The Unicorn in the Room
Chaos and coincidence; this is the essence of “Big Sky” in which my favourite detective, Jackson Brodie, returns. Now living in a quiet coastal area in Yorkshire, his working life is mainly following errant husbands while he intermittently takes care of the teenage son he shares with Julia. This would be a difficult book to read if you are not already a follower of the Case Studies series even though Kate Atkinson fills in the back stories of several familiar characters, but for an aficionado, it is a delight.
The plot switches from one new context to another; two Polish girls eager to travel to London, Jackson, his son and his dog watching the re-enactment of the Battle of the River Plate on a boating pond, a group of unattractive men on the golf course and seedy, old entertainers backstage at a summer seaside show. It is difficult for the reader to keep all the threads in mind or to guess the connections. But for me the best qualities of this book are brilliant characterisation and Atkinson’s witty, dry humour. My favourite characters are Crystal, sparkling wife of the unpleasant Tommy Holroyd, and her thoughtful stepson, Harry. Crystal has hidden depths and her courage in escaping from an horrific early life is impressive. Now bringing up Candace in sugar and spice, she is determined to save her daughter from the abuse she suffered. Her intellectual stepson, Harry, respects Crystal for her kindness and they are mutually protective.
Most of these strands relate to a re-investigation of an old case about child abuse, but contemporary events prove even more harrowing. After the first few chapters the novel becomes a thrilling tale in Kate’s expressive, thought-provoking prose. There are quotes from popular music interspersed among Jackson’s thoughts, observations about family relationships and essential comments hidden in parentheses. And the chapter headings are priceless!
This is not the best Jackson Brodie book, as at times it seems to wallow and the structure seems to lose its way towards the end but I still thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Jackson, his friends and his enemies and really hope that he will be back again soon.
4 thoughts on “Big Sky (Jackson Brodie #5) by Kate Atkinson #TuesdayBookBlog”
I’ve been wondering what you thought of this one. I really enjoyed it because I love Jackson Brodie and because Kate Atkinson can make me laugh out loud with some of her asides. Like you, I don’t think it’s the best one she’s written but that won’t stop me buying the next one as soon as it appears.
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Yes, that’s exactly what I feel.
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I had never read Jackson Brodie before and I absolutely loved this, I had no problem finding my bearings and now I know what I’ve been missing I will hurry to catch up!
That’s really interesting, David. I’m so glad it made you a fan. I was blown away by Case Histories years ago & went on to read every book written by Kare Atkinson, even those not including Jackson Brodie.