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One Good Turn    by Kate Atkinson Amazon.com order for
One Good Turn
by Kate Atkinson
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

One Good Turn is, in my estimation, one of the better mysteries of the year. It takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland, where Jackson Brodie (ex-cop, ex-PI, now a wealthy retiree living in France) has followed his girlfriend Julia for the Arts Festival.

Jackson witnesses an accident which results in road rage that could have ended in a death but for an instinctual act by a stranger who intervenes. Said act sets off a series of incidents that seem totally unrelated, involving characters who have no knowledge of each other. Somehow their lives become intertwined in such a way that - if it weren't for the writing skills of author Kate Atkinson - the story would never have played out.

Edinburgh is a great locale, but the gems in this novel are the characters. The reader not only walks the streets of that lovely Scottish city with them, but also resides inside the head of each and every major player. Their backgrounds, their current lives, their hopes, their dreams, their regrets, and the things they wish they had never done or wished they had, are laid out for us so that we can cogitate over their innermost thoughts.

We become one with each person and worry - or, when appropriate, gloat - with them. We startle when they are surprised and can almost feel the warmth of a good hot cup of tea in their hands. I simply can't give you a brief synopsis of this compelling drama cum mystery. I could not do it justice nor do I want to spoil the plot for you. I'll simply say that One Good Turn is a must-read, not to be missed. In it, Kate Atkinson gives us writing at its finest.

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