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One Good Turn: A Novel by Kate Atkinson

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

by Kate Atkinson

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Title:One Good Turn: A Novel
Authors:Kate Atkinson
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2006), Hardcover, 432 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Edinburgh, crime fiction, coincidence

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One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson (2006)


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Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
Kate Atkinson seems to go from strength to strength, as does her regular protagonist, Jackson Brodie. There is no point burying the lead - I loved this book the first time I read it, and enjoyed it even more re-reading it now. In some ways it was like shooting fish in a barrel for me, featuring a host of aspects that might have been designed specifically to appeal to me: Edinburgh, the festival, a complex but very plausible plot, along with a very humorous parody of crime fiction itself.

The story opens with a vicous episode of road rage on the streets of Edinburgh which ends with one driver being beaten senseless by the man whose car had shunted into him. The crowds queuing to enter one of the venues for a show on the Fringe look on aghast, but all are frozen into inactivity and are incapable of intervening ... with one exception. Martin Canning is an unassuming and physically unimpressive man, but as he watches, horrified, while the beating continues, something in his mind snaps and he hurls his rucksack at the attacker. This breaks his flow and the interruption causes the attacker to withdraw. Martin Canning then accompanies the victim to hospital and stays with him for the rest of the day.

We gradually learn more about Martin Canning who, as Alex Blake, has been a very successful writer of crime novels in the 'cosy' mode. Little does he realise that he is about to be sucked into a plot that dwarfs the ones from his novels in its complexity and capacity to terrify.

Meanwhile Jackson Brodie, who also witnessed the attack, is in Edinburgh with his partner Julia Land, an aspiring (though not particularly talented) actress who has landed a part in a play being staged at one of the Fringe venues. Brodie has an interesting past - former soldier, former police inspector, and former private detective, he is now more or les retired after having inherited a huge fortune from one of his clients. He is, however, restless and struggles with his luxurious life.

While preparations for her play take up all of Julia's time he takes to exploring Edinburgh and, after some aimless wandering, ends up at Cramond, one of Edinburgh's affluent commuter overspill towns. He wanders across a causeway to an island in the Forth where he discovers the corpse of a beautiful woman. However, before he can summon help, or even secure the body, the turning tide sweeps in and pulls the corpse away, almost drowning Brodie into the bargain.

These are just two of the more prominent plot-lines, though there are several more, all of which are deftly handled, and resolved with a masterful denouement. Brodie is a brilliantly drawn character - far from flawless but overwhelmingly sympathetic. In fact, all of the characters are equally credible and engaging.

AND, there's even a cat! ( )
2 vote Eyejaybee | Jun 17, 2014 |
This woman could get to be an addiction with me. I love the way she manages multiple story lines without unnecessary confusion--you know it's all going to come together eventually and watching it happen is so much fun. In this one our man Jackson Brodie spends most of his time on the wrong side of things---the law, his girlfriend, his own psyche. He starts by finding, then losing, a dead body. Nobody believes any of it. And it doesn't get better for a long time. Then he meets Detective Inspector Louise Monroe, who can't figure him out but can't quite bring herself to handcuff him and throw him in the slammer, which she suspects is what she ought to do if she wants to save her career. There are raunchy teenage boys, ("essence of testosterone and feet"); Crazy Russian Girls who are terrific house cleaners but probably also prostitutes (Or assassins?); a man with baseball bat; a missing corporate slimeball; a black garbage bag full of money; many humorous touches....and a nifty surprise at the end. Oh, and Edinburgh--let's not forget how much of a character the city is in this novel. A romp, that's what I'd call One Good Turn. Pure escapist pleasure. ( )
3 vote laytonwoman3rd | May 14, 2014 |
A worthy follow-up to Case Histories...again the focus is not really on the mystery plot but on the web of relationships between characters. Atkinson has an amazing knack for capturing how people are through stream-of-consciousness passages that perfectly portray the mixture of the mundane and the poetic that make up the individual. ( )
  mrlzbth | Feb 6, 2014 |
“Boxes within boxes, dolls within dolls, worlds within worlds. Everything was connected.”

These words taken from it's pages perfectly describe the entwining feeling one gets when reading One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson. A series of coincidences and chance encounters make for one very riveting read. This is the second Jackson Brodie book and I found it to be surprising, multi-layered and quite an addictive read.

Jackson has come to Edinburgh at the time of the Festival to be with his actress girlfriend, Julia whose time is totally engaged in rehearsing for a play that is about to open. With so much free time on his hands, he spends his time wandering the streets of Edinburgh. He soon witnesses a road-rage incident and then a murderous attack that eventually leads to more mayhem and murder. As the body count rises, Jackson soon finds himself more than an innocent bystander.

Expertly written with razor sharp insight, humor and emotion, Kate Atkinson has delivered another great crime story where the pages seem to turn by themselves. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jan 7, 2014 |
A wonderful book. So wonderful that I have two copies, on of which has been selected in the Oz VBB, and is on its way to WA.
  livrecache | Nov 12, 2013 |
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:37 -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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