24 May 2012

Reading Kate Atkinson at the lake

When last at the library, I picked up the "Jackson Brodie" mystery that I hadn't read yet. It was One Good Turn. It was actually the second of four books by Kate Atkinson, but I read them out of order. That's okay, they stand alone pretty well.

I had really liked the other three: Case Histories, When Will There Be Good News, and Started Early, Took My Dog. In addition, the BBC made a great mini-series of several stories from the books.

 Most of the stories in One Good Turn were not in the television series. That made reading it even more fun. If my memory is working, this book was as good as the first one and better than the last. There is also more humor, and some of the one-liners are very good.

I'd read about 50 pages when I remembered that Atkinson begins her books with lots of little episodes (not quite short stories) about lots of characters. The fact that I got that far into the book before getting confused about who was who means that I was paying better attention or Atkinson did a better job of distinguishing characters and events.

I read most of this while at the little cabin called Sidetrack on a tiny lake in northern Wisconsin. Between gardening, watching the eagles, feeding the hummingbirds, watching it rain a lot, and worrying about the severe thunderstorm warnings, I had time for reading (and napping). I even stayed up until midnight as I was trying to finish it. It also helped that the weather made TV reception ugly.

Jackson Brodie is still an interesting character. Atkinson still delves into her characters and does a great job of telling me what they're feeling and doing. And she still weaves a bunch of disparate events and people in a unified story by the end of the book.

The stories in this book take place in Edinburgh during its Fringe Festival. Jackson keeps running afowl of the local police and crime scenes. Oh, and he's being chased by a hit man working for a local Tom Petters-like crook. (Details about Tom Petters are available at Wikipedia for non-Minnesotans.) As a matter of fact it's that enforcer who is one of the things that links the novel's characters together.

 I didn't finish the book until I returned home, but I really liked reading it.

Have you read One Good Turn or other books by Atkinson? Write and tell this little bit of the world what you thought about it (them).

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