Kate Atkinson obviously loves to play with language—One Good Turn, her sequel to Case Histories, is chock full of riffs and loops and twirls within her characters’ streams of consciousness.

About Gloria, who’s re-assessing her life as the wife of a corrupt housing magnate: “Her past already seemed an antiquated curiosity—a virtual space re-created by the museum of the future.”

What Jackson, the former soldier, sees and thinks as he leaves Edinburgh Castle:

Crowds flowed down the Royal Mile like the lava that had once molded landscape out of fire, moving around obstacles in the way—the statue of David Hume, a mime artist, a piper, several student theater groups, people handing out flyers (lots of them), another piper, a man eating fire, a man juggling fire, a woman dressed as Mary Queen of Scots, a man dressed as Sherlock Holmes. Another piper. It certainly was a city en fête. It was strange to think that—far away in a country about which people knew nothing—there was a war going on. But then there was always a war going on somewhere. War was the human condition. War had fed, clothed, and paid Jackson in its time, so perhaps he shouldn’t be the one to complain. (Although someone should.)

Martin, the soft-crime writer (and vegetarian), has an imaginary life worthy of a bad romance novel:

It was usually early spring, the sky pale and austere, the wind sharp, new daffodil shoots spearing their way out of their earth silos in the garden outside. It was also nearly always Sunday morning for some reason (probably to do with spending weekends in a boarding school). A leg of lamb (no animal was harmed in the making of this fantasy) was sizzling in the old cream Aga in the kitchen. Martin had already chopped mint, grown in their own garden. They sat in the living room, in armchairs covered in William Morris’s “Strawberry Thief” fabric, and each drank a small sherry while listening to a recording of the Goldberg Variations. This woman with no name harmoniously shared his taste in all music, poetry, drama. . . .