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Jackson Brodie, ex-military police, ex-Cambridge Constabulary, currently working as a private investigator, makes a highly anticipated return, nine years after the last Brodie, Started Early, Took My Dog.

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.

352 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 18, 2019

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About the author

Kate Atkinson

96 books10.3k followers
Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and she has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since.

She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories, and One Good Turn.

Case Histories introduced her readers to Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, and won the Saltire Book of the Year Award and the Prix Westminster.

When Will There Be Good News? was voted Richard & Judy Book Best Read of the Year. After Case Histories and One Good Turn, it was her third novel to feature the former private detective Jackson Brodie, who makes a welcome return in Started Early, Took My Dog.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,373 reviews
Profile Image for Liz.
2,028 reviews2,537 followers
May 31, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,738 reviews14.1k followers
July 5, 2019
It was nice to see Jackson Brodie back again. In fact, my favorite parts of this book were his quiet musings and his often humorous relationship with his son. Though his role was little more than that of a bit player, leaving me wanting more of his presence.There are though, many characters in this story and multiple threads. Atkinson without any doubt on my part always writes amazingly well. Also she took on some timely issues, such as sex trafficking. She does tie these threads together by books end, but unfortunately she also included something that is a big trigger for me. Something I try to avoid in my fiction, or even non fiction for that matter. Just hard for me to read, so I ended up skimming parts of the second half.

ARC from Netgalley.
Profile Image for JanB .
1,146 reviews2,533 followers
August 8, 2019
The flawed and brooding Jackson Brodie is one of my favorite characters. In Big Sky, Brodie is living and working as a PI in a small seaside village in order to be close to his teenage son. He ekes out a living taking on low level, unchallenging cases. That is, until he is hired by a woman who suspects she is being followed and the case develops into something far more sinister than it first appears.

There are a lot of characters to keep straight, but I trusted the author to bring all the seemingly disparate threads together and she did it masterfully. The writing is excellent with turns of phrases that gave me pause. The themes are timely, and the attention to detail and plotting is unmatched.

Far more than a detective novel, it is the author’s well-developed characters and her insight into human nature and that I love the most. Brodie’s witty asides were delightful.

Recommended for fans of the author who can give this book chunks of time and persevere until the connections are made clear. This isn’t a book that can be read in small bites.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,227 reviews2,057 followers
October 10, 2019
Absolutely perfect! I really enjoyed this new Jackson Brodie book, in fact I reread the previous four books first (loved them too!) just to make sure I would appreciate every bit of Big Sky.

Jackson as usual is just muddling through life as best he can. His P.I. work is mostly mundane, his ex partner, Julia, has moved on, his daughter calls him a Luddite, his son hardly speaks to him at all. Then he gets thrust into drama from all sides as a series of coincidences pile up to involve him above and beyond the law. I loved seeing Reggie come back from earlier in the series and noted there was even a hint of Louise Monroe!

Reading a Kate Atkinsonbook requires concentration and application. Every word needs to be read or you miss things and she always introduces a great number of characters. Luckily most of them are detailed and well rounded so they are easy to recall. Time is also a bit slippery as the author tends to jump around from one character to another and frequently pops back in time to describe events from different points of view.

I always find Atkinson to be an excellent writer. She spins a well thought out mystery at the same time as handling a very serious issue carefully. She produces some delightful characters, Jackson himself of course and, in this book, Harry is a particular stand out. She places her book in an area of England which she clearly knows well. Oh and don't forget the humour. Lots of it of all kinds.

