So I think I may be a little burned out on Kate Atkinson novels. This one was my fifth of hers since May, so I’m probably going to take a bit of a break from her for a while.
When Will There Be Good News? is the third in the Jackson Brodie series (although I’m reading it last) and was definitely my favorite of the four. Atkinson likes to take seemingly disparate storylines and weave them together, to show how lives overlap in unexpected ways, and that can often get unwieldy and be unsatisfying for the reader, as she creates these connections with varying degrees of success. This was by far the most cohesive of the series, and it worked better than any of the others for that reason.
As always, it’s difficult to discuss a mystery without giving much away. To give a basic plot summary: Jackson Brodie finds himself, once again, at the center of a web of mystery and violence after his involvement in a deadly and devastating train crash. His life is saved by Reggie, an orphaned sixteen-year-old, who has her own problems to deal with: Dr. Hunter, her beloved employer, has gone missing, and no one seems to care. Also involved is Louise Monroe, who played a large role in the previous book; she’s trying to keep tabs on two murderers, while dealing with her less-than-satisfying new marriage–and her lingering feelings for Jackson.
I felt like the pieces of the puzzle just worked here. I was totally satisfied by the ending and never once felt like the connections Atkinson makes between the storylines were implausible (which is a problem I had with books #2 and #4 and, to a certain degree, #1). These stories don’t just bounce off of each other–they’re integral to one another, and that’s the difference between this and the other books. I also felt like this book had more of a central theme (that of loneliness), which helped bind the plotlines together. The mystery was also far more compelling than in #2 and #4.
Overall, this was a very good mystery and book on its own, and the best in the series overall. Read it if you like well-written mysteries or if you’re an Atkinson fan.