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Big Sky, by Kate Atkinson

Big Sky - Kate Atkinson.jpg

Review by Kris Williams

Big Sky is the fifth book in the popular Jackson Brodie series. I confess I have not read any of the previous books but felt that there was no need to be able follow the story.  Jackson Brodie is ex-military police and ex-Cambridge cop who is currently working as a private investigator.  He has moved to a coastal town to be closer to his teenage son Nathan and his ex-dog.

Atkinson introduces us to her characters and takes time to give them a background and build them up so we get to know them and, in some cases, care for them.  First, we meet Katja and Nadja who are being interviewed online for jobs in a well-known hotel in London.

Tommy Holroyd, owner of a haulage company, and Andrew Bragg, travel agent and B&B owner have been best friends since school.  Vincent Ives, a telecom equipment manager, plays golf with them at the Belvedere Golf Club occasionally being joined for a drink by lawyer Steve Mellors who handled Vince’s divorce. 

We also meet DC Reggie Chase, an old friend of Brodies, and her associate DC Ronnie Dibicki.  They are taking a look at an old paedophile case involving two local men who were jailed for their crimes. One passed away and the other is due to be released from jail.  Chase and Dibicki are re-examining the old files and questioning anyone associated with the case looking for a possible third man who was never caught at the time.

Brodie is bored.  His work as a private investigator is mostly cheating husbands and wives, monitoring internet trolls, and looking for the odd stolen item. Boredom aside, he is enjoying the chance to spend time with his hormonal teenage son Nathan even if he is always looking at his phone or playing games and his old Labrador with ‘rusty hips’.    

As they head home after a day out, Brodie’s police instincts kick in when he thinks he sees a young girl being pulled into an ice-cream van.  Later that evening as he is out on for a run he encounters a man ready to jump of a cliff.

Before he can get his thoughts in order, “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”, Brodie is hired by Crystal to find out who is following her.  Crystal Holroyd is the wife of Tommy Holroyd of Holroyd’s Haulage, mother to Candy, stepmother to Harry, and someone who has survived a terrible childhood to have everything she could possible want.

What follows as Atkinson pulls the threads together is a story of a run-away bride, kidnapping, paedophilia, murder, sex trafficking and slavery, secrets and lies.

Big Sky is a story of family, misery, joy, dissapointment and ruined hopes. While the storylines may seem quite heavy there are also moments of real humour and pathos.  I really enjoyed this book and have no hesitation in recommending it.

About The Author

Kate Atkinson, MBE (born 20 December 1951) is an English writer of novels, plays and short stories. She is known for creating the Jackson Brodie series of detective novels, which has been adapted into the BBC series Case Histories.

Publication Details

  • Published: 18 June 2019

  • ISBN: 9780857526113

  • Category: Fiction Crime

  • Imprint: Doubleday

  • Pages: 368