Jolly japes

By Festival Fringe Society (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Regular Bookhounders may remember that I thoroughly enjoyed the first of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie murder mysteries Case Histories, which I reviewed a few years ago. The same family were kind enough to give me the second mystery in the series One good turn as a Christmas gift last year, and I've finally got around to reading it.

It's very different from the first novel, which was dark, complex, and at times very poignant. One good turn's subtitle is "A jolly murder mystery", and it is an extremely jolly romp  of a murder mystery. Jackson Brodie is in Edinburgh attending the Festival with his actress girlfriend. But as the relationship cools rapidly, Brodie is drawn back into his old life as a PI when he witnesses a road rage incident. Meanwhile a crime writer of the "cosy crime" variety unexpectedly finds himself a hero when he fights off an attacker, and the wife of a property tycoon discovers an unexpected side to the Favours cleaning agency. All these plots and lives intermesh seamlessly as Kate Atkinson hits top form in this whimsical, darkly comic tale.

The plot doesn't ring as true as Case Histories, and for crime fiction fans, who enjoy realism in their fiction, this may not be the novel for them. There are coincidences aplenty and some over the top characters. It is, however, one of the very few crime novels I have read which had me laughing out loud. The humour is of the blackest dye, but it's brilliantly funny. It also has a terrific twist at the end, which you may have suspected was coming, but which is, nevertheless, delivered with great aplomb.

If you asked me which of the two Jackson Brodies was my favourite, I think I would have difficulty deciding. Case histories is the better crime novel, but One good turn held me enthralled. It's not often that a crime novel is also a great pick-me-up, but One good turn is hilarious. Dark, funny, beautifully written, what more could you want?


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