I discovered the books of Kate Atkinson through a review in the New York Times. And rushed right out to my local library to reserve When Will There Be Good News?
After about 10 pages, I realized that I was onto something. And I returned that book and checked out, Case Histories, the first of the series. I say series with hope. So far, there are three books in what Janet Maslin terms "books that would be chronologically linked if Ms. Atkinson had a simple sense of chronology." Which she doesn't.
Series or not, I wanted to start at the beginning.
Now I've finished book #2: ONE GOOD TURN. Next, I'm back to where I started, with Atkinson's newest. These books are hard to describe, other than saying they are fabulously written and fun to follow. Shifts in Point of View don't disrupt the action. Funny asides don't seem like author intrusions. I laughed at a lot of things in the first two books.
A favorite thought from One Good Turn: Martin, a writer/oddball of a character, imagines moving his fiction away from the linear narratives about his (boring) character and "writing a Borges-like construction where each story contained the kernel of the next and so on..something with intellectual cachet (something good)."
And this, as that same writer views the receptionist at the dump of a hotel he finds himself holed up in when a murder has kept him from his own house: "She had a smear of what looked like blood on her chin, but Martin thought it was more likely to be tomato ketchup."
That's about the way these first two mysteries progress. Weaving seamlessly from story to story, with kernels of characters, places, actions showing up from one to the next. Just great writing. And fun reading. In fact, reviewer Janet Maslin included When Will There Be Good News on her Top 10 list for 2008 (Along with Dennis Lehane's The Given Day, Edgar Sawtelle, and Ron Rash's Serena, among others).
I agree with Maslin who says she very much hopes Atkinson will continue the series. Here's what another favorite crime writer (if you can call them that), Harlan Coban, has to say:
Kate Atkinson is an absolute must-read. I love everything she writes.
Ditto that, Mr. Coban.
Writers in Paradise: Dennis Lehane