One Good Turn – Kate Atkinson

One Good Turn Book Cover

What does a writer, two teenagers, the wife of a shoddy home builder, and a retired cop turned ex-detective now millionaire have in common?  They’re all witnesses to a fender bender at the Edinburgh festival.  It’s a seemingly ordinary accident that quickly escalates into an assault before being diffused by the writer.

And this writer doesn’t use words to get the situation under control.  In fact, he’s a writer who is a little bit tired of words.  Or more accurately, the words and exploits of the main character in his series of best selling novels.  His actions have unintended consequences.

The teenagers are cutting class and looking for a thrill.  One is headed towards a life of crime – too intelligent and bored for his own good.  The other is an awkward teen who happens to be the son of a police detective, Louise Monroe.  Louise ends up investigating events that may or may not be related to the car accident.

Louise and her son, Archie, live in one of the poorly constructed homes built by Gloria’s husband.  When the home construction business was small Gloria kept the books.  Now she’s cut out of the day to day stuff but she knows the homes aren’t built well or with good materials.  Investigators are closing in on her husband’s business.

Jackson Brodie from Case Histories returns to One Good Turn as a man trying to find himself.  The curse of being a millionaire is the lack of purpose in one’s life.  He’s helped finance a play at the Edinburgh festival with his girlfriend as one of its cast members.  Uncomfortable in London or his house in Paris this is a holiday from his ordinary life. 

This novel was a delight from beginning to end.  Tense moments, such as a Jackson Brodie alley fight scene, can turn comical with just a few unexpected words.

One thing I noticed is the reader gets to hear the important characters’ thoughts.  While more than one of these characters can be in a scene together, the reader only gets to know what one character is thinking.  Any more and it would get to be a confusing jumble. 

Atkinson’s next novel, When Will There Be Good News?, has Jackson Brodie and Louise Monroe in it.  I swore I wouldn’t let myself read it until I was done with this review.  I cheated and began reading it a few days ago; that’s how badly I wanted to know what happens to them.

You can find out more about Kate Atkinson and her books on the Kate Atkinson Ning Group.

Title: One Good Turn
Author: Kate Atkinson
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source: My Personal Library


  1. While reading Case Histories, I kept thinking that I was hating the book, but after I finished it, it wouldn’t let me go. I am never ambivalent about a book, so I don’t know what to do with that. Most likely I’ll end up reading another Jackson Brodie book and postponing judgment until then!
    .-= Mindy Withrow´s last blog ..Well Said: Agility, Not Access =-.

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