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One Good Turn: A Novel Hardcover – October 11, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 418 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (October 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316154849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316154840
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #652,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Kate Atkinson began her career with a winner: Behind the Scenes at the Museum, which captured the Whitbread First Novel Award. She followed that success with four other books, the last of which was Case Histories, her first foray into the mystery-suspense-detective genre. In that book she introduced detective Jackson Brodie, who reopened three cold cases and ended up a millionaire. A great deal happened in-between.

In One Good Turn Jackson returns, following his girlfriend, Julia the actress, to the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh. He manages to fall into all kinds of trouble, starting with witnessing a brutal attack by "Honda Man" on another man stuck in a traffic jam. Is this road rage or something truly sinister? Another witness is Martin Canning, better known as Alex Blake, the writer. Martin is a shy, withdrawn, timid sort who, in a moment of unlikely action, flings a satchel at the attacker and spins him around, away from his victim. Gloria Hatter, wife of Graham, a millionaire property developer who is about to have all his secrets uncovered, is standing in a nearby queue with a friend when the attack takes place. There is nastiness afoot, and everyone is involved. Nothing is coincidental.

Through a labyrinthine plot which is hard to follow because the points of view are constantly changing, the real story is played out, complete with Russians, false and mistaken identities, dead bodies, betrayals, and all manner of violent encounters. Jackson gets pulled in to the investigation by Louise Monroe, a police detective and mother of an errant 14-year-old. There might be yet another novel to follow which will take up the connection those two forge in this book. Or, Jackson might just go back to France and feed apples to the local livestock.

Atkinson has written an enjoyable and lively story of no degrees of separation among the most unlikely cast of characters. Some plot lines have been left to drift, but it does hang together in a satisfying fashion. --Valerie Ryan

From Publishers Weekly

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. (Oct. 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Kate Atkinson's first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year Award. She has been a critically acclaimed, bestselling author ever since, with over one million copies of her books in print in the United States.

She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News?, and Started Early, Took My Dog. Case Histories, which introduced her readers to Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, was made into a television series starring Jason Isaacs.

Kate Atkinson lives in Edinburgh.

Customer Reviews

She writes complex stories with great characters and fun plot twists.
M. Johnson
I read the first Jackson Brodie novel (Case Histories) for a book club and enjoyed it so much I read the rest of the series and look forward to the next book.
Tex Ann
This is not a very enjoyable read -- a bit all over the place and a bit too disjointed in terms of character development.
J. Smallridge

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As the old saying goes 'One Good Turn Deserves Another' and in this case someone observes an attack, saves the life of the attackee and trouble comes in spades. Kate Atkinson re-introduces us to Jackson Brodie, whom we first met in 'Case Histories'. He has inherited 2 million pounds, has quit his job, but it seems his job has not quit him. Along with him comes Julia, whom we also met in 'Case Histories'. Both have a murdered sibling in common, and they have become lovers. Julia divulges very little- she is a clam- while we come to know Jackson a bit better.

Into this mix comes varied and sundry characters- all well described and more than interesting, and all well vested in this story. All of these people are hiding something, all looking for something, and all are integral to the whole. All are inter-connected as the story develops, and we are left to ponder their interests.

Paul Bradley- the victim who was attacked

Martin, a mystery writer who is thrust into a series of real-life crimes.

Jackson, whom we have met before; a former police officer who finds and loses the body of a young girl, then stumbles into several other violent events.

Louise, a senior police officer, who doesn't believe all of Jackson's explanation, but finds him very interesting.

Gloria, the wife of a home builder, who "often felt that her life was a series of rooms that she walked in to when everyone else had just left."

Honda Man- the attacker- not of one but many of these characters

JoJo- the Russian who seems to materialize suddenly

When 'Paul Bradley' is rear-ended by a Honda driver who gets out and bashes Bradley unconscious with a baseball bat, Jackson is a reluctant witness.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Ed Mann on May 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I spent too much time reading this book, getting to two pages one day, ten on the next, putting it away for a week. This was a mistake. One Good Turn takes one twist of fate from five or six points of view and pulls together a story drafted with a deft command of the Queen's tongue (I do mean ENGLISH) and lovely divergent backstories and character development pieces. It's a mystery wrapped in a Jane Austin novel strung together with pearls.

One auto accident brings several main characters together on journeys that lead the reader into the mystery of the Honda Man, a road raging thug who clubs another driver in clear view of several witnesses. Ms. Atkinson stammers the time frame to allow the participating characters to ramp up to the accident, and my stop-start reading of this book made the story difficult to follow. I heartily recommend no more than a few sittings of extended reading to fully absorb the action. This is no standard issue action novel, so it's a bit of genre bender where the adventure is sluced with plenty of prose. Enjoy.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A. A. Tranmer on April 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This novel has an interesting and intricate plot peopled with interesting and varied characters. Even with its complexities this book is exceptionally readable and fails to confuse or confound. It's written in the revolving-door style of storytelling that is becoming popular in modern movie making. A number of characters from different backgrounds--whose lives are inexplicably intertwined through destiny to the end of some greater good or evil--learn, experience, and grow through their fated interactions (think "Crash" and "Babel").

I enjoyed the read. My one criticism was that I found the ending wanting. It seemed as though perhaps the book had gotten too long, and with a looming deadline, the author did the best she could to wrap it up. I'm not sure how I would have changed it, just that I feel there had to be a more gripping resolution. The twist never came for me.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Tony Mastrogiorgio on October 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Case Histories, Atkinson's previous novel, began with three separate stories of death and disappearance. In the world of mystery novels, those stories are supposed to wind up connected. While the lives of the survivors do become intertwined, the 'solutions' of the mysteries remain separate and random. There is no grand denouncement. The end of Case Histories is much like life itself: you can accept it has meaning, reject everything as random, curse the universe or move on.

One Good Turn does something else--you might even say it deliberately does the opposite. Without giving anything away, all the strands come together into a single picture. But Atkinson has not abandoned the literary novel for mystery conventions, There is an element of farce at work here - people coming and going, incredible coincidences, concealed intentions. (The `stage' is Edinburgh during the annual theater festival, which should be taken as a hint of Atkinson's intentions.)

The farcical elements are lightly handled, but they are the key to accepting the coincidences that drive the story. Also, Atkinson's characters never behave as if they are in on the joke. The danger and disappointments are real to them.

All in all, One Good Turn is an interesting, extremely well written balancing act. It is a mystery, a literary novel and an experiment. I think the element of farce should have been a little more pronounced, but at the very least it is always highly entertaining. Even if it may not quite achieve what it set out to do, One Good Turn will probably be one of the best novels you'll read this year.
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