Clarke Hayes

Bookends: When will there be good news? | 17 June 2011

Clarke Hayes has written the Bookends column in this week’s issue of the magazine. Here it is for readers of this blog:

I am in love with Jackson Brodie. Does this mean that, in a literary homoerotic twist, I am actually in love with Kate Atkinson, his creator? I think it must. Sometimes I think I am Jackson Brodie. We share many traits: 50-odd, mid-life crisis, a lost (though in my case not murdered) sister. I know that it’s really Kate Atkinson who is Jackson Brodie. She must have a lost or murdered sister, mustn’t she?  

I came upon the Brodie novels (Black Swan, £7.99 each) quite by chance, through a Waterstone’s deal. When Will There Be Good News? caused me wonder and confusion in equal measure. I didn’t realise it was the third in a series: I read it first, the second next, and the first last. So I didn’t know that Julia, Jackson’s (now ex) girlfriend, also has a lost and murdered sister whom Jackson had found in the first book, Case Histories. I’m not wholly convinced by Jason Isaacs as the brooding, heroic Brodie, but he’s growing on me. Love does that.

The BBC series is also having a disconcerting effect on me: the opening action has moved from Cambridge to Edinburgh in a heroic attempt to condense several books, among other plot tweaks. But it’s a small price to pay, and I am grateful for the scraps that help (a tiny bit) to plug the enormous hole where the fifth book should be.

Come along Ms Atkinson. I need the fifth book, I don’t have all day! And I promise to read slowly, savour each word, and not complain too bitterly when the last page is inevitably turned.

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