Kate Atkinson,
When Will There Be Good News?
(Back Bay Books, 2010)

Kate Atkinson contends she pays no attention to genre when writing a book, yet her Jackson Brodie series is a satisfying blend of crime and literary fiction, and this third of four books to date crackles with thrills, wit and humor.

Six-year-old Joanna Mason witnesses the horrific murder of her mother, sister and brother in the opening chapter. Thirty years later, the murderer is released from prison and Joanna, now a wife, mother, physician and friend of Reggie, her teenaged nanny, disappears from home.

Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe, busy with another missing person case, is annoyed and disbelieving at first when Reggie (who has her own bucket of troubles) brings Joanna's disappearance to her attention. It isn't long before Louise becomes curious about Joanna, whose dodgy husband claims his wife has gone to visit an ailing aunt, and the family killer is also missing.

Meanwhile, Jackson Brodie, who is in the north for reasons of his own, is homeward bound on a train he mistakenly thinks is destined for London. When the train is wrecked in a tragic accident, Brodie's life is saved by the smart and resilient Reggie, who happens to be in the neighborhood. Such coincidences are important to the complicated plot and at one point Jackson declares they are "...an explanation waiting to happen." The encounter is important to the story because Reggie talks the former policeman into helping her discover what has happened to Joanna.

The reader (and the characters) are in for a wild ride in this page-turner. I, for one, am hopeful there will be more than four novels in this stunning series.

[ visit the author's website ]

book review by
John Lindermuth

21 January 2017

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