On a beautiful summer day crowds lined up outside a theatre witness a sudden attack of extreme road rage: a tap on a fender triggers a nearly homicidal attack.
Jackson Brodie, ex-cop, ex-private detective, new millionaire, is among the bystanders. The event thrusts Jackson into the orbit of the wife of an unscrupulous real estate tycoon, a washed up comedian, a successful crime novelist, a mysterious Russian woman, and a female police detective. Each of them hiding a secret, each looking for love or money or redemption or escape, they all play a role in driving Jackson out of retirement and into the middle of several mysteries that intersects in one sinister scheme.
flap copy for ONE GOOD TURN by Kate Atkinson (LittleBrown 2006)
It is summer, 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. Unputdownable and triumphant, "One Good Turn" is a sharply intelligent read that is also percipient, funny, and totally satisfying.
source: Fantastic Fiction website
All but one of the principal characters in Kate Atkinson's new novel, "One Good Turn," witness the same disturbing incident. After a fender bender on an Edinburgh, Scotland, street, a driver gets out of his car and savagely attacks another man with a baseball bat. The assailant is about to finish the victim off with a blow to the head when someone in the crowd of bystanders flings a laptop case at him, clipping his shoulder and thereby chasing him off. The laptop-case flinger is Martin Canning, a meek crime novelist who's produced a successful series of nostalgic mysteries under a pseudonym. Tossing that case is the bravest thing he's ever done.
Martin's intervention is the "good turn" of the book's title, but does it lead, as the proverb would have it, to another? Not exactly. In Atkinson's universe, a good turn is more likely to set off a chain of unpredictable events, whose connections will only become apparent when the dust clears at the very end.