A brilliant new literary crime novel from number one bestseller Kate Atkinson: Jackson Brodie makes a highly anticipated return.
In 2004, Kate Atkinson wrote the first Jackson Brodie novel, Case Histories. Stephen King called it, “The best mystery of the decade”. Three in the series followed with the last one published in 2010. Since then, Atkinson has concentrated on a number of novels set during the war, including Life After Life, A God in Ruins and Transcription. Now, nearly a decade since her last Brodie book, this wonderful character returns in Big Sky.
Here’s where I must admit to something – I’d never read a Jackson Brodie mystery prior to this. I’m not sure how this happened and, after reading Big Sky, this error will be rectified immediately with me playing catchup. However, you don’t need to be familiar with the series to read Big Sky. It reads as a stand-alone.
In Big Sky, former soldier and policeman, turned private investigator, Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village, so he can spend time with his son. It’s picturesque, but there’s something darker lurking behind the scenes.
Jackson’s current job, gathering proof of an unfaithful husband for his suspicious wife, is fairly standard-issue, but a series of events leads him into the much darker territory of human trafficking.
There are many characters introduced early in the book, each with their own storyline that eventually weaves together to a masterful conclusion. Atkinson’s writing is taut, polished, often funny, often heartbreaking, always excellent. There are apparently appearances from characters that featured in earlier novels. Other richly drawn characters include Bunny an ageing drag queen, and Crystal, a client.
I personally loved Brodie’s surly son Nathan and had numerous laugh-out-loud moments reading his chapters. “Living with Nathan was like living inside an argument.” Every minor character has colour and life, starting with the opening pages, and two Russian sisters hired via Skype to work in an English hotel, completely unaware they’ve been dangerously conned.
This is an excellent novel, timely with the #metoo movement. It’s about exploitation, the abuse of vulnerable women and greed. About men failing, women rising, and family. Atkinson is a master weaver of plot, deliverer of dialogue and memorable characters. It’s clear why Jackson Brodie is so well loved. Old fans will be truly thrilled with this fifth instalment in the series, while new fans will be buying the backlist.
An intelligent and utterly compelling read.
Kate Atkinson is one of the world’s foremost novelists. She won the Costa (formerly the Whitbread) Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. She has written four previous bestselling novels featuring former detective Jackson Brodie, Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News? and Started Early, Took My Dog, which became a BBC television series starring Jason Isaacs. She has since written three critically lauded and prizewinning novels set around World War II: Life After Life, A God in Ruins (both winners of the Costa Novel Award), and, most recently, Transcription. Big Sky is her twelfth book.