One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson
Published in 2007 by Black Swan
My copy: No idea where this one appeared from!
It is summer, it is the Edinburgh Festival. People queuing for a lunchtime show witness a road-rage incident – a near-homicidal attack 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 murder suspect.
As the body count mounts, each member of the teeming Dickensian cast’s story contains a kernel of the next, like a set of nesting Russian dolls. They are all looking for love or money or redemption or escape: but what each actually discovers is their own true self.
I have absolutely no idea where, when or how I acquired this book, but it was on my TBR shelf so I decided to give it a go. I don’t generally read crime / detective novels, although I have read one of Atkinson’s novels in the past that features Jackson Brodie which I think I quite liked if I remembered rightly. However I had read Life After Life by Kate Atkinson last year and not enjoyed it at all, so I had no idea what I would make of this.
I found myself sucked into this story right away – simply because it is so well written, with well rounded characters. It is the Edinburgh Festival, and several bystanders are witnesses to a road rage accident. We then find out a bit more about some of these witnesses,with each of the chapters devoted to a different character.
About 100 pages into this book, I realised that very little had actually happened. We are introduced to different members of the cast and find out their connection to the main incident – but then the book drifts off on tangents so that we build a rounder picture of the character in question. Some of these stories are really funny, and almost farcical at times, and I really liked the style of writing and enjoyed reading about the various characters. I especially liked Martin, a successful but incredibly unassuming and self-deprecating novelist – and I actually felt I could read a whole book just about him!
The plot finally started to take off a bit at this stage, but oddly I found that I couldn’t really get into it. It had taken so long to get going – and by this point I actually found myself tiring of the constant tangents and asides, while the story just plodded along with seemingly random coincidences. It was strange as I started off really enjoying the book, but the further I went the less I enjoyed it. And by the end of the novel I didn’t really care what was going to happen
This is such a well written and clever book but for some reason it really didn’t work for me. The plot was too weak and great characterisation can only take you so far! I’m concluding from this that sadly Kate Atkinson really isn’t for me.