Saturday, October 25, 2008

When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

In When Will There Be Good News, Dr. Joanna Hunter, who witnessed her family's brutal murder thirty years ago, is now missing along with her child. Her family's killer, Andrew Decker, has just been released after serving his time and the police expect him to hunt her down to "finish the job". Is he the reason she's missing? Her baby's nanny, Reggie, Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe and ultimately a former private detective, Jackson Brodie are all on the case, but mostly working independently, to find her and her missing child.

Atkinson presents a beautifully written, fantastic mystery with plenty of twists and memorable characters. I really enjoyed it. It was substantial, suspenseful, compelling and exciting. I found it really hard to put down once I started reading it. I particularly liked her writing style with the little asides (adages, lines from nursery rhymes etc.) inserted into the story. A few times I had to stop and figure out where I'd heard that line before. I also found her non-linear storyline to be a fresh and unique approach to laying out the story for the reader. It definitely added to the suspense in this mystery.

Atkinson's characters were believable and appealing. There wasn't one that I didn't like. Her characters had overlapping connections to each other and intriguing backgrounds to support the story.
I was particularly drawn towards Reggie, the tenacious teenage nanny of Dr. Hunter. She refused to give up on Dr. Hunter and did her best to find her and convince others that they should be looking, too. I also enjoyed reading about Jackson Brodie, the former private investigator. Anything I say about him at this point, will likely give the story away. So I'll just say that I'd love to read more about him.

The near misses and intersecting lives left me wondering how it was going to all come together. I won't give the ending away, but the author does a great up in tidying up the loose ends and gives the reader a hugely satisfying conclusion.

This is the first book I read by Atkinson, but it won't be my last. I have more of her books on my bookshelf that I haven't gotten around to reading yet. Now, I'm anxious to jump right in. I'm definitely looking forward to reading Case Histories and One Good Turn both of which feature Jackson Brodie.

Highly recommended.

This book review is also available on Edwards Magazine.

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