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One Good Turn: A Novel by Kate Atkinson
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One Good Turn: A Novel (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Kate Atkinson

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3,0541501,855 (3.76)357
Member:bfister
Title:One Good Turn: A Novel
Authors:Kate Atkinson
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2006), Hardcover, 432 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Edinburgh, crime fiction, coincidence

Work details

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson (2006)

Recently added byJude59, private library, SnootyBaronet, KSpeicher, TerriB, georgiaball, AikeP, Deelightful, ahef1963
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Showing 1-5 of 144 (next | show all)
While on holiday in Edinburgh, retired detective Jackson Brodie stumbles upon a dead body that gets whisked away to sea before anyone else sees it. Meanwhile, a number of other violent and mysterious things are going on around Scotland's capital city...

Like with its predecessor Case Histories, One Good Turn takes a while to get going, spending a lot of time introducing the various characters (including a crime writer, a police detective, a house cleaner, a teenaged boy, etc.) before really getting into the meaty parts of the mystery. Once it gets going, the story does get a little more like a thriller, with a hook at the end of most chapters. However, the slower introduction is a good idea as it gives the reader a sense of what kind of mysteries Atkinson writes - less hard-boiled noir and more literary, sprinkled throughout with allusions to classic literature and poetry as well as frequent use of the best free indirect discourse I've read besides Austen's. Atkinson's book is very character heavy, and I enjoyed that we got to see various events from several different perspectives. Having the crime writer as a major character also gave Atkinson some opportunities to give the reader a "behind-the-scenes" look as well as to poke a bit of fun at her own profession; I always love when people are able to do that cheerfully.

I'll admit I was a tad bit disappoint not to see more of the characters we came to know so well in the first book, with only Jackson and one other character re-appearing in this novel. There are some references here and there to events and characters that were introduced in the first novel, but this book mostly stands on its own. Thankfully, with other varied and interesting characters populating the pages of this book, I didn't feel too many sharp pangs about missing out on the characters from the previous book.

The first book, Case Histories had a slightly better set up in that Brodie was an active PI and working three separate cold cases that were not connected to one another; in this book, everything takes place in a matter of days and is inevitably connected (and the reader is in the position of seeing many of these connections before the various characters do). This sometimes leads to an almost Dickensian melodramatic series of coincidences, including one scene that's only saving grace is that the characters note to themselves how ridiculous it is that everything/everybody is coming together.

Like with Case Histories, this title pulls together the various threads at the end but doesn't quite tie them up in a pretty bow for the reader. There are still some ambiguities at the end that give readers a bit of a pause after they've closed the book. Personally, I enjoy books that make you think like this, but this book may not be for you if you prefer things a little more open-and-shut.

This particular title did seem to have an underlying theme of xenophobia, and it was sometimes difficult to parse out how much of that was Atkinson pointing out this problem versus perhaps her own unawareness that she was being so critical of immigrants, particularly those from Eastern Europe.

Still, all together this book works well enough to make a compelling read. Personally, I also enjoyed all the Edinburgh/Fringe references, as it reminded me of the time I was visiting a few years back for a few days during the Festival. And since I've already picked up the next book in the series, it's safe to say I'm hooked! ( )
  sweetiegherkin | May 30, 2015 |
I love Kate Atkinson’s writing in One Good Turn, each chapter turned out like a new short story, polished to perfection, filled with character and plot, and smoothly carrying the story on to the next. Protagonist Jackson Brodie seems slightly darker than in the first novel, Case Histories, as if the rewards of luxury might be too much time to think dark thoughts. But he’s back on British shores, following Julia’s acting career on the road to the Edinburgh Fringe. There he meets a dead body, a female detective, temptation and mystery. But One Good Turn isn’t simply a Jackson Brodie story. It’s the story of each of its characters; of a mother, struggling with her teenage son; of a shy man thrust into the spotlight; of guilts long-hidden and festering; and of guilts too easily forgotten. One Good Turn is the tale of a woman scorned, a woman scorning, and a woman caught in between; or of a boy, a man, and a man still struggling to grow up. Perhaps it’s just a window into the unexpected lives of unlikely heroes and heroines, but if so the glass is astoundingly clear, and the view is enthralling.

Unexpected road rage, unintentional death, unwanted heroism, unwilling assistance and unwelcome distractions all feed into this novel as each good turn leads to further demands, and each promise leads to betrayal. Each chapter is tightly woven, offering the perfect chance for distraction at its end, and the perfect promise of satisfaction to undistracted readers. I loved this book.

Disclosure: I think it was a Christmas gift from a friend. ( )
  SheilaDeeth | May 15, 2015 |
I enjoyed this one very much, although maybe not quite as much as Case Histories. The story was a bit more "enclosed" than the first in the series: it took place in a shorter time period and the events happened in closer proximity. I did find this volume to be more predictable than the other one (there was more of an obvious connection among most of the characters). But, as with Case Histories, Atkinson's skill at character development shines.

