Iconoclastic detective Jackson Brodie returns in a triumphant new novel about secrets, sex, and lies Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son and an aging Labrador, both at the discretion of his ex-partner Julia. 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 chance encounter with a desperate man on a crumbling cliff leads him into a sinister network-and back across the path of his old friend Reggie. Old secrets and new lies intersect in this breathtaking novel by one of the most dazzling and surprising writers at work today.
Kate Atkinson's first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, was named England's Whitbread Book of the Year in 1996. Since then, she has written ten more ground-breaking, bestselling books, most recently Transcription. She lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Big Sky 4.5 out of 5based on
24 days ago
“Jackson knew something was dodgy about Barclay Jack, but couldn’t get the knowledge to rise up from the seabed of his memory – a dismal place that was littered with the rusting wreckage and detritus of his brain cells.”
Big Sky is the fifth book in the popular Jackson Brodie series by British author, Kate Atkinson. Running Brodie Investigations from a virtual office has allowed Jackson to rent a cottage in East Yorkshire, near enough to Julia’s filming location for him to spend time with their thirteen-year-old son, Nathan, during his school vacation. And hopefully to instill some knowledge, manners and self-discipline. But on an outing, they witness what appears to be the abduction of a young teen. A find on the beach the following morning cements Jackson’s conviction of foul play, but the local police are uninterested.
But Jackson is already occupied with the usual cases involving adulterous spouses, as well as a bit of entrapment and an interesting exercise in reverse online grooming. And then a trophy wife engages him to find out who is having her followed. Crystal Holroyd doesn’t believe it’s her husband, but isn’t about to share another possible source (her murky past) with Jackson. Soon, the turns in this case are enough to distract him from a missing teen.
Meanwhile, DC Reggie Chase and her associate, DC Ronnie Dibicki have been assigned to review a paedophile case from the eighties involving two local men. With the surviving offender due for early release, Chase and Dibicki are re-examining the files and questioning probable witnesses and associates regarding the possible participation of a third man.
Atkinson’s plot topical and interesting, featuring human trafficking, paedophiles, sex slavery and kidnapping, and has plenty of turns to keep the reader engrossed. As well as saving several lives, Jackson uses the lyrics of country songs as counselling aid, and to disarm a gunman using TV cop show dialogue, before helping a pregnant prospective bride to leave her groom at the altar.
But Atkinson’s strength is her characters and some of their inner monologues are an absolute joy, filled with dry British (and often very black) humour and understatement. Jackson’s narrative is peppered with Julia’s (previously delivered or else anticipated, but inevitably critical) comments.
There is humour, too, in certain situations and the snappy dialogue, with its tangents and asides, including several laugh-out-loud moments. Atkinson manages to include a bunch of terrible cheese jokes, pun-based names for drag queens, and some truly awful off-colour cabaret-type jokes, as well as ferociously-protective mother with martial arts skills, and Primark scarf that is instrumental in two deaths.
Once again, Atkinson carefully builds up her characters until the reader is invested in them and really cares about their fate. Of those characters, Vince initially seems a bit of a sad loser, but which way will he jump when push comes to shove? Crystal and Harry, though, are undeniable gold, and the team of Reggie and Ronnie are pure delight. Fans of the series will remember Reggie Chase from When Will There Be Good News.
Atkinson has a wonderful way with words and some of her passages are superbly evocative and vividly descriptive. While it is not essential to have read the earlier books of this series, this book does contain spoilers for earlier books, so it doesn’t hurt to read them in order. As usual, Atkinson provides a brilliant read and fan
5 days ago
5 days ago
What a treat to have Jackson Bodie back again. As usual, Kate tells a fascinating, many-faceted story. Love her work and the great way she writes. She covers some tough topics here and did it so well. Kudos! Thanks to #NetGalley for this book.
7 days ago
Kate Atkinson is the complete package - engrossing storylines and fully formed characters. She is one of my favorite authors. It’s been ages since she wrote a Jackson Brodie book. I was worried about the gap in time, but no worries. I immediately felt a connection with him all over again. How could I not with comments like this “ he couldn’t get the knowledge to rise up from the seabed of his memory - a dismal place with the rusting wreckage and detritus of his brain cells.” He’s dealing with his cynical, hormonal son, who wants nothing to do with him, an aging Labrador with “rusty hips” and his private investigations business which is mostly tracking wandering spouses. Oh, and his ex-partner’s voice rings in his head whenever his thoughts go on a wander.
Not only did I love Jackson, but also Harry, the teenage stepson of the woman that becomes Jackson’s client. Once again, the dry humor shines through and I found myself sometimes chuckling out loud.
The book moves along at a good clip. It reminded me of Harlan Coben in some ways, especially the humor. Although Atkinson’s characters tend to be more fully formed than Coben’s. And there are lots of characters here, so be prepared to pay attention to who is whom. It takes awhile for it to become sorted as to how they will all come together. “A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen.”
As with all of Atkinson’s books, time is a variable. It’s subtle here, but when a chapter changes from one character to another, you go back in time to get their perspective on events you just witnessed.
