Monday, April 09, 2007

One Good Story

Kate Atkinson has done it again. One Good Turn is one good detective story. Jackson Brodie, of Case Histories fame, is visiting Edinburgh with his "girlfriend" Julia. He is left to his own devices for most days, since Julia is preparing for and performing in a theater production for the Edinburgh Film Festival. Although Jackson is now retired from the police force, he just can't help himself. He still keeps finding crimes. Atkinson writes the book from several points of view--we hear from Martin Canning, a dull man whose writes Nancy Drew-like detective stories, Gloria Hatter, whose husband is a powerful and nasty real estate developer, and Louise Monroe, a police inspector with a tart tongue and a sassy attitude. Each character harbors a secret, and each is connected in some fashion to a road-rage incident on the streets of Edinburgh. Most is not what it seems at first, and stories and characters are nestled within the stories of others, just like the matryoshka (nested Russian dolls) that show up here and there in the story. Although death and violence are critical parts of the story, they don't overwhelm, and when all is said and done, the bad guys satisfactorily get their due.

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