I know. I’m on an obsessive roll. My third Kate Atkinson/Jackson Brodie book in a month. But that’s one of the advantages of catching up with a series later on—you don’t have to tap your toes waiting for the next installment. There’s one more book in the series (so far): Started Early, Took My Dog. I’m sure I’ll be reading it soon.
The beginning of When Will There Be Good News? is so sad that I almost stopped reading. I’ve been feeling blue lately, and a sad book didn’t seem like the most appropriate diversion. But there’s something so mesmerizing about Atkinson’s writing, that I kept heading back in. And the book has gotten sadder still.
Senseless murder, as witnessed by a six-year old girl.
But the man had a knife, and he kept raising it in the air, so that it shone like silver in the hot afternoon sun. Her mother started to scream. There was blood on her face, on her hands, on her strong legs, on her strawberry dress.
A literate, lonely teen.
Little Miss Nobody. Sister of the lesser Billy. Orphan of the storm. Little Miss Polly Flinders sitting amongst the cinders.
And Jackson in a train wreck (CARNAGE! reads the next day’s headline).
People and luggage were thrown around indiscriminately in a grotesque jumble, lit only by the sparks from metal on metal and the occasional unpleasant light intermittently shed by something electrical that was shorting overhead.
I’m on page 199, and the only good news is the remarkable way that Atkinson lathers and swoops and jiggles to deliver her characters’ points of view, those fabulous internal monologues at the core of her writing.
DCI Louise Fletcher, for one, is in a dark place. She’s got a brand new husband: a wealthy and successful orthopedic surgeon who treats her like a queen. She’s got a trendy flat to kick around in and a three-and-a-half carat diamond to weigh down her left hand. And she’s spoiling for a fight: with her in-laws, with her husband, with the guy who slaughtered three women during a domestic abuse incident gone horribly wrong. You want to scream at her—allow yourself to be happy!—at the same time that you completely understand how very, very trapped she feels. Here’s Louise’s acid take on her sister-in-law’s outfit:
Bridget had once been a fashion buyer for a department store chain, although you would never have guessed it to look at her. She was wearing an aggressive three-piece outfit that was probably very expensive but had the kind of pattern you would get if you cut up the flags of several obscure countries and then gave them to a blind pigeon to stick back together again.
And another bit of good news. I resisted watching this installment on Masterpiece Mystery because I’d just started reading the book. I’m happier not knowing where the plot is churning…