I loved the wedding scenes with Marlee who really is a chip off the old block, although I am sure she would never admit it. And the final page gave me goose bumps. I could absolutely hear Bunny singing that song. So good and so glad I bought a paper copy. I will certainly read it again in the future.
Profile Image for Sandysbookaday is (reluctantly) on hiatus.
1,974 reviews2,041 followers
July 29, 2019
EXCERPT: On a dark street the nondescript grey hatchback slithered quietly to a halt beneath a streetlight that was helpfully broken. The car's engine was killed and the driver, almost as anonymous-looking as the Peugeot itself, climbed out and shut the door with a quiet clunk. The passenger door opened and a girl climbed out. The driver waited on the pavement for her to heave her backpack out of the footwell. The colours of the little rainbows had all turned to grey in the dark and the unicorn had been rendered almost invisible. She closed the car door and heard the little 'chirrup' as the man locked it. He went ahead of her, then turned and smiled and said, 'This way, follow me.' He approached a house, the door key ready in his hand. Darcy hesitated for a moment. Something told her that she should run, but she was only thirteen and hadn't learned to listen to her instincts yet, so she slung her backpack over one shoulder and followed the man into the house.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Jackson Brodie, ex-military police, ex-Cambridge Constabulary, currently working as a private investigator, makes a highly anticipated return, nine years after the last Brodie, Started Early, Took My Dog.

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.

MY THOUGHTS: Jackson Brodie, I love you. I've missed you, and I am so pleased you're back. And by extension, I also love Kate Atkinson, both for her superb writing skills and her devious mind.

'What does justice have to do with the law?' A good question. Not very much in either real life or Big Sky. But as usual, Jackson manages, more by accident than good planning, to mete out justice more effectively than the law.

I love Atkinson's characters, they jump off the page at you, drag you into their world. Tommy, Andy and Steve are all good reminders that not everyone is what they seem, that we only see what they want us to see. Harry reminds me a little of my grandson....he's young for his age but he's old for his age. Marlee, although she would never admit it, is very like her father.

Big Sky is a comedy of errors, or would be if the subject matter wasn't so grim. But even so, Kate and Jackson had me laughing at times.

A wonderful read, and I hope that we don't have to wait anywhere near as long for the next Jackson Brodie book.


I do recommend starting this series at the beginning, otherwise the relationships between some of the characters will be rather perplexing. 😉

THE AUTHOR: Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and she has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since.

She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories, and One Good Turn.

Case Histories introduced her readers to Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, and won the Saltire Book of the Year Award and the Prix Westminster.

When Will There Be Good News? was voted Richard & Judy Book Best Read of the Year. After Case Histories and One Good Turn, it was her third novel to feature the former private detective Jackson Brodie, who makes a welcome return in Started Early, Took My Dog.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Big Sky by Kate Atkinson, published by Transworld, Doubleday. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the 'about' page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system.

This review and others are also published on my webpage https://wordpress.com/post/sandysbook...
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,401 reviews11.7k followers
July 25, 2019
Objectively speaking, as a mystery, Big Sky is not that strong. If written by a different author, a novel with a plot like this would have been a subject of a lengthy rant about too many coincidences and same people constantly bumping into suspects of various crimes.


this is Kate Atkinson, and I am yet to be disappointed or not entertained by her books. Her character work and her wit are impeccable, regardless of what she chooses to write - mysteries, family dramas, Groundhog Day-type experiments, whatever.

Coincidentally, I listened to this novel while observing this piece of shit get arrested again. I hope he gets as much comeuppance as the sex ring monsters in Big Sky.

The best thing about the book was the perspective of a woman who managed to escape the clutches of despicable men just like Jeffrey Epstein. A gold digger with an iron will. My kind of gal.
Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
Want to read
December 11, 2018
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,435 reviews813 followers
February 15, 2021
‘I’m going home.’ Jackson had no idea where Tatiana lived. ‘Home’ sounded far too cosy a word for her. It was easier to imagine her in a forest lair or lying on a tree branch, one eye open even in sleep, ready to swoop on an unsuspecting victim, but no, she was a creature of surprises. ‘Going to have hot chocolate and watch old Marple,’ she said.”

Tatiana is only one of several characters who��ve appeared in previous Case Histories, but even if you didn’t know or (hadn’t remembered) that she was a Russian call-girl with a rather exciting part in One Good Turn, Jackson’s throwaway comment above would let you know how he remembered her.

