Review: When Will There Be Good News? (Jackson Brodie #3) – Kate Atkinson

Well hello, yes, it’s me! I was actually back from holiday a week ago, but it turns out there’s a lot of life-admin that piles up when you’re away, and I was simply too exhausted to function, let alone read. Also, I am massively behind on my Goodreads challenge, for the first time ever – so I’m pledging one hour reading per day till the end of the year. And hopefully that closes the gap!

when will there be good newsOn a hot summer day, Joanna Mason’s family slowly wanders home along a country lane. A moment later, Joanna’s life is changed forever…

On a dark night thirty years later, ex-detective Jackson Brodie finds himself on a train that is both crowded and late. Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly hears a shocking sound…

At the end of a long day, 16-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little TV. Then a terrifying noise shatters her peaceful evening. Luckily, Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for an emergency…

These three lives come together in unexpected and deeply thrilling ways in the latest novel from Kate Atkinson, the critically acclaimed author who Harlan Coben calls “an absolute must-read.”

Rating: 3.5/5

There’s something so compelling about Atkinson’s writing that has me coming back for more – even when I don’t particularly enjoy what I’m reading; even when I’m a little bored, to be honest, during some of the more introspective parts on middle class life or human nature or broken relationships. She just reels me back in, every time.

Don’t make eye contact. Walk briskly, don’t draw attention to yourself. Somewhere, in some Utopian nowhere, women walked without fear. Louise would sure like to see that place. Give medals to all the women. 

Her characters aren’t particularly likeable at all. They really do epitomise the ideal of flawed characters. Indeed, they’re almost frustrating in their humanity – there’s nothing dramatically wrong with then, they’re just stubborn or selfish or hard to love. There isn’t always a redeeming arc for them.

When the going gets tough, the tough take drugs. 

As is the formula for this particular crime series of hers, we are introduced to a series of different character perspectives until they collide – in this instance – quite literally – on a quest for a missing woman. What is frustrating, again, about this author is that things aren’t always wrapped up nicely, and there are usually things left unanswered. True to life, maybe, but it doesn’t feel so satisfying for the reader.

And how did they choose doctors? They took middle-class kids who were good at science subjects and then spent six years teaching them more science and then they let them loose on people. People weren’t science, people were a mess.

Of course, it sounds like this review is full of complaints, but there were aspects I really did enjoy. The mystery of what had happened to Dr Hunter. The moments of humour and wry observations. The class and gender issues that are always hovering in the background. The Britishness of it all, which manages to still feel authentic without veering into cutesy or cloying.

She had always preferred North and South to Wuthering Heights. All that demented running around the moors, identifying yourself with the scenery, not a good role model for a woman. 

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