Friday, April 5, 2013

When will there be good news? by Kate Atkinson

When will there be good news? is the third book in Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series. Fully realized characters, lovingly and explicitly narrated with a lyrical style, make this an exceptionally impressive British mystery.

Sixteen year old Reggie Chase lives alone, after losing her mother to a tragic accident and her criminally-inclined brother to the streets. Smart, funny, and as wise as she can be, she’s determined to make a good place for herself in the world. More than anything she wants a family, and when she finds a job as Dr. Joanna Hunter’s nanny, she gets one ready-made, which she’s not about to let go.

As a child, Dr. Hunter was the sole survivor of a vicious attack on her mother and siblings, a tragedy which shaped her in ways both obvious and obscure. When the killer is released after a thirty year sentence, she seems unfazed—but when he slips probation, she and her baby suddenly disappear without a word to anyone. The only person who realizes that something must be wrong is Reggie.

Reggie’s quest to find Dr. Hunter collides with Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe’s efforts to investigate Hunter’s husband for insurance fraud, and with private detective Jackson Brodie’s attempts to return home following a devastating train crash. Each character narrates alternating segments with a clear and distinctive voice, and each adds layers to the complex but well-patterned plot-line. Many tiny coincidences tie the characters together in knots whose ultimate pattern reveals underlying themes of family, loyalty, and survival.

I started with number three, because it happened to be available on Library2Go (very well narrated by Steven Crossley.)  It stands alone easily, but here is the full series thus far:

 1. Case histories
 2. One good turn
 3. When will there be good news
 4. Started early, took my dog

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