A woman and three children are living in the country; a husband is off writing his novels and having affairs—in the city—and against this backdrop, the unexpected happens. On an otherwise blissful day, an intruder stalks into all of their lives, murdering the woman and two of her children, while another child cowers in the field nearby, unharmed.
Except, of course, for that nasty post-traumatic stress disorder that clings to her—forever.
This is the past, to which the reader is introduced in When Will There Be Good News?: A Novel, followed by an influx of seemingly unrelated characters—Reggie, who is Dr. Hunter’s nanny; Louise, an unhappily-married police officer, fondly recalling a love she almost had, a long time ago; Jackson, married twice and cuckolded by a lover, whose infant child may inadvertently belong to him; and Ms. MacDonald, a former teacher, now retired. Somehow, all of these disparate individuals are connected by at least one common thread.
A train wreck…Indeed, as one character hurtles along on a train headed toward London, or so Jackson believes, it is actually headed toward Edinburgh. When it lurches and turns on its side, its passengers tossed about, everything becomes tangled—literally. When Jackson ends up in hospital, miraculously kept alive by CPR administered by one Reggie Chase, he has the wrong ID on him. This fact sets the tale in a completely different direction.
Unbeknownst to these two characters—Reggie, the nanny, and Jackson, a former police detective—Dr. Hunter and her baby have gone missing. Ah, yes – Dr. Hunter is the former Joanna Mason, the child accidentally left alive by the murderer all those years ago—and to compound the case even further, the murderer, one Andrew Decker, has just been released from prison.
With the alternating storylines and characters, careening toward the answers to so many questions, I kept turning these pages, almost breathless, anticipating the conclusions. And, of course, there are many surprises at the end, which makes this more than an ordinary mystery, or a simple love story, and certainly not a predictable drama.
This writer skillfully teases the reader, pushing and pulling the facts around, until they arrange themselves in such a clever way. I found myself going back to the beginning again, wondering what I might have missed—what clue I had overlooked—in order to have been so stunned by the ending.
A stylish and compelling thriller, this is a book that lingers in the mind for a long, long time.