When Will There Be Good News? is a thriller from the wonderful Kate Atkinson that is full of suspense, surprises and a fair splattering of coincidence. This is the third book in the Jackson Brodie series but can be read as a standalone.
The opening scene shocked me! Kate Atkinson writes with a wonderful scope and mixes a fascinating plot with great characters and teases us with humour while masking the opportunity of dropping cruel murderous bombshells on us. The plot is a mix of multiple threads that start weaving in and out of each other and what I liked is that it happens throughout the novel rather than all coming at once. The plot is cloaked in misdirection and flawed assumptions.
Thirty years after serving a prison sentence for the murder of the Mason family, where only 6-year-old Joanne was left alive, Andrew Decker, the killer, has gone underground and Dr Joanne Hunter (nee Mason) has gone missing with her infant baby. Reggie Chase, Dr Hunter’s baby-minder and friend, finds herself in the middle of a complex web of events. Thrown into the web of murder and deceit, along with the gutsy Reggie, are Chief Inspector Louise Monroe and ex-soldier, ex-cop, current PI, Jackson Brodie. Each character is developed with great depth and capacity, but I loved the character of Reggie, she is 16 years of age, feisty, resilient and clever. A young girl that hasn’t had much luck in life, in fact, when has there ever been good news.
“Just because something bad happened to her once doesn’t mean it’s happened again,’ Louise said to Reggie. ‘No,’ Reggie said. ‘You’re wrong. Just because something bad happened to her once doesn’t mean it won’t happen again. Believe me, bad things happen to me all the time.’ ‘Me too,’ Jackson said.”
An implicit reference to the title.
The personal relationships with spouses, friends and colleagues, felt very real, with wonderful subtleties that were just masterstrokes. The love interest was engaging and tantalising – why is it that we often want what we shouldn’t have. Marriages, in particular, are put under tremendous strain throughout the book and often the thing most valued, isn’t the person sharing the home.
Kate Atkinson provides amazing detail and observations, often with a bit of humour.
“A few supermarket lorries thundered along and a speeding motorcyclist hurtled past, eager to donate an organ in time for someone’s Christmas.”
If I had one criticism it would be that sometimes the detail feels like she has veered off-track and delivered content that didn’t really mean much.
I would highly recommend this book and I’d like to thank Random House UK, Transworld Publishers and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC copy in return for an honest review.