He is in a seaside town on the east coast, unlike where he grew up, and he’s quite enjoying the change.

“In the part of Yorkshire in which Jackson had been born and bred it had rained every day, all day, since time began, and he had been pleasantly surprised how literally bright and breezy the East Coast could be.”

He’s dividing his time between a case (tracking a philandering husband) and ferrying his thirteen-year-old son, Nathan, and an old dog back and forth to Julia’s, his ex. Atkinson has a wonderful knack of showing Jackson as both a determined, loyal, tough ex-detective and a slightly awkward ex-husband, ex-lover, and father.

His daughter, Marlee (23), is planning to marry a guy Jackson doesn’t like, and Nathan is one of those boys glued to his phone, eye-rolling and bored with the old man. His mother, Julia, is an actress currently filming, so Jackson is taking the opportunity to see something of his son.

His women may have left him in real life, but they are fixed in his mind. He hears them, always ready with a snappy comeback as to why he is ridiculous and hopeless. It’s a clever way for us to see how he weighs things up. But he seems to be moving on – sort of.

“It was bad enough that Julia had long ago taken up occupation in his brain, but to have Tatiana now buzzing around in there as well was an unwelcome development. It gave a whole new meaning to the term ‘inner voice’. At least between them they had managed to eject his first wife, Josie.)”

I’ve neglected the terrific plot, the golfing buddies, their wives, a murder, a dodgy import business, and the investigation being carried out by two tiny, female Detective Constables, Reggie and Ronnie. I remembered Reggie, but again, Atkinson fills in all the blanks so smoothly that it wouldn’t matter if I’d forgotten.

I don’t need to tell any Atkinson readers how many storylines there are and how completely she writes them all. Each could be its own novella – but – they do cross over, in multiple ways. The various characters, some of them couples who are social friends, don’t know as much about each other as we do.

I was especially fond of Crystal, who seems to be a kind of trophy wife for a wealthy businessman and is step-mother to his sixteen-year-old son. He’s Harry, a genuinely nice, smart kid who works at the sleazy Palace Theatre with some colourful old reprobate performers.

I mentioned the murder, but not the stalking, the suspected abduction, the threats, the chickens coming home to roost, as it were. Jackson’s life consists of danger and thrills and saving lives all mixed up with fatherly angst and a longing for something, someone.

I have to say I enjoyed the ending, which, while not leaving him hanging off the edge of a cliff, does leave him thinking about making a move. I hope that means there will be more!
Profile Image for Jen.
427 reviews1 follower
April 8, 2019
Admittedly, it’s difficult for me to write an unbiased review of a Kate Atkinson novel. When I received this book from NetGalley, I immediately tweeted “she is our greatest living author, don’t @ me”, which – I actually wish someone would “@” me, because I’m more than happy to explain all the ways Atkinson is brilliant (almost terrifying so).

My favourite books of Atkinson’s are Life After Life and A God in Ruins (the latter absolutely shattered me – I think I cried enough to fill oceans), but I do so love her Jackson Brodie series for its sly wit and the river of devastation running beneath its surfaces. Big Sky is a worthy entry into the Brodie lexicon, and her best since Case Histories.

A mystery at its core, with thousands of tiny threads that come together to form a very messy, very real tapestry of human misery and joy and rotten, ruined hopes, Big Sky is about the sex trade, about families and the way they disappoint us, about exploitation and greed, and how where men fall, women rise up.

Brodie is hiding out on the coast, working as a private investigator. It’s the usual stuff – cheating husbands, cheating wives, icky individuals on the Internet, and perhaps a stolen item or two or three. He’s clearly bored, but he’s also clearly enjoying the chance to spend more time with his son Nathan – a stroppy, absolutely delightful teenager – their interactions are such comic gold that I laughed out loud numerous times. Big Sky is inarguably hilarious, in that perfectly dry British way –

She was a self-described Christian, born-again or something like that (once was enough, surely?)

