BookBrowse Reviews When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

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When Will There Be Good News?

A Novel

by Kate Atkinson

When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2008, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2010, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Patty Magyar

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Three lives come together in unexpected and deeply thrilling ways

I find that I must agree with mystery/suspense author Harlan Coban in saying that Kate Atkinson is a "must read" author. When Will There Be Good News begins with a horrible life altering crime that occurred to a family over 30 years ago. The results of this crime unfold throughout the span of the story. Kate Atkinson has the amazing ability to allow individual pieces of the lives of her characters to connect and intermix and even unravel in a mesmerizing fast paced way. I fully intended to read this book in a calm and normal manner but once the story began to unfold…I literally attacked the book and could not resume my regular life until I had read the final page. In fact, I read the last 50 pages so breathlessly that I could not have stopped reading if I had wanted to. I literally did not want the story to end even while I was speed-reading to the finale.

Atkinson fills her story with a wide cast of well developed, fascinating characters, including:

  • Jackson Brodie, a former police officer now turned private investigator whom we first met in Kate Atkinson’s earlier works Case Histories and One Good Turn.
  • Louise Munroe, a police investigator who shares a history with Jackson Brodie.
  • Dr. Joanna Hunter, who has a very strong and compelling connection with the 30 year old crime that begins this book.
  • Reggie, Dr. Hunter’s "mother’s help" who is firmly convinced in a uniquely comedic way…that very bad things seem to gather around her even as she remains a light hearted, charmingly funny but sad character.
  • Neil Hunter, Dr. Joanna's somewhat mysterious underhanded husband.
  • Reggie's brother, Billy, a drug dealing small time amoralistic thug.
  • Ms. McDonald, a seemingly harmless innocent, even innocuous, character who is a part of Reggie’s life and a key hinge upon which the plot turns.

The list goes on, including characters who are key players without us even meeting them including Scout and Sadie, two dogs who are essential to the way Kate Atkinson unfolds each character and relationship.

When Will There Be Good News is very readable, although complex, it is not the kind of complexity wherein you must go back and read and reread again. The characters and their unfolding relationships to each other become a part of you. You will yearn for everyone to end their lives happy and unscarred even as quite horrible actions and events unfold all over Edinburgh. Kate Atkinson’s newest book is not a quiet ride…it is a roller coaster of surprises and thrills and chills that will leave you feeling a bit breathless as you read its final chapter.

Coming Soon
Started Early, Took My Dog, Atkinson's fourth novel to feature Jackson Brodie will publish in the UK in August 2010; no USA date is known at this time.

Reviewed by Patty Magyar

This review was originally published in October 2008, and has been updated for the January 2010 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



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