Mar. 9th, 2017

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I liked the first of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie novels, Case Histories, and was less keen on the second, One Good Turn, finding it very bleak and rather disturbingly violent in places and without the uplifting qualities I'd found in Atkinson's earlier books. Coming back to the third in the series after reading Life After Life and A God in Ruins, I found it both bleak and disturbingly violent in places, and also wonderful and uplifting and very funny.

When Will There Be Good News isn't really a detective novel; it's a novel about a former detective and a police officer, and while there is a missing-person case at the centre of the plot it's much more about the effects of violent crime, and violent death more generally, on people: on Jackson Brodie, whose life is lived in the shadow of his sister's murder; on 16-year-old Reggie, whose soldier father was killed before she was born and whose mother recently died in an accident; and on Joanna, who is the sole survivor of a horrific attack. It's a novel about how quickly and suddenly we can lose the people we care about, how fragile life is, and how the bonds between people (and their pets) make life worth living despite that. It is, like most of Atkinson's work, a cheerful book about terrible things, and I could barely put it down.

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