That’s the thing about Kate Atkinson – one minute you’re flinching, the next you’re audibly snorting. It’s a roller coaster.

In true Brodie fashion, our erstwhile detective stumbles upon a human trafficking ring in the sleepy little coastal town, and the tension ratchets up and up, until it seems everything will explode, sending bombs across the sea. What’s singularly arresting about the central mystery is that the crimes go back decades and have such miserable arrows running from their centres – you can only imagine how much pain and suffering has been spread. Some bits made my stomach hurt (“the passion wagon”, “parties”, “the two sisters”, “the disappeared, gone where no flashlights could illuminate”), and it’s a testament to Atkinson’s power that the novel isn’t merely depressing – rather, I put it down with a sense of wounds bandaged by glorious retribution.

Don’t mistake me – the subject matter is raw and the kind of subtle that makes you wish for a novelist with less grace (sometimes, the less graphic things are, the more the imagination fills in the horrifying blanks). But still, it’s there – subterranean but mighty – like a sword or axe or queen – the female. The strength. The eyes meeting. Warrior to warrior. Survivor to survivor.

Where men fall, women rise.

With as much power, as much grit, as the big blue sky.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I appreciate it!
Profile Image for Beverly.
807 reviews292 followers
June 12, 2022
The fifth installment of the Jackson Brodie mysteries, Big Sky, did not disappoint. Jackson is older now and not much wiser, but still his endearing self as he takes on an apathetic, teenage son, a self-involved ex-girlfriend, and a series of odd events.

Jackson is a dear soul. He wants to save the children and women of the world from those who seek to harm them. He does a pretty good job of it. Those in peril who come into his orbit are bound to be better off in the end and that's what I love about his character. He's not too particular about following the law strictly, but his heart is always in the right place.
Profile Image for Cathrine ☯️ .
617 reviews338 followers
January 10, 2020
4✚ 🕵️‍♂️🕵️‍♂️🕵️‍♂️🕵️‍♂️
About 9 years ago Jackson Brodie went MIA in the book world. His creator came out with some highly rated other books which I could not embrace; actually abandoned two of them. This remains a mystery because Kate Atkinson is a heck of a writer and I was such a fan, am such a fan.
What was my issue?
No clue.
I think I read this in 24 hours. There's a large cast of characters which I was able to hang with because they were compelling and I read straight through to the 30% mark when they were all set in motion and the pages started turning rapidly.
Of course it always enriches a book in a series if you've read the ones that came before but it's not necessary in able to enjoy this one. She weaves previous characters and events into it and they all came back to me but it would be a great standalone too.
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,769 followers
August 8, 2019
We Jackson Brodie fans have waited what felt like an interminably long spell for our favorite private eye, in all his glib and glum glory, to return to the scene. But author Kate Atkinson has been rather busy in the interim, penning literary gorgeousness into Life After Life, A God in Ruins and Transcription. We'll forgive her.

Our patience is richly rewarded with Big Sky, the fifth entry in the Jackson Brodie series. Although the novel could stand alone, fans of Jackson Brodie will shiver in recognition at the return of Reggie Chase, and nod heads with comforting familiarity at Julia's throwaway affections (and affectations) and Jackson's photographic recall of country and western lyrics.

And just look what's happened in the intervening nine years. Nathan, Julia and Jackson's son who was a toddler when we last laid eyes on him, is now a sulking thirteen-year-old in the reluctant care of his dad while his mum finishes filming her latest television series. Jackson lives on the east coast of Yorkshire, a rural idyll of golf courses and tawdry seaside holiday towns, one church villages, and a sex-trafficking ring that is at the heart of this big-hearted mystery.

The plot of Big Sky is a Venn Diagram of stories that contract until they become one, and Jackson is, of course, at the center of it all. “A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen” is one of Jackson's favorite maxims, borrowed from some long ago episode of Law and Order. Kate Atkinson's astonishing skill is not only to wink and nod at crime fiction tropes, but to render the plot so that coincidence feels utterly inevitable.

