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One Good Turn (2006)

by Kate Atkinson

Series: Jackson Brodie (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,2302042,511 (3.76)466
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.
  1. 90
    Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (teelgee)
  2. 80
    When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson (2810michael)
  3. 32
    The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith (2810michael)
  4. 00
    Mainlander by Will Smith (charl08)
    charl08: Both novels have a strong sense of place as they describe crimes that are not straightforward, and involve complex characters, challenging 'crime' genre.

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English (195)  Dutch (5)  German (2)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (206)
Showing 1-5 of 195 (next | show all)
Kate Atkinson is just not for me. I keep wanting to say to her, "Ok now we've had a few pages of imagining / backstory so can't we just get on with it?" ( )
  MerrylT | May 18, 2023 |
(53) Even though Atkinson's 'Life after Life' is one of my favorite novels of all time, I read 'Case Histories,' the first in the Jackson Brodie mystery series many years ago and was unimpressed. But decided to give the series another try as a library loan. And you know what - it was pretty entertaining. Witnesses to a road rage incident are inextricably linked, including Jackson Brodie who is in Edinburg visiting with his girlfriend. He is no longer working as a cop having inherited a bunch of money (?maybe in the first novel; I forget) but the cop is working in him. In this novel, almost everyone knows more than the reader and the story is told in fits and starts with more being revealed with every new perplexing event. It mostly seems a parody of the crime novel and it is indeed kind of funny.

The characters are mostly caricatures but the detail and dramatic tension are well-done and kept me reading and guessing. Everything was neatly wrapped up with one little surprise tucked in right at the end - brilliant. So the writing is really quite clever. Why not a higher rating? I don't know - I think somehow the tongue-in-cheek nature of the novel detracts in some way I can't quite put my finger on. I like my mysteries gritty and a bit horrifying, not funny. Entertaining, but somehow it engenders a bit of cognitive dissonance in me that prevents me from taking the whole endeavor 'seriously.'

That being said - I am pretty sure I am going to keep reading the series now. ( )
  jhowell | Oct 10, 2021 |
Kate Atkinson, when she moonlights as a crime novelist, takes with her a Dickensian delight in scrambling her characters in the kind of intricate, coincidence-laden plot that marks her “literary” fiction. Going Dickens one better, she limits her cast of characters to a few, for the most part previously unknown to each other.
In the novel that introduced her detective Jackson Brodie, Case Histories, three discrete stories are intertwined. In this second Brodie adventure, there is only one case, but it involves several side-plots and is narrated from the perspective of at least six characters. One is adopted only once, and a second appears twice, bookending the plot. But the remaining four interweave from chapter to chapter throughout the book. No two successive chapters continue the same narrative perspective. This sometimes requires a bit of narrative back-and-fill, especially as the book races to its conclusion.
The shifting narrative perspective allows Atkinson to make her characters “rounder” than in conventional genre fiction. One means she uses is interior monologue, in which one thought leads tangentially to another in the manner of stream-of-consciousness. These monologues often involve the memories of her characters, but they also go off on tangents about their likes and (more often) pet peeves. These may or may not reflect the views of the author, but I get the feeling that they were fun to write, and the best of them reveal insights into each character.
One image recurs in the book: matryoshka dolls. Toward the end of the book, Atkinson has her protagonist, Jackson, ruminate on them: “Boxes within boxes, dolls within dolls, worlds within worlds, everything was connected. Everything in the whole world.” Apparently, these dolls are meant as a metaphor for the book’s construction, but that feels overdone.
One way in which I think the image does apply is in the gender-bending the author engages in. Atkinson has created a male alter ego, whereas one of the characters in this book, the hapless, hopelessly non-literary (yet wildly successful) Martin, lives by his series of books about a female detective, Nina Riley. Boxes within boxes indeed.
Jackson’s meditation on the interconnectivity of the plot also leads him to wonder if he’s in a fiction. A nice pomo touch.
A good detective story needs a surprise in the end; when you reach the final pages, you have to rethink everything that came before. This one has a couple. The lesser of the two is very-well done. I didn’t see it coming, but when it did, I savored how well-prepared it had been. As for the major twist, even after going through the entire plot in my mind, it still feels arbitrary to me.
This didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book, however. Kate Atkinson is a wonderful writer, and I’ll continue on to the rest of her books. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
I know every time I read a Kate Atkinson book that there are going to be interweaving stories and characters. She does it about as well as anybody and ONE GOOD TURN is no exception. She manages to move around 4-5 different story lines along with them constantly bumping into each other and interacting so that eventually they all come together. It is quite a feat and makes for always interesting reading. Unlike her "literary fiction' this story is linear in time but it still requires skill and deft touch to make it work. It is all crazy but you find that the sentence "It wasn’t every day that a strange Russian dominatrix appeared out of nowhere and prowled around your house" makes perfect sense. I find her protagonist Jackson Brodie to be quite interesting with all his flaws. He manages to project a real humanity that is much more interesting that reading about the non-existent "perfect person." As always her language and sentences are exquisite. She is also prescient, a line like "Sometimes when Jackson turned on the television, he got the feeling that he was living in a terrible version of the future, one he didn’t remember signing up for" totally reads like 2020. The plot is quite complicated and strange and there is no need to even try to summarize it. But this might be close, "What were the true crimes? Capitalism, religion, sex? Murder—usually, but not necessarily. Theft—ditto. But cruelty and indifference were also crimes. As were bad manners and callousness. Worst of all was indifference." Indifference is truly cruel. ( )
  MarkMad | Jul 14, 2021 |
A bit slow for a murder mystery. Liked the setting in Edinborough ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 195 (next | show all)
Provocative, entertaining and beautifully written. It’s not quite the tour de force that her Case Histories (2004) was, but this latest affords the happy sight of seeing Atkinson stretch out into speculative territory again.
added by davidcla | editKirkus Reviews (Apr 2, 2013)
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Male parta, male dilabuntun
(Wat oneervol is verkregen, wordt oneervol verkwist.)
Cicero, Philippicae, 11, 27
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Voor Debbie, Glynis, Judith, Lynn, Penny, Sheila en Tessa.
Voor hoe we waren en voor hoe we zijn
First words
He was lost. He wasn't used to being lost.
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.
They always had a chocolate log on Christmas Day. Gloria made a roulade mix, no flour, only eggs and sugar but heavy with expensive chocolate, and when it was cooked she rolled it up with whipped cream and chestnut puree and decorated it with chocolate butter cream, scored and marked to look like wood, and then sprinkled it with icing-sugar snow. Finally she cut ivy from the garden, frosted it with egg white and sugar and then twined it round the log.
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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.

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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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Average: (3.76)
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Hachette Book Group

2 editions of this book were published by Hachette Book Group.

Editions: 0316012823, 1594835950


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