When is a detective novel not a detective novel? When it is written by Kate Atkinson. "When Will There Be Good News" is the third novel by Kate Atkinson to feature ex detective and now ex private detective Jackson Brodie. All the ingredients for a detective novel are there. In these 3 books there are various crimes, murder, a detective with a troubled past and a mystery to explain. However these aren't who dunnits or even why dunnits and the big reveal is often more of a quick flash. What these novels deal with is the power of coincidence and consequence linked to the fact that good things and bad things happen to people all the time.
This book follows the same pattern as the other two, a series of seemingly random events are gradually revealed to be linked, to form a pattern of cause and effect with often the smallest thing setting the most dominoes toppling.
The book starts with a young girl witnessing the random murder of her mother and younger brother and sister, and thirty years later the man responsible is about to be released from jail.
At the same time an old before her time girl of 16 begins to suspect that there is something more to the disappearance of her employer than a visit to an ill aunt.
Jackson Brodie the only character that links all 3 books realises he is on a train heading the wrong way just before his life is turned upside down. Meanwhile a policewoman from the previous book (One Good Turn) is also looking for missing person, only this one had tried to gun down his family at his daughter's birthday party.
Slowly but surely these characters and events start to converge showing both major and minor links. As i mentioned the fun is not in the solving of the crime , but in watching the puzzle gradually fall into place, whilst taking you on a journey that quietly subverts the genre expectations.
It is not all about plot. Atkinson creates great characters and gives them moments of gentle humour, subtle insights that help them rise above both the mundane and the tragic
Whether you like detectives or not this is well worth a read