NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED — A Review of “One Good Turn”

When a mysterious man driving a Peugeot puts on the brakes to avoid hitting a passenger, he is struck from behind by a blue Honda. This action sets in motion a whole series of events – beginning with Honda Man wielding a bat toward Peugeot driver’s head – which next leads to a bystander’s intervention. The mild-mannered bystander hits the bat-wielding individual with his laptop case.

The lives of these disparate individuals collide in this moment; then they begin to intersect at various points along the way in the upcoming days. As it turns out, the mild-mannered man is a successful mystery writer – Martin Canning – who pens his novels under the name Alex Blake. The man in the Peugeot is “Paul Bradley,” but in actuality, this is an alias. And Honda Man turns out to be one Terence Smith.

Add to the mix a businessman, Graham Hatter, whose dealings are fraudulent; his disenchanted wife Gloria, who is not unhappy when he has an accident in a hotel room with a woman and ends up in ICU, near death; and then toss in the machinations of members of a cleaning/miscellaneous assignments crew called Favors – and you have the makings for a complex suspense tale that draws the attention of the local police – namely Louise Monroe – and a former policeman/private detective named Jackson Brodie.

All are in Edinburgh, where a Festival is going on – and where Julia, Jackson’s girlfriend, is a participant, along with comedian Richard Mott, who also happens to be Martin Canning’s houseguest.

How does each of these characters figure into the overall plot? Who has set in motion the events that will lead to murder, mayhem, and destruction? Rapidly turning pages, hoping to find the answers, I could not get there fast enough.

Just as exciting as Atkinson’s previous and subsequent novels, Case Histories: A Novel and When Will There be Good News? (Import) (UK Hardcover) Atkinson, One Good Turn: A Jolly Murder Mystery leaves the reader wanting more – all the way to the surprising end.

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