ONE GOOD TURN by Kate Atkinson

one good turnThis is the second in the Jackson Brodie, P.I. series.  As you may recall from the first book, Case Histories,  Jackson used to be a military guy, then a cop, then a P.I., then got jaded, burned out, whatever, was left a bunch of money by an elderly woman he befriended, bought a house in France, where, two years later, he finds himself bored bored B.O.R.E.D.   He has taken up with one of the characters from the previous book, who is a rather eccentric actress of sorts, and they are in Edinburgh for a week because she is in a play there for the yearly cultural fair.

We can safely retitle this book Weird Week in Edinburgh, and you will be pleased to know that this book is just as mosaic-like and quirky as the first.   It is about:

Male parta, male dilabuntur.  (What is dishonorably got is dishonorably squandered.)  – Cicero

That was the quote at the beginning of the book.  Is there a term for a quote at the beginning of a book?  EPIGRAPH!   Yeah, I knew there was a term for that.

Our collection of diverse characters includes a mild mannered author who writes cozy mysteries, which is surprisingly successful, a hit man, some Russian gals in a very shady cleaning company, a sixty-something woman married to a very successful and wealthy schlub,  which said schlub has a massive heart attack while doing the bumpty-bump with a paid bumpty-bumper.  We have a nice single lady cop with a pain-in-the-patooty 14 year old son, and let’s see, who else?  Who else?  Oh, yeah, a has-been comic who is not very funny and who has been houseguesting (read mooching off) Martin, and who in  one of those tragic mistaken identity issues, is murdered in the house of Martin, the murderer apparently thinking he was Martin.  We are pretty sure it was not committed by a disgruntled audience member.

The connecting thread for all of this is an accident which occurs when a car, driven by the hit man, is rear ended by a car driven by a thug on the payroll of the wealthy schlub, who gets out of his car with a baseball bat  and hits the hit man, but is deterred from beating him to death by Martin, the by-standing writer, who throws his laptop at the baseball wielding thug.  This is witnessed by a number of the assorted members of our ensemble, and thereby hangs a tale.  I know.  Trite phrase, but I couldn’t resist.

Yes, we have a couple of other dead bodies, other than the mercifully dead comedian, and we have our boy Brodie doing his best not to be a cop/P.I. again, but you know he is going to get mixed up in it all.

My only nit that I shall pick is that the story hinges in large part on an awful lot of those pratfall kinds of misunderstandings and odd coincidences that unfunny sitcoms are made of.  One, two, ok, I can deal.  But a whole series of them?   Ehhhh, not so much.   But I still loved the book, because I like the way a whole lot of disparate characters are brought together to create the nexus of the plot.

Ill gotten gains, and looking out for Number One.  Yeah.  I think that pretty much summarizes the story arc.



One comment on “ONE GOOD TURN by Kate Atkinson

  1. Mary Smith says:

    Oh, I’ll have to go and re-read them all!


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