I’ve actually not read any books in Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series. Which was a little worrying cos I hate entering series part-way through… and I’ve moaned about that before, so won’t go into it again. Thankfully it wasn’t an issue here as I was able to play along at home without having missed too much context.
by Kate Atkinson
Series: Jackson Brodie #5
Published by Doubleday
on June 18th 2019
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Crime Fiction
Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son and an ageing 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 someone from his past.
I’m not usually a fan of mystery novels / crime fiction which feature conspiracies, nefarious networks or underhanded gangsters. Or similar. I tend to prefer personal motives or psychopaths with an axe to grind etc. (Albeit not literally cos ugh, gross!)
This perhaps reflects that a little but humanises it more through the introduction of several key players – in addition to Jackson obviously.
We meet Vince – key suspect in this outing – as he’s golfing with friends. He calls them ‘golf friends’ and I’m sure many will relate to (and chuckle over) his process for defining his friends. He was introduced by a ‘school friend’ who feels indebted to Vince for saving his life. His school buddy and his wealthy friends are a different class to Vince but they’ve mostly accepted him into their fold. Albeit, the golfing friendship circle.
Vince’s wife has only recently thrown him out of his house so he probably could have done with a ‘friend friend’ at the moment. Happily though he crosses paths with Jackson. Literally.
The fact we meet the wife of one of Vince’s golf friends, makes it clear this story is somehow going to involve them, though we don’t quite know how for some time. Other than knowing Vince, their link with the initial murder victim seems tenuous.
I liked the characters Atkinson offers up here, including our two police officers, Ronnie and Reggie (which made me chuckle each time their names were combined!). I’m assuming readers have met one or both before as Reggie often references – what I assume to be – another regular ‘cast’ member (a doctor who’s moved to New Zealand).
Atkinson attaches a number of subplots to a larger one here. Festering in the background is a high profile case involving pedophiles, now incarcerated but possibly with linkages to a current network. And of course we’re left to wonder how that connects to the trafficking of women AND the murder for which Vince is a suspect.
And then there’s Jackson and his relationship with his ex-wife and his teenaged son Nathan, who he’s still trying to get to know.
The characters were certainly the strength of this novel. Atkinson introduces quite a few and puts us in the head of a number yet somehow manages to develop them all so we’re engaged and invested in them all.
I’m conscious we wouldn’t encounter all of these characters in future (or past) Jackson Brodie novels by Atkinson but I certainly enjoyed meeting enough of these to want to go back for more.
Big Sky by Kate Atkinson will be published in Australia by Penguin Random House and available from 18 June 2019.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.