Picks and Pans Review: When Will There Be Good News?

UPDATED 09/29/2008 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 09/29/2008 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Kate Atkinson

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Readers who devoured Atkinson's two previous literary thrillers about policeman-turned-PI Jackson Brodie may feel that they're on familiar turf with her latest. Like her smartly executed Case Histories, published in '04, this new Brodie mystery opens with a heat wave followed by a shocking crime.

This time, though, Atkinson tosses so many elements into the mix that her protagonist—a wisecracking teen with a tattered life—fades into the background. Arson, kidnapping, blackmail, murder by ink pen—there's enough mayhem for an entire season of CSI, but a banged-up Brodie spends much of his time out of commission after a fateful train wreck.

If anyone saves the day, it's Louise Monroe, the tough, sexy (newlywed) detective who can't stop loving him. Monroe, in fact, is charismatic enough to play a much bigger role the next time around—perhaps one that involves cutting straight to the romantic chase.

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