Review: One Good Turn

Kate Atkinson (2006)

Jackson Brodie is back and once again mixed up in murder, only this time the ex-cop/retired private detective is on the other side of the law. Well, sort of.

Picking up about a year after we left him in Case Histories, Brodie (now a millionaire) is visiting Edinburgh where his actress girlfriend Juliet is preparing to launch a play. Left on his own to wander the city, Brodie has a knack for being in the right place at the wrong time. To start, he witnesses a brutal instance of road rage and later discovers a body floating in the sea. Each time, he falls under the scrutiny of police, initially enjoying the experience of playing the suspect. But you can’t take the detective out of the millionaire, and Brodie’s instincts soon have him crime solving from the sidelines.

As in Case Histories, author Atkinson adeptly weaves multiple viewpoints with her antihero’s—including a washed-up comedian, the potboiler author he’s leeching off of, and the wife of a crooked developer—creating a fast-moving, crime thriller that’s heavy on character. Brodie still isn’t perfect, he makes mistakes, acts on impulse, and continues to have a messy personal life, but that’s what makes him such an interesting and genuine character. Two more books follow in the Brodie series. I’ll be reading them both.

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