Two years after the events of Case Histories left him a retired millionaire, Jackson Brodie has followed Julia, his occasional girlfriend and former client, to Edinburgh for its famous summer arts festival. But when he witnesses a man being brutally attacked in a traffic jam – the apparent victim of an extreme case of road rage – a chain of events is set in motion that will pull the wife of an unscrupulous real estate tycoon, a timid but successful crime novelist, and a hardheaded female police detective into Jackson’s orbit. Suddenly out of retirement, Jackson is once again in the midst of several mysteries that intersect in one giant and sinister scheme.
You may have noticed, but I’m on something of a crime/mystery reading roll at the moment. I was fairly captivated by the first book in this series, and happily picked up the sequel when I was browsing in a second-hand book store.
It wasn’t every day that a strange Russian dominatrix appeared out of nowhere and prowled around your house.
I was eager to dive head-first into the mystery, which starts out with a fairly innocuous incident of road-rage. Atkinson’s books are generally filled with chapters and events that make no sense initially, but slowly the threads are pulled together as lives and characters collide. Unfortunately, this time it happened a little too slowly for my liking. I can usually trust the author to get me to where I’m supposed to me, but in One Good Turn things really felt like they were dragging on, which somewhat dulled the edge.
He thought, I’ll just do this for a bit, and then perhaps go travelling or take another qualification or get a more interesting job and a new life will start, but instead the old life had carried on and he had felt it spinning out into nothing, the threads wearing thin.
Most frustratingly of all, there was a character whose purpose I couldn’t quite fathom (and whom I have to be discreet about, for fear of spoiling the book for others). But he appeared, and there was never any explanation for his presence there, or how he related to the others, and it left me grumpy, this business of not-knowing.
Nowadays you could shop for charity on the internet as easily as trawling the cyber shelves of Tesco.com, adding goats and chickens to your ‘shopping basket’ as if they were bags of sugar, tins of beans.
But as always, the author viciously skewers the middle class problems of the middle class, and it is a delight to behold. It was also great getting a glance at some of the characters from the previous novel, and seeing how they’ve developed since.
All in all, this one was a bit of a let-down, but if the reviews are anything to go by, the third book in this series picks up, so I’ll be checking out that one sometime soon.