Tag Archives: One Good Turn

Crime Fiction Alphabet – O is for One Good Turn

We have reached the letter O in Kerrie’s Crime Fiction Alphabet and my book this week is:

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

This is the second of her Jackson Brodie series. I read Case Histories, the first one, a few years ago and the third one, When Will There be Good News? just over 2 years ago, both of which I thought were excellent. So I had great expectations that this would be equally as good. Maybe it’s me, but I don’t think it is. It is good and I enjoyed it but I thought it was over complicated, especially at the beginning with so many different seemingly unrelated characters being introduced. It’s only near the end that you find out the connections and interactions between them all. And the ending did take me by surprise – a neat twist.

My problem with this book that I’d just get interested in one strand of the story and want to find out what happened next, when the action shifted to another set of characters. There is also too much detail, background information and flashbacks holding up the action for me to say it’s an excellent book.

But it is still a book that I had to finish; I had to find out what happened and work out the puzzle, because it is a puzzle. Like the Russian dolls within dolls (which also feature in this book), there is a thread connecting it all together. Set over four days an awful lot happens changing the characters lives for ever.

It’s summer in Edinburgh at Festival time when people queuing for a lunchtime show witness a road rage incident after Paul Bradley brakes suddenly to avoid hitting a pedestrian. The driver of the Honda behind him attacks his car with a baseball bat and then attacks Paul himself.  The one good turn comes from Martin Canning, the author of the Nina Riley mysteries, who stops the attack by throwing his laptop bag at the Honda driver hitting him on the shoulder.

One of the people in the queue is Jackson Brodie, who doesn’t want to get involved but who nevertheless gives Martin his mobile number and noted the Honda’s registration number. Amongst other witnesses are Gloria, the wife of an unscrupulous property developer, and her friend Pam. I got to like Gloria, a very sympathetically drawn character. Numerous other characters are involved – Jackson’s actress girlfriend, a failing comedian, exploited Eastern European workers for a housecleaning/escort agency called Favours, and Sergeant Louise Monroe and her teenage son, Archie, amongst others.

It’s complicated and full of coincidences, a very cleverly plotted book and as Jackson says:

A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen.

One Good Turn is also my entry in Beth’s What’s In a Name Challenge – a book with a number in the title.

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; Reprint edition (22 July 2010)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0552772445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552772440