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One Good Turn: A Novel


One Good Turn: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780316154840
ISBN10: 0316154849
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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He was trying to drive and at the same time decipher his A-Z of Edinburgh to work out how to escape this hellish street, when someone stepped in front of the car. It was a type he loathed-a young, dark-haired guy with thick, black-framed spectacles, two days of stubble, and a fag hanging out of his mouth, there were hundreds of them in London, all trying to look like French existentialists from the sixties. He'd bet that not one of them had ever opened a book on philosophy. He'd read the lot-Plato, Kant, Hegel-even thought about getting a degree someday.

He braked hard and didn't hit the spectacles guy, just made him give a little jump, like a bullfighter avoiding the bull. The guy was furious, waving his fag around, shouting, raising a finger to him. Charmless, devoid of manners-were his parents proud of the job they'd done? He hated smoking, it was a disgusting habit, hated guys who gave you the finger and screamed, "Spin on it," saliva flying out of their filthy, nicotine-stained mouths.

He felt the bump, about the same force as hitting a badger or a fox on a dark night, except it came from behind, pushing him forward. It was just as well the spectacles guy had performed his little paso doble and gotten out of the way or he would have been pancaked. He looked in the rearview mirror. A blue Honda Civic, the driver climbing out-a big guy with slabs of weight-lifter muscle, gym-fit rather than survival-fit, he wouldn't have been able to last three months in the jungle or the desert the way that Ray could have. He wouldn't have lasted a day. He was wearing driving gloves, ugly black leather ones with knuckle holes. He had a dog in the back of the car, a beefy rottweiler, exactly the dog you would have guessed a guy like that would have. The man was a walking clich?. The dog was having a seizure in the back, spraying saliva all over the window, its claws scrabbling on the glass. The dog didn't worry him too much. He knew how to kill dogs.

Ray got out of the car and walked round to the back bumper to inspect the damage. The Honda driver started yelling at him, "You stupid fucking twat, what did you think you were doing?" English. Ray tried to think of something to say that would be nonconfrontational, that would calm the guy down-you could see he was a pressure cooker waiting to blow, wanting to blow, bouncing on his feet like an out-of-condition heavyweight. Ray adopted a neutral stance, a neutral expression, but then he heard the crowd give a little collective "Aah" of horror and he registered the baseball bat that had suddenly appeared in the guy's hand out of nowhere and thought, Shit.

That was the last thought he had for several seconds. When he was able to think again he was sprawled on the street, holding the side of his head where the guy had cracked him. He heard the sound of broken glass, the bastard was putting in every window in his car now. He tried, unsuccessfully, to struggle to his feet but only managed to get to a kneeling position as if he were at prayer, and now the guy was advancing with the bat lifted, feeling the heft of it in his hand, ready to swing for a home run on his skull. Ray put an arm up to defend himself, made himself even more dizzy by doing that, and, sinking back onto the cobbles, thought, Jesus, is this it? He'd given up, he'd actually given up-something he'd never done before-when someone stepped out of the crowd, wielding something square and black that he threw at the Honda guy, clipping him on the shoulder and sending him reeling.

He blacked out again for a few seconds, and when he came to there were a couple of policewomen hunkered down beside him, one of them saying, "Just take it easy, sir," the other one on her radio calling for an ambulance. It was the first time in his life that he'd been glad to see the police.

Copyright © 2006 by Kate Atkinson

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Carol Jo, September 24, 2007 (view all comments by Carol Jo)
I love a mystery as much as the next person but I certainly got more than I bargained for with "One Good Turn." This was my first time reading Kate Atkinson so was not aware of what added talents she brings to the table. Not only was I steadily turning pages discovering who, what and why, but also I found my travel lust being tended with her description of Edinburgh during the Arts Festival. My appreciation of words was delighted by Ms Atkinson's extraordinary facility with an extensive vocabulary. She even coaxed an outloud laugh from me with her last page. Now THAT's entertainment!
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Samsara, July 15, 2007 (view all comments by Samsara)
Over the course of four days, the lives of a handful of strangers intersect as they become unwitting participants in a string of murders. But like its predecessor, Case Histories, the mystery is secondary to the beautiful and painful moments of everyday life that Atkinson captures. I couldn't put this book down, not because I was in suspense and needed to know "whodunit," but because I didn't want to leave these characters' lives.
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Madam Pince, January 16, 2007 (view all comments by Madam Pince)
This is, hands-down, the best book I read in 2006, and probably one of my best reads of the decade. It's even better than Case Histories, and I didn't think Ms. Atkinson could top that. I'm in awe of her ability to build an incredibly complex and detailed story -- and make it look so easy.
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Product Details

A Novel
Atkinson, Kate
Back Bay Books
Mystery & Detective - General
General Fiction
Publication Date:
September 2006
9.50x6.40x1.34 in. 1.46 lbs.