It's a well-plotted and thoughtful story with enough humor and danger to keep us interested. I already have When Will There Be Good News (the next in the series) and I look forward to reading it. ( )
1 vote glade1 | Mar 30, 2015 |
Fringe fest shows, Russian maids, an unpublished manuscript, and a shady real estate deal, the Jackson Brodie series is never short on interesting twists. Set during the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, Brodie is traveling with his girlfriend Julia and taking a break from his work. Unfortunately, trouble seems to find him no matter where he goes.

We meet a slew of characters: Paul Bradley a mysterious man who gets rear-ended, meek Martin, an author with little to no personal life and an in ability to say no, a cop named Louise and her son Archie who is hanging out with the wrong crowd. Then there's Gloria, a 59-year-old woman, trapped in a loveless marriage with a cruel man. Each person adds a new layer to the mystery.

BOTTOM LINE: It was good, but I didn't love it as much as Case Histories. Jackson Brodie is a fantastic character, and Atkinson is a master of drawing completely different plot lines together in a believable way by the end of the novel. This plot felt a bit too forced, but I’m looking forward to trying the next one in the series.

“A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen.” ( )
1 vote bookworm12 | Feb 2, 2015 |
An enigmatic Jackson Brodi mystery. The story is much like the matryoshka dolls which metaphorically appear in the story. Loved the Edinburgh setting. ( )
  tangledthread | Dec 16, 2014 |
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Male parta, male dilabuntun
(Wat oneervol is verkregen, wordt oneervol verkwist.)
Cicero, Philippicae, 11, 27
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Voor Debbie, Glynis, Judith, Lynn, Penny, Sheila en Tessa.
Voor hoe we waren en voor hoe we zijn
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He was lost. He wasn't used to being lost.
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Every day was a gift, she told herself, that was why it was called the present.
He knew he would have to do something proactive, he was not a person to whom things simply happened. His life had been lived in some kind of neutral gear, he had never broken a limb, never been stung by a bee, never been close to love or death. He had never strived for greatness, and his reward had been a small life.
The matronly cashmere seemed to confirm something that Gloria had suspected for some time, that she had gone straight from youth to old age and had somehow managed to omit the good bit in between.
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Book description
It is the Edinburgh Festival. People queuing for a lunchtime show witness a road-rage incident - an incident which changes the lives of everyone involved. Jackson Brodie, ex-army, ex-police, ex-private detective, is also an innocent bystander - until he becomes a suspect.

With Case Histories, Kate Atkinson showed how brilliantly she could explore the crime genre and make it her own. In One Good Turn she takes her masterful plotting one step further. Like a set of Russian dolls each thread of the narrative reveals itself to be related to the last. Her Dickensian cast of characters are all looking for love or money and find it in surprising places. As ever with Atkinson what each one actually discovers is their true self.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316012823, Paperback)

Kate Atkinson began her career with a winner: Behind the Scenes at the Museum, which captured the Whitbread First Novel Award. She followed that success with four other books, the last of which was Case Histories, her first foray into the mystery-suspense-detective genre. In that book she introduced detective Jackson Brodie, who reopened three cold cases and ended up a millionaire. A great deal happened in-between.

In One Good Turn Jackson returns, following his girlfriend, Julia the actress, to the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh. He manages to fall into all kinds of trouble, starting with witnessing a brutal attack by "Honda Man" on another man stuck in a traffic jam. Is this road rage or something truly sinister? Another witness is Martin Canning, better known as Alex Blake, the writer. Martin is a shy, withdrawn, timid sort who, in a moment of unlikely action, flings a satchel at the attacker and spins him around, away from his victim. Gloria Hatter, wife of Graham, a millionaire property developer who is about to have all his secrets uncovered, is standing in a nearby queue with a friend when the attack takes place. There is nastiness afoot, and everyone is involved. Nothing is coincidental.

Through a labyrinthine plot which is hard to follow because the points of view are constantly changing, the real story is played out, complete with Russians, false and mistaken identities, dead bodies, betrayals, and all manner of violent encounters. Jackson gets pulled in to the investigation by Louise Monroe, a police detective and mother of an errant 14-year-old. There might be yet another novel to follow which will take up the connection those two forge in this book. Or, Jackson might just go back to France and feed apples to the local livestock.

Atkinson has written an enjoyable and lively story of no degrees of separation among the most unlikely cast of characters. Some plot lines have been left to drift, but it does hang together in a satisfying fashion. --Valerie Ryan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:29 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Millionaire ex-detective Jackson Brodie follows his girlfriend to Edinburgh for the famous arts festival, but when he witnesses a brutal attack on a man, he becomes caught up in a string of events that draw him into a deadly conspiracy.

(summary from another edition)

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