Okay, have you read Kate Atkinson yet? No? What are you waiting for!?
I was late to the party too. I first read Case Histories early last year. I was astounded by the complex plotting and character development.
When Will There Be Good News is just as wonderful. Former cop turned private detective Jackson Brodie is again featured. So is Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe. These two have a complicated background together and their individual lives are just as muddled. But they're dogged investigators.
The novel opens 30 years in the past. Six year old Joanna Mason is the only survivor of a brutal random attack on her family. Today she is a doctor, with a husband and a young son who is the focus of her being. She employs sixteen year old Reggie as a child care helper. Reggie has lived a hard life so far, but she is highly intelligent and devoted to Dr. Hunter and baby Gabriel. When the doctor and baby go missing, no one but Reggie seems to even note or care that she's gone.
That's the two cent version of the plot as I don't want to give any more away. The plotting is magnificent and the way the different layers unfold and join is just superb. Atkinson tells the same story from the point of view of the four main characters. From each telling we get a little more of the whole, a piece of pertinent information that helps weave the story to it's conclusion.
Just as enthralling is the character development. Each character's personal story, feelings and emotions are so clearly described that they fairly leap off the page. None of the players are cookie cutters either. They're all a little wounded and quirky. Atkinson's sly sense of humour shines through in many of the situations that would normally call for gravity.
When Will There Be Good News has it all - unfortunately I devoured it in two days....