Yet another Kate Atkinson book! She’s kind of become my go-to for entertaining, well-crafted mysteries. Sometimes I just need a fast, easy read as a palate cleanser when I’m reading a couple of harder books, and hers always do the trick.
This is the second book in the Jackson Brodie series (I’ve previously reviewed #1, Case Histories, and #4, Started Early, Took Your Dog). I liked this one less than the first one but much more than the fourth. As with all of the books in this series, Atkinson takes on several different plotlines that appear to have no connection to another and weaves them together to form a complex, compelling mystery. Brodie once again finds himself at the center of a web of crime after witnessing a road rage incident turn violent in Edinburgh, where he is staying with his girlfriend, Julia. This seemingly random event sets off a chain of events that involves the discontented wife of a real estate tycoon, the timid author of best-selling crime novels, and a tough single-mother policewoman.
As always, it’s difficult to discuss a mystery without giving much away, but I can say that this was a pretty satisfying book, all things considered. Brodie is, again, a great anti-hero–he’s flawed and interesting and it’s easy to root for him. Atkinson does a very good job of balancing Brodie’s personal life with the mysteries surrounding him, and the moments during which she discusses what’s going on with him and his inner feelings serve as strong moments of respite from the otherwise tense narrative. I liked how the mysteries in this book were much more interconnected than they were in other books in the series, and this installment was much more cohesive (and believable) than any of the others. It is, however, a bit less gripping than at least the first book in the series, but not so much so that it loses its entertainment value.
I’m going to keep this short and sweet and just say that if you like well-written crime fiction, Atkinson is one of the best in the genre. I also would recommend reading these books in order, as it definitely helps to understand some of Brodie’s background (although if you don’t–I read #4 first–it’s not a huge issue).