The sinister opening to Big Sky sets the dreadful stage of human trafficking, but the lens pulls back and it takes a while before we return to the initial victims, Polish sisters Nadja and Katja, who are lured to the UK with promises of legit jobs in hospitality. We become entangled with a large cast of characters, including the trophy wife of a self-made millionaire, a down-on-his luck middle manager whose cuckolding wife is bludgeoned to death not long after she declares her intention to seek a divorce, two chummy police detectives reopening an investigation into a decades-old paedophile ring, an awkward, bookish young man who walks miles every day to his job in a seedy carnival (is there any other kind?), and of course Jackson. Brodie is not center stage in this play, but he remains the nucleus around which everything hums, appearing at critical moments with a bit of gallows humor and self-deprecating sexiness that make him so irresistible.

Despite the almost screwball comedic tone that is so deliciously Atkinson, there is deep moral core to Big Sky, embodied in Jackson Brodie’s wry antihero, detectives Ronnie and Reggie, and the trophy wife, Crystal, who proves to be as intelligent and cunning as she is kind.

Big Sky has the biggest heart, and Kate Atkinson has given us a genre-defying novel worth waiting for.
Profile Image for Sue.
1,243 reviews534 followers
June 5, 2019
“A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen.”

Remember this sentence as it is important to the entire novel, its course and ultimate denouement.
Kate Atkinson has returned with another Jackson Brodie novel after a gap of several years. Jackson now is living in Yorkshire in a seaside town, working as a private investigator, primarily tailing unfaithful husbands for angry wives. Not exactly a fulfilling life but it pays bills and keeps him near his now teenaged son, Nathan, and the boy’s mother who he still has a thing for (totally unrequited).

While in the middle of his case, he happens into the middle of a couple of others and the coincidences multiply. The story can at times seem cluttered and a tad confusing as more characters are introduced without apparent links. But if you have read Atkinson at all you can trust that she knows where she is going and how she will get there. There is a serious plot involving the abuse of young women and girls developing separate from Jackson and his cheating husband case. But coincidences happen and... “Worlds were colliding all over the place. Jackson thought he might actually have gone mad. Or that he was hallucinating. Or that this was an alternative version of reality. Or all three.” No, not mad. Just involved in too much.

The characters are such winners here, all so well drawn. Almost all are truly multi-dimensional. Humor, pathos, righteous indignation are among so many emotions evoked by this novel. And, as always, the mind of Jackson is front and center, full of musical allusions, self deprecating thoughts and constant comments of the women of his life. The book moves at a quick pace and the story itself occurs over a short period of time. I do wonder what will Jackson be up to next. I will be there. I will read anything Atkinson writes.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Marianne.
3,398 reviews146 followers
May 25, 2019
“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 fans will be pleased to know that the ending leaves open the possibility of more Jackson Brodie.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Penguin Random House Australia
Profile Image for Kasa Cotugno.
2,354 reviews454 followers
July 6, 2019
Six months ago, I attended a lunch honoring Kate Atkinson's publication of Transcription, during which she hinted that there was a Brodie novel in the works. That sly dog -- it was more than "in the works" if this is the final product -- it must have been further along than she teased. It's been a while since she wrapped the Brodie quartet, and she's published three hefty novels in the interim, but as one besotted fan remarked, "We just Love Brodie." Atkinson peered over her glasses and said, "You do realize he's fictional, don't you?"

On reading this novel, Brodie #5, I understand the deeper meaning behind the fan's remark -- it's not just Jackson Brodie, but the universe she creates in his wake. I think Atkinson has more fun with this series than with her other works, which are written with a heavier hand. All the characters and situations are delivered with clarity and wit, despite maybe a few too many coincidences (but they can be forgiven.) Something about Brodie brings out the best in Atkinson, as one character puts it "Finding Jackson Brodie at the heart of this melee seemed par for the course, somehow. He was a friend to anarchy." Not just people, but dogs are given distinct identities, and even a lasagna has a moment. Did I mention I loved this book? Did I have to?
Profile Image for Mª Carmen.
584 reviews
August 15, 2022

Me ha gustado mucho. Había leído varios libros de Kate Atkinson, pero de esta serie solo Expedientes. Ya he tomado nota de los tres que me faltan y que por supuesto leeré.

