One Good Turn

A Jolly Murder Mystery

Publisher: Anchor Canada
Case Histories, once again featuring ex-cop turned private investigator Jackson Brodie.

It is summer, it is the Edinburgh Festival. People queuing for a lunchtime show witness a road-rage incident – an incident which changes the lives of everyone involved. Jackson Brodie, ex-army, ex-police, ex-private detective, is also an innocent bystander – until he becomes a suspect.

With Case Histories, Kate Atkinson showed how brilliantly she could explore the crime genre and make it her own. In One Good Turn she takes her masterful plotting one step further. Like a set of Russian dolls each thread of the narrative reveals itself to be related to the last. Her Dickensian cast of characters are all looking for love or money and find it in surprising places. As ever with Atkinson what each one actually discovers is their true self.

Unputdownable and triumphant, One Good Turn is a sharply intelligent read that is also percipient, funny, and totally satisfying.

From the Hardcover edition.



HE WAS LOST. HE WASN'T USED TO BEING LOST. HE WAS THE KIND OF man who drew up plans and then executed them efficiently, but now everything was conspiring against him in ways he decided he couldn't have foreseen. He had been stuck in a jam on the A1 for two mind-numbing hours so that it was already past the...
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“This is a detective novel packed with more wit, insight, and subtlety than an entire shelf full of literary fiction… the plot is an incidental pleasure in a book crammed with quirky humour and cogent reflections on contemporary life…. Highly recommended reading.” — Marie Claire (5/5 Stars)

“[Atkinson] writes like an angel and her sense of humor is wed firmly to her formidable intelligence… a wonderful read…. I remain utterly impressed by Kate Atkinson. I’ll definitely be reading anything else she cares to publish.” — Philadelphia Inquirer

“The suspense ratchets up quickly and palpably, as surely as when the doctor experiments with different settings for your new pacemaker. . . . One Good Turn is full of a zippy satire that provides a smooth skating surface for the reader to whiz through. This is clean, purposeful prose that drives the plot, wickedly funny in places, sometimes quietly insightful and fairly faithful to the traditional mystery form. Atkinson’s novel is like something her detective might drink in the wee hours after knocking around the docks, something straight up with a twist.” —The Globe and Mail

One Good Turn is the most fun I’ve had with a novel this year.”–Ian Rankin, in the Guardian (UK)

“Thrillingly addictive. . . . In One Good Turn Atkinson proves quite unique in her ability to fuse emotional drama and thriller. She is so successful that it is surprising this has not been attempted more often (although it takes a writer of extraordinary range to bring it off).”–The Times (UK)

One Good Turn is an absolute joy to read. . . . The pleasure of One Good Turn lies in the ride, in Atkinson’s wry, unvanquished characters, her swooping, savvy, sarcastic prose and authorial joie de vivre.”–Guardian (UK)

“In One Good Turn, . . . the deft and tricky British author Kate Atkinson shows again, in her inimitable bleakly funny way, how much easier it is to explain a death than to solve a life.” –The New York Times Book Review
One Good Turn . . . demonstrates that no good deed goes unpunished, often violently. A fender-bender outside a comedy performance initiates a run of multiple murders, enlivened by comic set pieces.”–The Village Voice (A Favourite Book of 2006)
“Crackling one-liners, spot-on set pieces and full-blooded characters help make this another absorbing character study from the versatile, effervescent Atkinson.” — Publishers Weekly

“[Atkinson has a] knack for psychological portraiture and dark humor… Paradoxically, murder has given her a framework that helps liberate her insights on the living, as the lurking presence of corpses reminds readers there are worse offenses than bad parenting and worse fates than unhappy marriages…. Atkinson knows that the line between victim and tormentor can be blurry and that survivors sometimes have good reasons for guilt…. Astutely, Atkinson has noticed that the high-tech lifestyle has given rise to a high-tech deathstyle that makes the old props of detective fiction — fingerprints, dusting powder, alibis — as passé as a fedora.” —The New York Times

“Perhaps the most consummately all-round book of the year is Kate Atkinson’s One Good Turn, a marvelous thriller so beautifully written you’d stop to admire the prose if you weren’t so busy page-turning…. It features a killer most writers would die for, and a plot that touches genius. It’s unalloyed pleasure from first to last.” — The Scotsman

“In [Atkinson’s] skilful hands, the occasionally grisly story that unfolds amid the festivities often has a surprisingly humorous, almost lighthearted spirit…. These characters are complex, being by turns philosophical, cranky, melancholy, bemused, and confused…. Atkinson provides some surprising denouements as she deftly twists the convergent narrative threads into one vivid tapestry.” —Vancouver Sun

"This is a detective novel packed with more wit, insight, and subtlety than an entire shelf full of literary fiction… the plot is an incidental pleasure in a book crammed with quirky humour and cogent reflections on contemporary life…. Highly recommended reading.” — Marie Claire (5/5 Stars)
"Atkinson’s voice rings on every page, and her sly and wry observations move the plot as swiftly as suspense turns the pages of a thriller.” San Francisco Chronicle

“Atkinson is a restrained, perceptive writer skilled at telling stories from multiple and hugely diverse points of view… Her prose is piercing, lucid and perceptive.” USA Today

“Acerbic, eccentric, and maddeningly perverse, she is a writer I always read with my heart in my mouth, as if watching a trapeze artist perform a high-wire act between cockiness and courage. Here, as in Case Histories, she is splendid at the stuff of people’s lives… Her observations about Edinburgh are easily as funny as Alexander McCall Smith’s, though less benign.” — The Independent

“Atkinson endows her cast with a fascinating richness of life. . . . Whatever she does is done to the highest of literary standards. She has produced an engrossing, enjoyable, complex novel packed with intriguing characters, vividly imagined scenes and a compelling plot.”
Times Literary Supplement (UK)

“Atkinson is best at the quiet desperation of middle-aged marriages, and characters revealed by the intricacies of a plot that exploits flashbacks and missed connections. Atkinson, while having fun with the murder-mystery genre, slyly slips us a muted tragedy.”
The Telegraph (UK)

“It doesn’t really matter in which genre Atkison chooses to write. Her subject is always the irrecoverable loss of love and how best to continue living once you have glumly recognised that. . . . Her gift is in presenting this unnerving and subversive philosophy as a dazzling form of entertainment.”
Sunday Times (UK)

“Atkinson is frequently very funny – the extracts from Martin’s Nina Blake novels, in particular, are a sustained comic highlight–but while the tone stays light, the plot continues to darken. . . . [One Good Turn is] that rarest of things–a good literary novel and a cracking holiday read.”
Observer (UK)

From the Hardcover edition.