I can heartily recommend When Will There Be Good News? to just about anyone.
Like mysteries or detective fiction? How about novels of manners? Post-modern brain twisters? Surely you like nursery rhymes, at least.
This is the third of Kate Atkinson’s books to feature Jackson “I used to be a police officer” Brodie. Do I wish I had another freakishly good read like Human Croquet? Of course I do. But these are plenty of fun, too, with a distinctly Atkinson humor and humanity.
There’s play on everything from Shakespeare and Greek mythology to Wallace & Gromit, Harry Potter and Toy Stories. Louise the crusty detective gets to play the part of Mrs. Dalloway, a riff on the perfectly lovely life she’s ended up living. Obviously this life feels like fiction to Louise, who can spot a pretender faster than you can say Holden Caulfield. And the yearnings of Brodie and Monroe must follow the plot of some Bronte or Austen novel (I probably only saw the movie), where twists of fate have lovers marry the wrong people but come together years later.
The narrative is in one sense entirely realistic, with none of the bizarre magical realism of Atkinson’s first two novels. But Atkinson is playing with the coincidences that make for easily satisfying plots. “A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen,” Brodie says. Unbelievable accidents pile up on far-fetched flukes to set the stage, build the plot, and sew things up neatly. And after all, what’s wrong with that? Most of the plot comes full circle, and Atkinson sets the stage for a fourth installment, in which Jackson Brodie and Louise Monroe are unencumbered to connect.