It’s not often I award five stars to a mystery. Too often, something is lacking or the story is just too unbelievable. Not here. The writing is just spot on. I found myself highlighting phrases, not because they were important to the plot, but just because I loved the turn of phrase. And any mystery that not only tells a good story but has me consistently laughing deserves five stars.
My thanks to netgalley and Little, Brown & Company for an advance copy of this book.
11 days ago
Big Sky, by Kate Atkinson, is the fifth entry in the Jackson Brodie series. Jackson Brodie is individualist ex-cop, now working as a private investigator in a “quiet” seaside village. Jackson is the quintessential anti-hero. He does not play by the rules. He follows his own moral code. He loves his children but is seemingly unable to sustain a relationship. He is the man you want to meet, and the man you want far, far away from your daughter.
Atkinson is a masterful writer. She can make you laugh out loud while she leads the reader down dark roads of unspeakable evil. She is painstakingly careful to set the stage and introduce her characters before advancing the plot. It is best to let Atkinson hold the reins. Trust me…every character has a part to play and all the loose ends will come together.
My only regret is that the story was so populated that it minimized the space allotted to Jackson’s point of view. I am looking forward to the next entry in the series. Many thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for the opportunity to read an electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review.
11 days ago
If you are a fan of Kate Atkinson’s character Jackson Brodie and you like the author’s non-linear style, you will enjoy her latest novel. Filled with complex characters— some familiar and some new, their supposedly free association internal dialogues fill the pages as their stories emerge until the storylines intersect.
Atkinson hooks the reader with an intriguing mystery that keeps you reading (even through the abundant parenthesis in which the characters have thoughts about their thoughts. Overall, the book was satisfying as there were a couple of characters I found particularly compelling and engaging, including the Amazonian Crystal and her stepson Harry, but it is not my favorite Jackson Brodie book, as I would have liked more action from Jackson Brodie.
14 days ago
I am a third into the book and I can already tell I will struggle to finish it. I am dissapointed that this Jackson Brodie book , which I have waited for so much, did not deliver.
16 days ago
This was my first Kate Atkinson novel, and I was NOT disappointed. I've had the first Jackson Brodie novel, Case Histories, on my list forever (which just moved to the front of that list), but hadn't read it, yet. I was worried about jumping into the middle of an established series, but that ended up being no problem at all. Big Sky was so masterfully crafted that I was sucked in from the very beginning. The novel is fast-paced and action packed, which kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The characters are so well developed, it was easy to feel a part of their world very quickly. My favorite, by far, was Crystal Holroyd. She's so fierce and vulnerable at the same time. I love finding a new series to binge read, and this one will be my summer project!
Thank you to Little, Brown and Company and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book given in exchange for an honest review.
19 days ago
Writing: 4/5 Plot: 3/5 Characters: 4/5
An unusual crime drama — Atkinson’s fifth about Jackson Brodie, former policeman and soldier turned Private Investigator in Yorkshire. Brodie has your typical gruff exterior, and his personal life is in a perpetual, confusing, shambles, but he is a self-appointed White Knight. He has an eye for the predators in the world (and his world is full of them), and he feels a responsibility to potential victims everywhere. He will not rest — paid or not — until he is sure that everyone is safe.
The story is dark — as are all of Atkinson’s stories. This one revolves around human trafficking in myriad forms. The style is interesting — while Jackson is a familiar (to us) character, he is not the center of a single investigation. Instead, he is a player in a tangled web that includes various past and present strands of a set of ongoing and horrific crimes that eventually come together and are resolved (in a very satisfying way). While not in any sense a cozy, neither is it a nail-biter (important to me as I don’t like to purposely stress myself). The writing style is interesting. It appears muddy — with constant tangents and sardonic asides — but really is just a true-to-life depiction of the way people think. Each chapter is told from a different character’s perspective (all third person omniscient) so we are treated to an inside, tangled, look at what they are thinking, obsessing over, worrying about, hoping for, leering at, and feeling guilty about, simultaneous with what is actually happening in the scene. We get real insight to so many of the characters in this fashion. Oddly enough, my favorite character is Crystal, the clean eating, “trophy wife” of a husband she really doesn’t know that well, with a hefty (secret) past of her own.
Lots of plot lines that tie together (perhaps a little too neatly) at the end. What appears chaotic and confusing at the beginning comes together in just the way it would if you were dropped in to the story with an apparently small job on the periphery (as Jackson himself was). It did feel like the rapid closure of the many wiggling parts was a tad too hasty. This was an early access copy so perhaps that will be evened out before publication.
21 days ago
Jackson Brodie is back in all his cynical glory! It's been a while since Brodie last made an appearance and he's a little older, but essentially the same. In some ways, this felt like his swan song, with appearances from characters from his past (as an aside, you may want to re-read the previous books before picking this up to refresh your memory on his earlier cases), but if it is, it is a satisfying conclusion.
22 days ago
Sorry, special books deserve special stars. The author is Kate Atkinson -automatic five stars, the protagonist is Jackson Brodie - automatic five stars. And that’s all before I read the first word . After I read the last word it’s an automatic trillion stars and that’s not one more than this novel deserves. Praying for selective amnesia so I read it again.
23 days ago
I know I have read the rest of this series but I realized as soon as I started this one that I don't remember much about it. This starts off just dumping characters and backstory, sometimes oversold backstories, on the reader. I found I was being introduced to so many characters that I couldn't be bothered to care. Some you never did need to care about.
I thought I remembered liking these stories and this character. It tool me a long time to remember why. There are too many coincidences, too many things sitting neatly together when all is said and done. It's nice to wrap up most things, not all things, but it needs to not go from 1,000,000 stories to 10 quite so quickly. And, as one character points out, Jackson Brodie doesn't always do much. He is just there for most of it. I honestly can't remember if the other stories were like this too. I don't know if I care enough to reread.
In the end, I went up to three stars for the awareness of a few of the characters and for the overall theme of the book. It almost went back down for the fact that most male characters only related to the female characters nd their plight as it related to them. "What if it were MY daughter?" kind of thing. How about, just for fun, think of them as humans who don't deserve to be abused and sold like property? I guess we aren't there yet.
23 days ago
Big Sky by Kate Atkinson is the very highly recommended fifth book in the Jackson Brodie series. It is good to see him back, working as a private investigator in a seaside village.
Coincidences are the key to a great return of Jackson Brodie. As with the last Brodie novel (Started Early, Took My Dog, 2011) there is a large cast of characters and a whole lot going on that has little to do with Brodie - until it does. Brodie is part time father to his son, Nathan, and caring for his aging lab while on a case documenting the actions of a cheating spouse when he gets tangled up in a cold case involving human trafficking and the sexual abuse of children that isn't so cold after all. DC Reggie Chase returns, working with DC Ronnie Dibicki
There are complete stories and background information involving all of the characters that eventually all intertwine into a complicated plot. There are some great characters here, some villains, but others that are simply unknowingly entangled in the mystery. Harry is a great character, and it will surprise you how much you will like Crystal. Atkinson slowly introduces her characters, develops them, and then allows them to interact and connects all the pieces of the mystery together.
This is an exceptional, well-written mystery with multiple storylines, complicated well-developed characters and an intricate plot. In some ways I think it is better to read Big Sky with little background information and just experience it for yourself. At first you may not know how all these random people and stories are all connected, but as more information is disclosed and characters begin to interact, it will begin to become more apparent and the action and pace of the novel will escalate.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Little Brown and Company
23 days ago
I really enjoyed this fifth book in the Jackson Brodie series - and I am even more glad that I re-read all of the preceding volumes, because it's been almost nine years since the last time I read them! After reading them consecutively, though, I would almost say that if you are looking to refresh your memory, you can probably just read When Will There Be Good News (the third book) and then this latest, as this one feels more like a follow-up to that, then a continuation of Started Early, Took My Dog (in fact, that book's unanswered questions are not addressed here). I was surprised that this one takes place in 2019 - the character's ages are all adjusted accordingly (and there is even mentions of Brexit), so this addition to the series feels quite up-to-date! It's a satisfying addition to the series. The plot ties together nicely and it has more of the lightness and humor found in the earlier installments of the series.
I had a very hard time putting this one down! I practically read it in one sitting. It's fast-paced and I love Atkinson's characters - both the returning series characters and the newly introduced ones. The plot isn't as twisty or as shocking here, (and of course there are still a few things left hanging) but I thoroughly enjoyed it! I most sincerely hope, too, that the wait isn't as long for a sixth addition to the series!
23 days ago
I enjoy Kate Atkinson's ability to develop a character and use the English language. This book is the fifth in her Jackson Brodie series, and Big Sky is on par with the other four books in the collection. The book has good pacing and the mystery will keep the reader engaged throughout.
I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
24 days ago
I'm sorry to say this is my first exposure to Atkinson; where I have I been?? I recognize all the titles but I just haven't read one until now. I know this should be a stand-alone novel and it is, but I feel a little like I walked into a fancy dinner party with many guests who all knew each other and I was on the outskirts the entire time. Clearly not the author's fault! There were just so many characters that I had to make a list to keep all the relationships straight; that takes a little enjoyment away from just immersing myself in the book. Still it was a fascinating look at Jackson Brodie, a flawed but strong character. Murder, sex trafficking, adultery, families, relationships...this book has it all and clearly Atkinson is a brilliant writer! So I'll go back to the first and read in order. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 as it's my reading habits that are at fault here.
Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!
24 days ago
How would Dashiell Hammett’s books read if he had been British instead of American? They would have read much like Kate Atkinson’s newest novel, Big Sky. The book delights and entertains with its clean, unique prose, unrestrained eloquence, and remarkably haunted characters. Noir days are back, thanks to Kate Atkinson, and they are better than ever. (the full review can be found at theresapulyer.blog) Thank you to Little, Brown, and Co. and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this novel in advance with the promise of an honest review.