“A man with an Irish accent could sound wise and poetic and interesting even when he wasn’t.”
In a quiet corner of rural Devon, a six-year-old girl witnesses an appalling crime. Thirty years later the man convicted of the crime is released from prison.
In Edinburgh, sixteen-year-old Reggie, wise beyond her years, works as a nanny for a G.P. But her employer has disappeared with her baby, and Reggie seems to be the only person who is worried. Across town, Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe is also looking for a missing person, unaware that hurtling towards her is a former acquaintance - Jackson Brodie – himself on a journey that is about to be fatally interrupted.
‘Celebrates love, laughter and literature so wholeheartedly that I cheered aloud. . . Everybody should read her’ Telegraph
‘Funny, bracingly intelligent…Kate Atkinson is that rarest of beasts, a genuinely surprising novelist’ Guardian
‘As in the best crime fiction, dramatic events and unexpected twists abound, but Atkinson subverts the genre’ Independent
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The heat rising up from the tarmac seemed to get trapped between the thick hedges that towered above their heads like battlements.
‘Oppressive,’ their mother said. They felt trapped too. ‘Like the maze at Hampton Court,’ their mother said. ‘Remember?’
‘Yes,’ Jessica said.
‘No,’ Joanna said.
‘You were just a baby,’ their mother said to Joanna. ‘Like Joseph is now.’ Jessica was eight, Joanna was six.
The little road (they always called it ‘the lane’) snaked one way and then another, so that you couldn’t see anything ahead of you. They had to keep the dog on the lead and stay close to the hedges in case a car ‘came out of nowhere’. Jessica was the eldest so she was the one who always got to hold the dog’s lead. She spent a lot of her time training the dog, ‘Heel!’ and ‘Sit!’ and ‘Come!’ Their mother said she wished Jessica was as obedient as the dog. Jessica was always the one who was in charge. Their mother said to Joanna, ‘It’s all right to have a mind of your own, you know. You should stick up for yourself, think for yourself,’ but Joanna didn’t want to think for herself.
The bus dropped them on the big road and then carried on to somewhere else. It was ‘a palaver’ getting them all off the bus. Their mother held Joseph under one arm like a parcel and with her other hand she struggled to open out his newfangled buggy. Jessica and Joanna shared the job of lifting the shopping off the bus. The dog saw to himself. ‘No one ever helps,’ their mother said. ‘Have you noticed that?’ They had.
‘Your father’s country fucking idyll,’ their mother said as the bus drove away in a blue haze of fumes and heat. ‘Don’t you swear,’ she added automatically, ‘I’m the only person allowed to swear.’
They didn’t have a car any more. Their father (‘the bastard’) had driven away in it. Their father wrote books, ‘novels’. He had taken one down from a shelf and shown it to Joanna, pointed out his photo graph on the back cover and said, ‘That’s me,’ but she wasn’t allowed to read it, even though she was already a good reader. (‘Not yet, one day. I write for grown-ups, I’m afraid,’ he laughed. ‘There’s stuff in there, well...’)
Their father was called Howard Mason and their mother’s name was Gabrielle. Sometimes people got excited and smiled at their father and said, ‘Are you the Howard Mason?’ (Or sometimes, not smiling, Howard Mason’ which was different although Joanna wasn’t sure how.)
Their mother said that their father had uprooted them and planted them ‘in the middle of nowhere’. ‘Or Devon, as it’s commonly known,’ their father said. He said he needed ‘space to write’ and it would be good for all of them to be ‘in touch with nature’. ‘No television!’ he said as if that was something they would enjoy.
Joanna still missed her school and her friends and Wonder Woman and a house on a street that you could walk along to a shop where you could buy the Beano and a liquorice stick and choose from three different kinds of apples instead of having to walk along a lane and a road and take two buses and then do the same thing all over again in reverse.
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'By becoming a crime writer she has - in a way that other 'literary' types may wish to note - become a better literary writer than ever: funny, bracingly intelligent and delightfully prickly . . . Kate Atkinson is that rarest of beasts, a genuinely surprising novelist'
'Atkinson's genius is her sure control of plot . . . immaculately - even lovingly - paced, and it is a measure of Atkinson's talent that I read it in one sitting . . . insightful, often funny, life-affirming'
'An exhilarating read. Her wry humour, sharp eye for the quirks of human behaviour and subtle characterisation are a constant joy...with writing of this quality, there is good news on every page'
'An intricately crafted tale of coincidence and fate, love and longing. From the get-go, Atkinson's pitch-perfect ear for dialogue is apparent . . . As in the best crime fiction, dramatic events and unexpected twists abound, but Atkinson subverts the genre by refusing to neatly tie up every thread. And while there is plenty of blood and bitterness, redemption and resolve are well represented too. Good news all around'
'Atkinson's world is full of bizarre accidents and meaningless murders, but she celebrates love, laughter and literature so wholeheartedly that I cheered aloud. She is one of the most eccentric of crime writers, and perhaps the sanest. Everybody should read her'
'Full of unsolved mysteries and suspense. It is one of those rare fictions that defies categorisation, creating a milieu that is a recognisable version of the real world but inflected with its author's preoccupations...contains startling moments of truth, and its insights into human nature are simply superb'
'The good news, of course, is that here is another Jackson Brodie thriller from the brilliant Kate Atkinson. The even better news is that . . . it's the most enthralling to date'
'Another faultless display by Kate Atkinson . . . Like the other titles in the Jackson Brodie series, this one plays with the tenets of the crime genre without ever sacrificing the essence of wit and nuance which make Atkinson's novels such jubilant reads'
Scotland on Sunday
'In this gripping new thriller by Kate Atkinson we are plunged into the heart of darkness . . . Suspense is tinglingly maintained throughout . . . shot through with wry wit and gritty realism'
'One of those writers who effortlessly bridges the gap between commercial and literary fiction'
Fay Weldon, Sunday Express
'Deliciously underhanded, echo-filled novel...so rewarding...it shows off an imagination so active that When Will There Be Good News? can barely contain it'
New York Times
'The opening chapter of Kate Atkinson's latest book is one of the finest pieces of suspense literature you will read this year . . . addictive . . . Atkinson is back at her best'
'Heralds the welcome return of Jackson Brodie . . . a brilliantly observed drama on the nature of fate, love and memory'
Marie Claire (Book of the Month)
'I love Kate's writing...a fantastic detective mystery'
'A masterclass in plot daring, an extended riff on coincidence, and a piercing evocation of love and loss in many forms. One of the fiercest, funniest, most affecting reads of the year'