, it is more likely that doing a good turn leads to consequences totally out of the realms of possibility, and not good at all! Throwing a laptop bag leads to murder, trying to rescue a dead body leads to being a murder suspect and so on.

One Good Turn is the follow up novel to Case Histories, which I read earlier this year. Still featuring ex army, ex police detective Jackson Brodie, although he is no longer a Private Detective, he just happens to be in Edinburgh when the first of a series of interconnected events occurs. He is in Edinburgh with his girlfriend, Julia, one of the Land sisters from the previous novel. She is performing in a play at the festival, and whilst Jackson is entertaining himself he witnesses a road rage attack in which a pretty despicable character is prevented from causing grievous injury by the usually meek author, Martin Canning, who throws his laptop bag at the man and knocks him out.

Jackson himself helps out Martin, but then slopes away from the scene, determined not to get involved if he can help it. this is destined not to happen though, as he gets set upon by the road rage man, finds a dead body in the water which then subsequently disappears, and becomes linked to the murder of another festival performer, Richard Moat, who is staying in Martin Canning's house, and is murdered there whilst Martin is being drugged by the man from the road rage attack, who he stays the night with to ensure he is ok.

Also running concurrent to this storyline is an investigation into Favours, a cleaning agency with added 'extras', who seem to employ mainly Russian immigrants, and the downfall of a man named Graham Hatter who has made a fortune illegally, seems to have built shoddy housing estates all over Edinburgh, but who now has the Fraud Squad on his back.

All these seemingly different story lines run throughout the story, and it is only at the end that they all come together and we see how they are all related. You really do have to read this carefully to make all the connections and follow all the threads, even when they are ties up at the end! I think this one was probably even more tightly plotted than the first novel, and I wasn't sure that was possible.

There were lots of things I liked about this book. Obviously the construction, but also the development of a huge cast of characters. They are all totally believable, and even though the ending is dramatic, that's believable too. I also liked the thread of Jackson and Julia's relationship and how that disintegrated throughout the story. I said when I finished the last book that I would read this one because I wanted to read more about Brodie, and this didn't disappoint in that respect. In fact it didn't disappoint at all. It was brilliant, and I'm glad I've got another one left to read.

No comments: