There is no stray anything in
Big Sky. That's one big reason Atkinson's devotees love her. No detail is too small to come home to roost; as with Tana French, with whom she is justly compared for writing mayhem-centric books that should not be regarded as genre fiction, it's worth rereading the beginning once you've finished this novel just to see how well the author has manipulated you. Atkinson is also adept at weaving the mundane details of her characters' lives (or perhaps her own) into the Brodie books as a way of humanizing them, despite the stark malevolence that lurks beneath this workaday surface…Atkinson tells a great story, toys with expectations, deceives by omission, blows smoke and also writes like she's your favorite friend. Thank goodness the long Jackson Brodie hiatus is over.
The New York Times - Janet Maslin
Atkinson’s slow-moving fifth Jackson Brodie novel (after 2010’s
Started Early, Took My Dog) finds the former policeman turned PI, who’s now based on the east coast of Yorkshire, grappling with parenting. Brodie, who endured a traumatic childhood—a mother lost to cancer, a sister murdered, and a brother who committed suicide—shares custody of 13-year-old Nathan Land, who has an “ego big enough to swallow planets whole,” with Nathan’s mother, Julia. Though Brodie has some routine work surveilling a suspected cheating spouse, the action only hits high gear relatively late when he happens upon a man about to jump off a cliff, Vince Ives, whose wife, Wendy, was recently fatally bludgeoned with a golf club. Brodie manages to save Vince’s life, and his look into Wendy’s death involves him in an ugly case of human trafficking. Atkinson has been better at balancing personal and professional story lines, and the presence of a figure from Jackson’s past, now a cop involved in an inquiry looking at establishment figures, won’t resonate for first-timers. Series fans will best appreciate this outing. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, Inkwell Management. (June)
One of Vanity Fair's Best Books of the Year - "Atkinson opens "Big Sky" with one perfect page. It's a bit of a red herring, but it couldn't do a better job of throwing the reader off base and commanding instant interest. It's a short chapter called "Eloping," and if you have a way of looking at it, do. It's a prime example of how Atkinson tells a great story, toys with expectations, deceives by omission, blows smoke and also writes like she's your favorite friend. Thank goodness the long Jackson Brodie hiatus is over." Janet Maslin, New York Times "The novel is brimming with the wit and let-justice-triumph tenacity that led the series to print bestsellerdom and a popular BBC-TV series... There isn't a character here - major or minor - who doesn't sashay resplendently off the page. With Atkinson it's Raymond Chandler meets Jane Austen, and amazingly she makes it all work." The Washington Post's Best Summer Thrillers "The bestselling British writer returns to Brodie's world for a fifth time in Big Sky, which finds the hero ensconced in a quaint northern English seaside town, making a living as a private investigator. As is often the case in Atkinson's genre-defying fiction, assignments to track lost cats and unfaithful husbands are never quite what they seem." TIME, 32 Books You Need to Read this Summer "The plot of Big Sky is something of a ramshackle affair, but it hardly matters. Kate Atkinson is a wayward writer, her books are, in the end, uncategorizable. Her Jackson Brodie novels are both more than crime novels - and less. They are sui generis and they, like this one, are enormously enjoyable." Katherine A. Powers, Newsday "The handsome investigator that Kate Atkinson introduced in 2004's Case Histories, played by Jason Isaacs on the BBC series, hasn't appeared in a new book since 2011. If you haven't met him yet, this is a fine place to start... Atkinson is so skilled at getting inside people's heads that when she introduces a new character, it's almost impossible to not feel at least a little sympathy for the person... The gangbuster ending flings a pile of spinning plates in the air. They could be picked up in a swath of new directions, including Jackson or not. But I hope he comes back. He's still the empathetic, flawed, country-music-listening detective we first fell for." Carolyn Kellogg, The Washington Post "The great Atkinson has returned to crime fiction and her well-beloved detective, Jackson Brodie...Atkinson masterfully juggles Brodie's consciousness with that of numerous other characters...You flit in and out of their various viewpoints, but Brodie's - warmhearted, weary, haunted by loss - always feels like coming home... I read this book in a delicious late-night rush; I suspect many of you will too." Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times "Atkinson's funny, poignant gem will make you forgive the wait" People Magazine "Kate Atkinson is one of those very rare writers who's a master at absolutely every aspect of the novel-character and plot and voice and language and themes and humor and dialogue and on and on. I love everything about BIG SKY, a giant mosaic of people and stories that fit perfectly together in a complex, beautiful pattern, offering tremendous reading pleasure on every single page." Chris Pavone, bestselling author of The Expats "As always in a Kate Atkinson book... the pleasures derive from her mastery as a storyteller, her skillful character development and the beauty of her quirky and poetic prose." Associated Press "'A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen' is one of Jackson's maxims; it could also serve as an ironic epigram for Atkinson's approach to the mystery genre. A small cast of characters collides and careens in a manner that straddles Greek tragedy and screwball comedy. The humor is sly rather than slapstick, and Atkinson is keenly interested in inner lives and motivations...The deaths and disappearances that Jackson investigates change with every book, but the human heart remains the central mystery. The welcome return of an existential detective. " Kirkus, starred review "We marvel at Atkinson's rare ability to create in a relatively few but stunningly deft brushstrokes at least a half-dozen characters with the depth and complexity to own their own novel. Another dazzler from a writer whose talents know no bounds." Booklist, starred review "Atkinson is one of the best writers working today, and her crime fiction, including novels featuring the now-retired Scottish inspector Jackson Brodie, rank among the finest. What takes Big Sky up a notch is its urgent, relevant subject matter: pedophilia rings and how they damage survivors for the rest of their lives." Bethanne Patrick, The Washington Post "I simply did not realize how much I missed Jackson Brodie. Turning the pages of Big Sky felt like spending time with a good friend you haven't seen for a long time." Chicago Tribune "Raymond Chandler once wrote that the best mysteries are those you'd read even if the last chapter were torn out - because the writing and the characters are so compelling. Big Sky is one of those." Tampa Bay Times "As in the other Brodie novels, several stories are woven into a seamless plot, with the help of credible-seeming twists of fate. And there is just enough unfinished business to leave readers impatient for his next outing." The Economist " Big Sky is full of raucous scenes, laugh-out-loud moments and dark humor." St. Louis Post Dispatch "Brodie is back, with panache." Shelf Awareness
After nine years, Atkinson is giving Jackson Brodie of
Started Early, Took My Dog more to do. No details yet on Brodie's new case, but the setting is still Yorkshire, and rumor has it that we'll get more information on Brodie's tangled personal life.
Jackson Brodie is back.
This is Atkinson's fifth Jackson Brodie novel (
Started Early, Took My Dog, 2011, etc.), but fans know that the phrase "Jackson Brodie novel" is somewhat deceptive. Yes, he is the hero in that he is a private investigator—former cop, military veteran—who solves (usually) mysteries. But he is not so much the central character as the grumpy, anxious, largehearted gravitational field that attracts a motley assortment of lost souls and love interests. In this latest outing, Jackson is a half-duty parent to his teenage son while the boy's mother, an actor, finishes her run on a detective series. Vince Ives is a more-or-less successful middle-class husband and father until his wife leaves him, his boss makes him redundant, and he becomes a murder suspect. Crystal Holroyd—not her real name—has built a brilliant new life for herself, but someone from her past is threatening her daughter. Both Vince and Crystal seek help from Jackson, with varying results. Meanwhile, Jackson's protégée, Reggie Chase, has risen through the ranks in the police force and is taking a fresh look at an old case. That these stories intertwine is a given. "A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen" is one of Jackson's maxims; it could also serve as an ironic epigram for Atkinson's approach to the mystery genre. A small cast of characters collides and careens in a manner that straddles Greek tragedy and screwball comedy. The humor is sly rather than slapstick, and Atkinson is keenly interested in inner lives and motivations. There are villains, certainly—human trafficking and the sexual abuse of children figure prominently here—but even the sympathetic characters are complicated and compromised. Jackson has a strong moral code, but his behavior is often less than ethical. The same is true of Vince, Crystal, and Reggie. The deaths and disappearances that Jackson investigates change with every book, but the human heart remains the central mystery.
The welcome return of an existential detective.