76. WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS?, BY KATE ATKINSON (Book 3 of Jackson Brodie)
The third one on the Jackson Brodie series, and the last one I’ll be reading this year, to my great unhappiness. I didn’t expect to like this book so much; I liked the first two on this series, but not passionately. This one was a big leap up from them.
Synopsis: Joanna, a survivor from an attack that killed both her siblings and her mother is now married with her own child, and employs Reggie as her “mother’s help”. The man who attacked her family in the past is set to be released, which brings her in contact with Louise Monroe, previously met in One Good Turn. Her disappearance leads Reggie to Brodie, who has recently being involved in a train crash and is suffering from amnesia.
Overall enjoyment: I loved it. The prose is fantastic. It’s definitely not a classic crime novel, though. That might have been why I liked it so much more than the previous books: when I read them, I was expecting something different; when I read this one, I already knew what was coming and could fully appreciate it.
Plot: There are many smaller plots that combine to form a bigger picture. This joining is quite impressively done, she doesn’t leave any loose threads. There are many surprises, and the suspense is very well constructed. Once again, though, this isn’t a classic crime novel; there isn’t much investigating or mystery. It is much more about the characters and their relationships. Someone who is expecting a mystery would probably be disappointed.
Characters: I love how quirky and well developed they are. All of them feel real, with flaws and virtues. It was particularly interesting reading the interview with Kate at the end of the book, where she says she is always afraid that she doesn’t know how to write male characters; Brodie is such a masterfully created male character I would never have imagined it.
World/setting: Edinburgh, mostly. It permeates the story with an overarching bleakness, in the weather, in people’s personalities, in the buildings.
Writing style: She has an amazing turn of phrase, it’s delicious to read. She fluidly includes what the characters are thinking on the narration, and I love this style of writing.
Representation: Not very good for most minorities, but there are very few characters in total, so that might be overlooked. Most of her characters are female.
Political correctness: Something that I’m getting to see the more I read: if you take the time to make well-built, multidimensional characters, it’s very hard for you to make great blunders in political correctness. It could have been better if her characters were more diverse, though.
Up next: Ariel, by Sylvia Plath