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Writing chum recommends a read, Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. After our writing session, I stop at Chapters/Indigo on the way home, because my mind is a plumber’s nightmare, a persistent leak that is eternal.

I enter, and, lo and forsooth, behold, Kate Atkinson is on display. Er, not Kate herself, but four of her releases. They are on sale. I partake in the store’s loyalty program, granting me an additional 10%.

I will not be denied.

I scoop all four books. Remember, this author comes highly recommended. I read Case Histories, the specific recommendation, first, and am greatly rewarded, a reward that exceeds my member’s discount. Tis a delightful read.

This year, I read a second Atkinson novel. One Good Turn is a continuation of Case Histories’ hero, Jackson Brodie’s, journey. I related well to Jackson’s inner turmoil, and so in cracking the spine, felt I was catching up with a good friend.

Atkinson’s style is an electrifyingly good marriage of literary and flatfoot detective. Her narrative voice engaging, rich and so deliciously subtle, the snorts take me by surprise.

Gloria didn’t believe in heaven although she did occasionally worry that it was a place that existed only if you did believe in it. She wondered if people would be so keen on the idea of the next life if it was, say, underground. Or full of people like Pam. 

A few lines later…

Gloria would rather like to be the Grim Reaper. She wouldn’t necessarily be grim, she suspected she would be quite cheerful (Come along now, don’t make such a fuss).

In another character’s point of view…

She (she being Louise) had drunk what she thought of as a moderate three glasses of wine last night but it was taking its toll on her. Her mouth felt like an old boot and the Peking duck that had accompanied the wine still lived on like a game old bird.

Four chapters later, Louise’s dry internalization still tickles with the dry touch of mummy’s dust…

Eager-beaver, Louise had heard Jessica called. She was trying so hard to become one of the boys that she looked as if she might have started shaving.

Back to Gloria…

Their parts were fixed–Graham was the villain, Ewan took the role of worthy leading man, Nick was his long-suffering sidekick and Emily was forever the adolescent ingenue, the moody daughter whose life had been blighted by everyone else (apparently). Gloria herself was offstage, playing the woman in the kitchen. They wheeled out Graham’s mother, Beryl, for Christmas Day and she sat on the sofa dribbling. An extra with a non-speaking part.

And now, for a taste of the story’s hero, Jackson…

‘You look like someone who’s dead,’ he whispered. Yes, he had decided this was a conversation-killer but here he was using it anyway.

Yup. I believe Kate Atkinson is dry humour at its self-depracating best. And she knows how to weave one helluva good tale.

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