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When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

... the field of wheat had closed around her like a golden blanket. [Jessica] was lying with her arms around the body of the dog and their blood had mingled and soaked into the dry earth, feeding the grain, like a sacrifice to the harvest.
from page 11

When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson is actually the third book to feature British private investigator Jackson Brodie. I haven't read the other two. But Atkinson does not write or present this novel like your stereotypical series novel; it is not even your stereotypical mystery novel setup. The story is much more intricate and complicated with several threads of story unspooling simultaneously that in time are revealed to be connected. Each chapter generally shifts from one of three main characters' viewpoints until later in the book when the fourth main character's viewpoint is introduced.

Reggie is a lonely, isolated sixteen year old orphan; she works for Dr. Hunter as a mother's helper caring for Hunter's baby boy. Reggie's tragic history is revealed in pieces of flashbacks throughout the first part of the book.

Jackson Brodie, former soldier, former policeman, former private investigator and newly minted millionaire, is on a mission to prove that his ex-girlfriend's son is indeed his own despite her claims otherwise; ultimately, a massive disaster literally forces his path to collide with Reggie's.

Dr. Hunter, a general surgeon, has survived and thrived in spite of a past devastating tragedy that altered her family forever. Now that the man who caused that tragedy has been set free, Dr. Hunter is missing with her infant son; her squirrely husband appears unconcerned, but Reggie, who knows how to recognize trouble when she sees it, is very worried.

Finally Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe is obsessed with a domestic abuse case that sparks its own bloody, violent tragedy, and she searches for the husband involved in that case; meanwhile, a new case involving Dr. Hunter's husband and the mysterious burning of one of his businesses sets Monroe on the trail of this new mystery.

Ultimately the various mysteries set forth involving different characters take a backseat to the focus and attention that Atkinson gives to developing and illuminating her characters' inner lives. These intricately intertwined stories' connections are slowly revealed. This is a beautifully written novel with surprising turns of phrases that illuminate the characters' personalities and brings them to life.

I highly recommend this novel; and perhaps you'll even enjoy the two Brodie novels preceding this one. It is available upstairs in adult fiction here at the Matthews Public Library and upon request from Annville Free Library, Myerstown Community Library and Palmyra Public Library.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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