Title: When Will There Be Good News?
Author: Kate Atkinson
Release Date: September 24, 2008
Rating: **** (out of 5)
From the dust jacket:
On a hot and beautiful day in the English countryside, six-year-old Joanna Mason witnesses an appalling crime. Thirty years later, the man convicted of the crime is released from prison.
Sixteen-year-old Reggie works as a nanny for a doctor devoted to her new young son. But Dr. Hunter has gone missing, and Reggie, no stranger to bad luck and worse, seems to be the only person who is worried.
Detective Chief Inspector Louise Montroe is also looking for a missing person, unaware that hurtling toward her is an old friend – Jackson Brodie – himself on a journey that becomes fatally interrupted.
As lives and histories intersect, as past mistakes and current misfortunes collide, Jackson is caught up in the most personal, and dangerous, investigation of his life.
After having heard rave reviews of Kate Atkinson’s suspense novels, I decided to give the first, Case Histories a try. I thought Atkinson was a talented writer, but felt the book had been over-hyped; I was expecting the best suspense novel I had ever read, and it certainly wasn’t that. Since then, I’ve seen Atkinson’s books here and there, and have wanted to try another one to discern why people loved her books so much. When Miriam at Hachette Book Group offered me the chance to review When Will There Be Good News?, I got that chance.
When Will There Be Good News? is the third in a series of books about Jackson Brodie, a former police officer-turned-private investigator. As I mentioned, I’ve read the first, Case Histories, but haven’t read the middle novel, One Good Turn. However, I didn’t feel as if I was missing too much; these books seem to be able to function as stand alone novels.
I’m glad to say that I very much enjoyed When Will There Be Good News? Atkinson’s ability to juggle multiple storylines and flawlessly weave them together is impressive; I have to wonder how she is able to keep it all straight while she is writing! She also fleshes out her characters very well; the reader can identify with each and understand their thoughts and motivations. Atkinson’s writing is clear and sharp; it is easy to fall into and spend the entire afternoon reading one of her books.
I can’t really say that When Will There Be Good News? is any better than Case Histories, yet I enjoyed reading it much more. I think that’s because I don’t see Atkinson’s novels as works of suspense; they are definitely mysteries, and there are elements of suspense contained within, but they are not suspense novels. In my mind, suspense novels are the mass market paperback suspense/thriller books; Atkinson’s work is so much more. It is more literary and more personal. But that also has its downsides as well; the story doesn’t move quickly. It takes a long time to set up (which was my problem with Case Histories) and the multiple storylines are difficult to juggle. I think I went into Case Histories expecting an easy read; I didn’t realize that reading the book would make me use my brain!
When Will There Be Good News? is an interestingly crafted novel that is so much more than a suspenseful mystery. Atkinson confronts the reader with tragedy and with the ongoing struggle of life, presented through multiple storylines seamlessly woven together into a coherent whole.