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When Will There Be Good News?by Kate Atkinson
Synopses & Reviews
On a hot summer day, Joanna Mason's family slowly wanders home along a country lane. A moment later, Joanna's life is changed forever...
On a dark night thirty years later, ex-detective Jackson Brodie finds himself on a train that is both crowded and late. Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly hears a shocking sound...
At the end of a long day, 16-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little TV. Then a terrifying noise shatters her peaceful evening. Luckily, Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for an emergency...
These three lives come together in unexpected and deeply thrilling ways in the latest novel from Kate Atkinson, the critically acclaimed author who Harlan Coben calls "an absolute must-read."
"In Atkinson's stellar third novel to feature ex-cop turned PI Jackson Brodie (after One Good Turn), unrelated characters and plot lines collide with momentous results. On a country road, six-year-old Joanna Mason is the only survivor of a knife attack that leaves her mother and two siblings dead. Thirty years later, after boarding the wrong train in Yorkshire, Brodie is almost killed when the train crashes. He's saved by 16-year-old Regina 'Reggie' Chase, the nanny of Dr. Joanna Hunter, ne Mason. In the chaos following the crash, Brodie ends up with the wallet of Andrew Decker, the recently released man convicted of murdering the Mason family. Enter DCI Louise Monroe, Brodie's former love interest, who's tracking Decker because of a recent case involving a similar family and crime. When Dr. Hunter disappears, Reggie is convinced she's been kidnapped and enlists the reluctant Brodie to track her down. A lesser author would buckle under so many story lines, but Atkinson juggles them brilliantly, simultaneously tying up loose ends from Turn and opening new doors for further Brodie misadventures. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Thank God, in these hard times, for a cheerful, ghoulish, gory book like this. Isn't the main point of popular fiction to assure us that no matter how god-awful things appear to be, no matter how many ravening wolves rake their claws across our flimsy front doors, everything is going to turn out OK? That's why they call it fiction, because you can trust — usually — that the author, after putting... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) the reader through hell of one kind or another, will deliver up the consolation of a happy ending. Kate Atkinson gives us three main characters here, each having gone through — or enduring right now — a particularly ghastly version of living hell. The first, Joanna Hunter, nee Mason, was just a little girl 30 years ago, slogging along a country lane in Devon, England, with her mother, older sister and baby brother, burdened with groceries. Her father already had left the family and taken the car with him; he was an unsuccessful novelist who claimed that his wife and children were interfering with his creative process. You'd think that would be bad enough, but then a stranger appeared from nowhere and sliced the whole lot of them into human strip steak, except for Joanna, who ran for her life and miraculously escaped. She has grown up to be a doctor with a beautiful house, a fairly iffy husband and a baby she loves beyond words, but her world is a house of cards, and she knows it. Naturally, prison authorities are releasing the coldblooded killer for good behavior. The second main character, Reggie, has had an even unhappier life. At the age of 16, she lives alone in a wretched tenement, subsisting on chocolate bars and potato chips. Her mother, who loved her, drowned while on vacation with a dreadful boyfriend. Her brother is a dope-dealing sociopath who rarely comes around. She's a brilliant student who's had to quit school but is being tutored by an eccentric ex-professor with a brain tumor. Reggie's so alone! But luckily she's gotten a part-time job as mother's helper for Dr. Joanna Hunter, and she loves that little baby almost as much as its mother does. She doesn't tell her employer that her mother is dead. She intuits that the doctor's lovely house and orderly life hide something squalid, but she's too busy withholding the details of her own existence to figure out what's going on. Once in a while, from the well-lit kitchen where she spends much of her time, Reggie will catch a shadowy glimpse of something ominous skittering across the dark meadow out back. The third character here is one Atkinson readers will be familiar with: ex-police detective Jackson Brodie, who when we first see him is taking a train in the wrong direction. Brodie is so desperate for a family that he's been on a futile, quixotic outing to snatch a strand of his ex-girlfriend's son's hair, hoping to prove (by DNA test) that the kid is his own. (That's when he gets mixed up and takes the wrong train, which turns out to be an almost fatal move, because the eccentric ex-professor with the brain tumor has managed to park her car on those very tracks.) At the time of the crash, Reggie, only a few blocks away, rushes to the scene and rescues Brodie, who by this time, however, is unknowingly carrying the identification cards of the nefarious killer of Dr. Hunter's family in his pocket. This means the killer is at large, posing as Brodie. Meanwhile, Reggie's pathetic apartment is pillaged and her life threatened by a person or persons who can't spell. And suddenly Dr. Hunter's iffy husband begins to look a good deal iffier. Enter Detective Police Inspector Louise Monroe, who leaves the reader to ponder how she ever attained her high bureaucratic position, because besides being crabby, resentful and generally ill-tempered, she wouldn't know a corpse if it rose up and punched her in the face. It is the novel's chief conceit that Reggie discovers and recognizes most of the evidence here, waves it in front of Louise Monroe, who adamantly denies there's anything bad happening (although I do think a missing baby's blankie, spotted with blood, might provide at least a hint). But there's no point in underestimating the stupidity of the police in stories like these, so why grumble? This is a grand mystery, with plenty of misdeeds and overwrought coincidences, as well as quotes from Scots ballads, old nursery rhymes and the classics, so you can feel edified while being creeped out — as you wait for that happy ending we all long for, and think we deserve. Reviewed by Carolyn See, who can may be reached at www.carolynsee.com, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"Thank God, in these hard times, for a cheerful, ghoulish, gory book like this....[A] grand mystery, with plenty of misdeeds and overwrought coincidences, as well as quotes from Scots ballads, old nursery rhymes and the classics, so you can feel edified while being creeped out..." Carolyn See, The Washington Post Book World
"[M]ay be the best entry yet....In Atkinson's world, the most vulnerable are easy prey...but the mayhem is offset by the expansiveness of her singular narrative voice....It is that tonal range that gives this novel its incredible richness." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Evocative, smart, literary, and funny...both complicated and a page-turner....A book that will easily stand up to more than one reading; highly recommended." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Although When Will There Be Good News? has been expertly rendered by Ms. Atkinson, it is a reminder that she is too versatile a writer to stick with any one incarnation.....It shows off an imagination so active that When Will There Be Good News? can barely contain it." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"[P]sychologically astute....Like the most riveting BBC mystery, in which understated, deadpan intelligence illuminates characters' inner lives within a convoluted plot." Kirkus Reviews
"A step up in plot mechanics from her last book, One Good Turn, this Atkinson novel reaches a satisfying conclusion that suggests good news is indeed on its way." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"[T]he most satisfying novel of Atkinson's trilogy....
Three lives come together in unexpected and deeply thrilling ways in the latest novel featuring ex-detective Jackson Brodie, the hero of the national bestsellers Case Histories and One Good Turn.
Atkinson's Jackson Brodie, hero of the national bestsellers Case Histories and One Good Turn, returns in an intense new literary thriller where three lives come together in unexpected and deeply thrilling ways.
About the Author
Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread Book of the Year for her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and has been an internationally bestselling author ever since. Her most recent novels, Case Histories and One Good Turn, both also featured the former private detective Jackson Brodie.
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