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Sunday, September 02, 2012

When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

I am not sure how I screwed up the order but I did. This is book #3 of the Jackson Brodie series. I read #1 - Case Histories but not #2. No matter since I read Case Histories in 2007 and have very little recollection of it, other than I loved it. By the way I wrote my "review", I have no earthly idea what it was about. I mean, I have figments of the characters and story lines but not enough to remember the entire thing. And I sure didn't help with, yet another, lame write-up of a book.

So I'll have to start with little remembrance of Jackson Brodie but I do remember he was the main character in Case Histories. We meet him at a park where he's watching a group of children play soccer. He notices one in particular (oh, we don't know it's Jackson yet), and manages to pluck one of the boy's hair from his head as he returns a soccer ball to him.

This hair will be the one to determine if this young boy is his. The mother, an ex-lover, claims he is not but Jackson has to know for sure.

This part of the story isn't really revisited but it's the beginning of a wild ride for Jackson. He drives for hours trying to get back "home". He manages to finally get to the town he needed -- after what seemed to be an endless amount of writing that really didn't amount to much, IMHO -- to catch a train back to London, where he will meet back up with his wife. The new wife, who is on a business trip in the U.S.

Somehow, Jackson gets on the wrong train and heads away from London...and then, the train crashes. In Edinburgh.

Jackson is saved by a young girl, Reggie Chase. We already know Reggie by this part of the novel, as the story lines of Reggie and Jackson and Louise Monroe are intermingled.

Reggie is a sixteen year old girl who is a nanny for Joanna Hunter (more on that later), a doctor. She adores Joanna, as her own mother had passed away and she's pretty much on her own...except for her drug and troubled brother, who is never around.

Joanna Hunter and her son mysteriously disappear, leaving behind her dog, who Reggie knows would never be left behind. Joanna's husband acts very suspicious and somehow, Reggie is able to connect with Louise Monroe, a detective inspector who had earlier visited Joanna Hunter, before her disappearance.

Since Reggie saved Jackson in the train crash, she discovers that he is a retired private detective and, since she feels Louise is not believing her about her suspicions, she states that Jackson must find Joanna, since he owes her for saving his life.

Joanna Hunter, as we learn in the very beginning of the book, was six years old, walking alongside her new baby brother, her mom, their dog and her older sister when a man came out of nowhere and stabbed them all to death...except Joanna, who managed to hide in the fields until a young policeman named Jackson Brodie (we know this from Jackson, but no one else knows this) finds her.

Louise Monroe had come to Joanna earlier in the week (when Reggie met her) to warn her that the murderer of her family was about to be released from jail. So the mystery of the novel is: where is the murderer now and did he come back to finish what he started? Why is Joanna's husband lying about where Joanna really went?

It's a good book, nothing great. It was a long-winded novel as a lot of dialogue was in here that seemed to be extraneous. Nonetheless, I enjoyed Brodie's character and most especially loved Reggie Chase.

The most exciting part of the novel for me, however, was the killing spree of Joanna's family - the very beginning. Nothing came close to the drama of that horrific but well written story line.

In the end, Joanna and her son are safe. It had nothing to do with the murderer, who ended up committing suicide in Jackson's London apartment. Jackson also finds that he was duped by his wife, who managed to steal the millions of pounds he inherited from a cat lady from book #1.

There was never an explanation as to why the murders happened in the first place: why did this guy stab to death a baby, an 8 year old, a dog, and the young mother of all of these children? He was young enough that he wasn't that old when he was released from prison. But we never meet the murderer in the book, we never know why he did what he did and with something so brutal, his suicide is wrapped up as guilt for doing what he did...which just didn't bode well for me.

Granted, the book was very so-so but I wouldn't put the Brodie series out. I'll probably go back to book #2 and read that one...and maybe even the fourth. As I said, I'm not big into these one-character detective/mystery series but this one may be more for sentimental reasons as I have fond memories of Case Histories...although I may have to reread it.

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