A day like any other for security chief Tracy Waterhouse, until she makes a purchase she hadn't bargained for. One moment of madness is all it takes for Tracy 's humdrum world to be turned upside down, the tedium of everyday life replaced by fear and danger at every turn.
Witnesses to Tracy 's Faustian exchange in the Merrion Centre in Leeds are Tilly, an elderly actress teetering on the brink of her own disaster, and Jackson Brodie, who has returned to his home county in search of someone else's roots. All three characters learn that the past is never history and that no good deed goes unpunished.
Kate Atkinson dovetails and counterpoints her plots with Dickensian brilliance in a tale peopled with unlikely heroes and villains. Started Early, Took My Dog is freighted with wit, wisdom and a fierce moral intelligence. It confirms Kate Atkinson’s position as one of the great writers of our time.
The scene is set in Cambridge, with three case histories from the past: A young child who mysteriously disappeared from a tent in her back garden; An unidentified man in a yellow jumper who marched into an office and slashed a young girl through the throat; and a young woman found by the police sitting in her kitchen next to the body of her husband, an axe buried in his head. Jackson Brodie, a private investigator and former police detective, is quietly contemplating life as a divorced father when he is flung into the midst of these resurrected old crimes. Julia and Amelia Land, long having given up hope of uncovering the truth of what happened to their baby sister, Olivia, suddenly discover her lost toy mouse in the study of their recently-deceased father. Enlisting Jackson's help they embroil him in the complexities of their own jealousies, obsessions and lust. A woman named Shirley needs Jackson to help find her lost niece. Amidst the incessant demands of the Land sisters, Jackson meets solicitor Theo Wyre whose daughter, Laura, was murdered in his office and, now that the police case has been closed, is desperate for Jackson to help him lay Laura's ghost to rest. As he starts his investigations Jackson has the sinister feeling that someone is following him. As he begins to unearth secrets that have remained hidden for many years, he is assailed by his former wife's plan to take his young daughter away to live in New Zealand, and his stalker becomes increasingly malevolent and dangerous. In digging into the past Jackson seems to have unwittingly threatened his own future.This wonderfully crafted, intricately plotted novel is heartbreaking, uplifting, full of suspense and often very funny, and shows Kate Atkinson returning to the literary scene at the height of her powers.
As the saying goes, one good turn deserves another. The title of Kate Atkinson’s novel, One Good Turn, could describe the way that one character’s Good Samaritan behavior leads to him being robbed, mistakenly identified as a murder victim, and more. His is only one of several plot threads this novel, which is a suspenseful journey through the underworld of Edinburgh. One Good Turn certainly deserves the attention of readers looking for a novel that’s superbly-crafted and beautifully-written.