Thursday, January 7, 2010

Book Review of Kate Atkinson's When Will There Be Good News?

The blurb:
On a hot, beautiful day in the English countryside, six-year-old Joanna Mason witnesses a horrific crime. Thirty years later, the man convicted of the crime is released from prison.

Sixteen-year-old Reggie works as a nanny for a doctor devoted to her infant son. When Dr. Hunter goes missing, Reggie - no stranger to bad luck and worse seems to be the only person who is worried.

Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe is also looking for a missing person, unaware that hurtling toward her is an old friend, private detective Jackson Brodie, himself on a journey that becomes fatally interrupted.

As lives and histories intersect, as past mistakes and current misfortunes collide, Jackson and Louise both get caught up in an investigation that will call into question everything they once thought true.

The blurb of When Will There Be Good News? piqued my interest, but the first few pages had me hooked.

The novel opens to a scene of violence and loss and gives us six-year-old Joanna Mason's third person account of the day that she lost her family. Somehow, despite the details of the day and Joanna's youth, we get a sense of the woman that she becomes. Admirable, strong, courageous, and simpatico.

The other women characters are similarly compelling and parts of the story is told in the third person but from their points of view. There's Reggie who seems to be stalked by death. Brilliant, she did well academically at the horrible posh school where she'd been awarded a scholarship. But socially, the school was a disaster for Reggie. When freed from her mother's watchful eye, Reggie trades school for two jobs and private tutoring of sorts. Reggie's favorite place is at Dr. Hunter's home, with the baby, Dr. Hunter and the dog. Clean, full of light, warm and welcoming, it is where Reggie feels most useful and at home.

The organized, well-read, caring, and efficient Dr. Hunter seems a strange match with her dodgy husband in the "entertainment business". But while Reggie and Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe may shake their heads, love is a strange business. When you're among those that Dr. Hunter loves, you bask in the warmth of her affection. She'll phone to speak to baby and to the dog. Accomplished but not vain, Dr. Hunter is an "all rounder" - an athlete, musician, gifted doctor, cherished mother, wife, and friend. Her judgement in all things, excepting her husband, seems unimpeachable.

Through the character and point of view of Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe, the book moves towards the tradition of the British detective novels. Centered on work to the detriment of her marriage and social life, DCI Monroe reminds us that When Will There Be Good News? is a detective thriller and mystery. As DCI Monroe and Reggie work to piece together the mystery of Dr. Hunter's disappearance, the tension rises and leads us to a satisfying end.

I thoroughly enjoyed When Will There Be Good News? I laughed, cried, couldn't put it down. If you like detective novels, give it a try. This book is great for a long trip, a cold afternoon or whenever you're looking for a fully satisfying read! Plus, it comes out in paperback on Jan. 10. I'm so glad to have discovered Kate Atkinson.

Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (January 11, 2010), 416 pages.
ISBN-10: 0316012831
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of the publisher:
Kate Atkinson lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, was named Whitbread Book of the Year in the U.K. in 1995, and was followed by Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Not the End of the World, Case Histories, and One Good Turn. Learn more by visiting Kate Atkinson's website at

Do you want your own copy of When Will There Be Good News? Win it here! When Will There Be Good News? contest ends on Jan. 31. Can't wait? Order the paperback which comes out on Jan. 10, 2010!

Thank you so much to Miriam, Valerie, and Hatchette Books Group for this review opportunity!

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