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One Good Turn: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 448 pages Little Brown and Company - English 9780316154840 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

It's hard to believe Kate Atkinson could follow up Case Histories with such a superb — may I suggest even superior? — novel: sly and witty, honest and humane, and, finally, complex and suspenseful. One could not ask for more than the whole package that is One Good Turn. It is undoubtedly my favorite novel of 2006.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Having won a wide following for her first crime novel (and fifth book), Case Histories (2004), Atkinson sends Det. Jackson Brodie to Edinburgh while girlfriend Julia performs in a Fringe Festival play. When incognito thug 'Paul Bradley' is rear-ended by a Honda driver who gets out and bashes Bradley unconscious with a baseball bat, the now-retired Jackson is a reluctant witness. Other bystanders include crime novelist Martin Canning, a valiant milquetoast who saves Bradley's life, and tart-tongued Gloria Hatter, who's plotting to end her 39-year marriage to a shady real estate developer. Jackson walks away from the incident, but keeps running into trouble, including a corpse, the Honda man and sexy, tight-lipped inspector Louise Monroe. Everyone's burdened by a secret — infidelity, unprofessional behavior, murder — adding depth and many diversions. After Martin misses a visit from the Honda man (Martin's wonderfully annoying houseguest isn't so lucky), he enlists Jackson as a bodyguard, pulling the characters into closer orbit before they collide on Gloria Hatter's lawn. Along the way, pieces of plot fall through the cracks between repeatedly shifting points of view, and the final cataclysm feels forced. But crackling one-liners, spot-on set pieces and full-blooded cameos help make this another absorbing character study from the versatile, effervescent Atkinson." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[A]n intricately plotted and quite amusing sequel....Although it's not as wonderful as its predecessor, this still makes for delightfully witty reading."
"Review" by , "[A] soft-hearted thriller, short on menace but long on empathy and introspection....A technically adept and pleasurable tale, but Atkinson isn't stretching herself."
"Review" by , "Atkinson skillfully links the characters to one another, revealing twists from their various points of view, and in Brodie creates a likable star....Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "The pleasure here lies in watching the intricate branches of Atkinson's plot unfurl, and in savoring the tart, quirky character portraits that hang from them."
"Review" by , "One Good Turn does some dawdling. Too much perhaps. Case Histories was a tighter book....This time Ms. Atkinson incorporates a good deal of the family histories of the characters, and some have similar backgrounds."
"Review" by , "Atkinson's tart prose still sparkles, but while all the plot pieces connect, they never quite click. (Grade: B)"
"Review" by , "One Good Turn and Case Histories lack a certain sense of ambition, of risk-taking, and use contemporary life without engaging it....Atkinson retains her always alluring style, but her vision has shrunk rather than expanded."
"Review" by , "Despite the abundance of characters and actions — some mysterious Russians and a disappearing corpse — One Good Turn fails to capture the reader's attention or affection."
"Synopsis" by , From the author of 2005's breakout favorite Case Histories comes a brilliant new thriller featuring the irresistibly reluctant detective Jackson Brodie. A triumphant novel filled with wit and surprise, One Good Turn will delight the many fans who cheered Kate Atkinson's foray into thrillers.
"Synopsis" by , "Atkinson's bright voice rings on every page, and her sly and wry observations move the plot as swiftly as suspense turns the pages of a thriller."-San Francisco Chronicle

Two years after the events of Case Histories left him a retired millionaire, Jackson Brodie has followed Julia, his occasional girlfriend and former client, to Edinburgh for its famous summer arts festival. But when he witnesses a man being brutally attacked in a traffic jam - the apparent victim of an extreme case of road rage - a chain of events is set in motion that will pull the wife of an unscrupulous real estate tycoon, a timid but successful crime novelist, and a hardheaded female police detective into Jackson's orbit. Suddenly out of retirement, Jackson is once again in the midst of several mysteries that intersect in one giant and sinister scheme.

"Compelling and always entertaining." -USA Today

"One Good Turn crackles with energy and imagination." -Chicago Tribune

"Atkinson's tart prose sparkles." -Entertainment Weekly

"Entertaining both as a murder mystery and as a sprawling multi-character study in the best post-Nashville tradition." -The Onion

"A remarkable feat of storytelling bravado." -Washington Post

"Synopsis" by , On a beautiful summer day, crowds lined up outside a theater witness a sudden act 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 intersect in one sinister scheme.Kate Atkinson writes such fluid, sparkling prose that an ingenious plot almost seems too much to ask, but we get it anyway, writes Laura Miller for Salon. With a keen eye for the excesses of modern life, a warm understanding of the frailties of the human heart, and a genius for plots that turn and twist, Atkinson has written a novel that delights and surprises from the first page to the last.
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