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When Will There Be Good News?: A Novel Hardcover – September 24, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 336 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Jackson Brodie Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In the third novel in her Jackson Brodie series and what may be the best entry yet, Atkinson offers another fascinating glimpse into her dark worldview. The novel opens with a horrific scene as six-year-old Joanna Mason watches a maniac slice up her mother, sister, and baby brother. Thirty years later, the killer is released on parole, and Joanna, now an Edinburgh GP with a baby of her own, has gone missing, but only Joanna’s nanny, Reggie Chase, an old soul despite her young years, is convinced that Joanna is in danger. Then Jackson Brodie, reluctant PI and protector of women, crashes the scene, literally, when the train he is riding derails. Reggie saves his life and then asks Jackson to save Joanna and her baby. In Atkinson’s world, the most vulnerable are easy prey (“In some Utopian nowhere, women walked without fear”), but the mayhem is offset by the expansiveness of her singular narrative voice. Hard-charging detective Louise Monroe (returning from One Good Turn, 2006), one of four revolving narrators, moves from bitingly funny rants on the burdens of domesticity to teasing sexual banter to a grim tip of the hat to the many women murdered while trying to protect their children (“Give medals to all the women”). It is that tonal range that gives this novel its incredible richness. --Joanne Wilkinson


"The novel satisfies the question in its own title. The answer is: Right here and right now."―Laura Miller, Salon

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (September 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316154857
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316154857
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (336 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #769,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Kate Atkinson's most recent novels have seemed, on the surface of things, like a radical departure for a Whitbread Award-winning novelist whose previous works were noted for their use of magical realism and their unusual family dynamics. With CASE HISTORIES, however, the first book featuring detective Jackson Brodie, Atkinson took her well-established skill at exploring characters and relationships, and applied it to an entirely new genre --- the mystery. Since then, with ONE GOOD TURN and now with WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS?, Atkinson continues to push the boundaries of the mystery genre, writing intricate, suspenseful character studies that are bound to appeal even to literary purists who would swear they had never read a mystery novel in their lives.

These three books are loosely interconnected, focusing at least in part on Brodie and Edinburgh police inspector Louise Monroe. In ONE GOOD TURN, the sexual tension that defined Jackson and Louise's interactions never came to fruition; in WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS?, readers will be intrigued to discover that both main characters, in the intervening months, have made very similar choices in their personal lives, choices that will continue to complicate their personal and professional relationships.

But, as with the previous titles in this series, the private detective and the police inspector are, unusually, hardly the most important characters in the novel. Instead, Atkinson introduces a good dozen characters, each of whom carries his or her own tale of love, loss and betrayal, and whose stories come together in remarkable and, at times, surprising ways.

Central to the story is Joanna Hunter, now a successful physician and new mother living in Edinburgh.
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Format: Hardcover
A woman and three children are living in the country; a husband is off writing his novels and having affairs - in the city - and against this backdrop, the unexpected happens. On an otherwise blissful day, an intruder stalks into all of their lives, murdering the woman and two of her children, while another child cowers in the field nearby, unharmed.

Except, of course, for that nasty post-traumatic stress disorder that clings to her - forever.

This is the past, to which the reader is introduced in When Will There Be Good News?: A Novel, followed by an influx of seemingly unrelated characters - Reggie, who is Dr. Hunter's nanny; Louise, an unhappily-married police officer, fondly recalling a love she almost had, a long time ago; Jackson, married twice and cuckolded by a lover, whose infant child may inadvertently belong to him; and Ms. MacDonald, a former teacher, now retired. Somehow, all of these disparate individuals are connected by at least one common thread.

A train wreck...Indeed, as one character hurtles along on a train headed toward London, or so Jackson believes, it is actually headed toward Edinburgh. When it lurches and turns on its side, its passengers tossed about, everything becomes tangled - literally. When Jackson ends up in hospital, miraculously kept alive by CPR administered by one Reggie Chase, he has the wrong ID on him. This fact sets the tale in a completely different direction.

Unbeknownst to these two characters - Reggie, the nanny, and Jackson, a former police detective - Dr. Hunter and her baby have gone missing. Ah, yes - Dr.
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Format: Hardcover
This is no cute little detective story where we kind of know what's going to happen in advance. This is a gritty, tough, realistic, sometimes funny and very touching story that spans thirty years. Here are some of my observations and reasons I think this is one of the best books of the year:

1. There are really four main characters, Jackson, our old friend from her past books, a 16 year old orphan and amazingly resourceful girl, a loving and devoted female MD who has gone through hell and survived and a somewhat crusty and yet excellent female detective who is trying hard to have a normal and proper life, yet can't quite get there. All of these characters have had difficult lives and backgrounds, death and suffering behind them, and yet each gets out there every day to do good things. We love each of them even though they are flawed, lie, hide things, have made bad marriage decisions, etc. At the same time, we have no idea if any of them will survive and make it whole through this grim set of circumstances.

2. We view the world and what's happening through the eyes of each of these characters from chapter to chapter. Along the way, we pick up information from each that starts to answer questions about the others and what may really be going on in the world. There is no speed reading here. There are little clues and hilarious and sometimes scary comments in the minds of each of the characters that will play out in the future. Along the way, there are many little old nursery rhymes and sometimes quotes from the bible or from other writers that play in each of their minds in a very clever way. Sometimes these little quotes foretell the future or put us into a gloomy mood that death has happened or is just around the corner.

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