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4 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

This title in other editions

One Good Turn: A Novel


One Good Turn: A Novel Cover




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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Sheila Deeth, May 15, 2015 (view all comments by Sheila Deeth)
I love Kate Atkinson’s writing in One Good Turn, each chapter turned out like a new short story, polished to perfection, filled with character and plot, and smoothly carrying the story on to the next. Protagonist Jackson Brodie seems slightly darker than in the first novel, Case Histories, as if the rewards of luxury might be too much time to think dark thoughts. But he’s back on British shores, following Julia’s acting career on the road to the Edinburgh Fringe. There he meets a dead body, a female detective, temptation and mystery. But One Good Turn isn’t simply a Jackson Brodie story. It’s the story of each of its characters; of a mother, struggling with her teenage son; of a shy man thrust into the spotlight; of guilts long-hidden and festering; and of guilts too easily forgotten. One Good Turn is the tale of a woman scorned, a woman scorning, and a woman caught in between; or of a boy, a man, and a man still struggling to grow up. Perhaps it’s just a window into the unexpected lives of unlikely heroes and heroines, but if so the glass is astoundingly clear, and the view is enthralling.

Unexpected road rage, unintentional death, unwanted heroism, unwilling assistance and unwelcome distractions all feed into this novel as each good turn leads to further demands, and each promise leads to betrayal. Each chapter is tightly woven, offering the perfect chance for distraction at its end, and the perfect promise of satisfaction to undistracted readers. I loved this book.

Disclosure: I think it was a Christmas gift from a friend.
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dhouston, December 2, 2014 (view all comments by dhouston)
great book
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Chinamom, November 14, 2014 (view all comments by Chinamom)
Another fun read with the wonderful Jackson Brodie, Atkinson's intrepid, "retired" investigator. Jackson is so likable; he's not slick, just a regular guy who's unlucky in love but keeps trying to make sense of life. The situations he's put into are funny, yet poignant. He's introduced in Case Histories, then appears in Started Early, Took My Dog. Atkinson's scenes can be gory but also hilarious. Her books take place in the United Kingdom so you learn many new expressions and words from this Scottish lassie.
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Product Details

Atkinson, Kate
Back Bay Books
Mystery & Detective - General
Edinburgh (scotland)
Mystery-A to Z
General Fiction
Edition Description:
Reprint ed.
Publication Date:
September 2007
8.24x5.60x1.21 in. .91 lbs.

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One Good Turn: A Novel Used Trade Paper
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Product details 448 pages Back Bay Books - English 9780316012829 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 , "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."
"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 , "One Good Turn crackles with energy and imagination."
"Review" by , "Entertaining both as a murder mystery and as a sprawling multi-character study in the best post-Nashville tradition."
"Synopsis" by , Following her mystery debut Case Histories with this percipient, funny, and totally satisfying read, Atkinson once again features ex-cop turned private investigator Jackson Brodie — except this time he is the prime suspect in a deadly crime.
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