Monday, March 30, 2009
I have a crush on Kate Atkinson. Her books are so clever, so original, so unexpected. They crackle with wit and sparkle with insight. Her characters live on in your head, continuing to make their mordant observations for months after you have finished reading about them. I just can't get enough of them, and like a good relationship, the longer I have known Atkinson, the better she gets.
When Will There Be Good News? is the third book featuring Jackson Brodie, ex-soldier, ex-cop, ex-private investigator, currently wandering around Scotland in search of some errant DNA. But Jackson is only one in a cast of thousands (or so it feels), the most compelling of whom is the orphan Reggie, a 16-year-old nanny who seems to have the worst luck in the history of luck. There is also Louise, whom we met in One Good Turn, now unhappily married and still in love with Jackson; Joanna, Reggie’s employer, who serves as a mother-substitute for Reggie until she gets kidnapped; and Reggie’s horrible brother Billy, whose mates burn Reggie’s house down. Could it get any worse? Oh, yes, there is that train wreck. And the guy who murdered Joanna’s family 30 years ago, he’s getting out of jail soon. Have I forgotten anyone?
For those familiar with Atkinson’s earlier work, Reggie is cut from the same cloth as Ruby, in Behind the Scenes at the Museum (I know, I know, I go on and on about that book). Both are plucky, snarky, smart. Both suffer and rebound. Both use their wit and their ingenuity to make the best of bad situations.
I read in an interview (which I can no longer find, so I can't link to it) that Atkinson is putting Jackson Brodie on hiatus for a while, as she has “gone off him.” That’s okay, I’m sure she’ll have something equally kinetic for us soon.
(Book 12, 2009)