Big Sky by Kate Atkinson
There was a moment in this novel where I suddenly had an image of bowling pins lined up waiting for a great big bowling ball to come hurtling down the lane as the waft of slightly dodgy hot dogs and fried food attacked my nostrils. In Big Sky, Kate Atkinson had beautifully lined up the pins, polishing each of them to a high sheen before bowling a strike sending each of the pins to the seven winds. This may seem a strange metaphor, but please bear with me because I adored this book especially the bowling pin set up.
Big Sky is the 5th book in the Jackson Brodie series written by Kate Atkinson. I had not read any of the previous 4 which did not detract from Big Sky in any way. Kate Atkinson set up the pins very nicely; a set of golfing chums, 2 police officers called Ronnie and Reggie investigating historic child abuse, a trophy wife, a theatre with an ailing comedian, a shy boy and 2 Polish girls dreaming of a life in the UK.
Each of these stories was polished to a high sheen. Links are gently established between these characters. In the middle of this is Jackson Brodie, retired Police Officer doing a bit of private eye work and tugging on various threads. Jackson is great and has the most horrific relationship history ever and a slightly grumpy teenage son. As each thread unravelled, a little bit more of the picture was made clear.
This novel is great! Jackson is a very believable character and the relationship with his son is, at times, very touching. The writing is really funny. Kate Atkinson employs a technique in her writing where an event is written from one perspective, then the next part of the event is written from a different character's perspective overlapping with the previous event. This is a great plot device and adds to the hilarity as more and more bizarre things occur and characters have absolutely no idea what is going on or why people are behaving oddly.
The other aspect of the novel I loved were the characters themselves. The golfing buddies were really quite grotesque, but also pretty clueless! Crystal was marvellous, a trophy wife with a will of iron and a smattering of wing chun martial arts ability.
In the midst of all this hilarity, is a difficult subject matter (historic child abuse and modern slavery), and the starkness of this balanced with the humour made it more engaging and very sobering. I felt I learnt more about this subject and it is terrifying to know this is happening now. Thank you Kate Atkinson for highlighting this topic.
The novel is set very near where I live, and this was an added treat, reading about places I already know.
So, I will be reading more Jackson Brodie novels. These are immensely well written with great characters and are darkly comedic. The pacing is great, I loved the setting up of all the 'pins', the slow unravel and how the paced jumped up about 5 gears as the bowling ball hit. Brilliant!