Lo primero que hay que señalar es que, no se trata de una novela policiaca en el sentido convencional de la palabra. Es verdad que hay detectives, policías, crímenes y delitos varios, pero aún así trasciende a lo que es el género. De hecho tiene mucho de narrativa general con el transfondo de una novela negra.

El ritmo es muy pausado, detallista y lleno de matices. No es este un thriller frenético, aquí los giros fluyen lentamente, de forma natural. Atkinson se toma su tiempo para presentar los hilos de las tramas y sobre todo a los personajes. El cómo los caracteriza, profundiza en la psicología de cada uno y en las relaciones entre ellos, sigue siendo lo que mejor domina la autora.

Me ha dejado sobrecogida la total normalidad de los villanos del libro. Personas en apariencia corrientes, buenos padres e integrados en la comunidad. Una imagen difícil de conciliar con sus otras actividades, si bien no dudo que, en la vida real, también debe ser así.
Tampoco es esta una novela en la que los buenos sean intachables e inmaculados. Son personas con claroscuros, de los que no se ciñen estrictamente a la ley. Atkinson consigue que los miremos, sin juzgar sus motivaciones y las decisiones que toman. De todos los personajes resaltaría a Crystal, una mujer fuerte, protectora de sus hijos y capaz de reinventarse a sí misma las veces que haga falta.

Con respecto a las tramas, desarrolla una principal y varias secundarias. Desde el principio de forma imperceptible va tejiendo la madeja, hasta entrelazar unas piezas con otras. Al final todo, sin excepción, queda cerrado y resuelto.

En definitiva, una novela policiaca distinta que me ha gustado mucho y que no dudo en recomendar.
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,606 reviews2,051 followers
May 29, 2019
It has been years since I read a Jackson Brodie novel and I never expected to read another, so I'd forgotten a bit what it was like. I remembered they were bleak, measured, patient, smart and sure enough that's just how this one was. The tone is what sticks with you in a Brodie novel more than the crime itself. I have forgotten characters who carry over but it doesn't matter all that much because ultimately a Brodie novel is about spending some time letting melancholy mix with dread and just the tiniest touch of optimism.

Hope can be hard to come by in a book where the major crime is human trafficking, a crime so calculated and despicable it's hard to imagine what kind of character would do it. Atkinson has given herself a tall order and acquits herself relatively well, differentiating her baddies from one another and still making them feel like real people. I particularly enjoyed Crystal, who's gone from rags to riches but doesn't realize that her husband's money comes from the very horrors she escaped.

Brodie is a companionable protagonist, agreeable and considered. He is not overly warm or welcoming, but the kind of guy you can enjoy a comfortable silence with. There are a lot of combined threads in this book that overlap and intersect, and I think we may see a little less of Brodie than usual (as I said, it's been a while) but it's always nice when he's back.

I get why not everyone likes these books. They don't give you the quick rhythms we expect from thrillers. (I certainly wouldn't call it a thriller.) I kept thinking I'd read more of it than I had because it seemed like I'd spent so long with it already. But time spent reading a Kate Atkinson novel is always time spent very well.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,333 reviews118 followers
August 29, 2019
The 5th installment in the Jackson Brodie detective series is presented as a huge puzzle. The narrative rambles through a number of memorable character sketches before the pieces of the plot finally start to take shape. As for Jackson, his private detective skills are relegated to following cheating spouses. His sad, complicated life includes a young teenage son, Nathan, who proves to be as uncommunicative as similar young teens his age. Almost by accident, Jackson stumbles upon a human trafficking/pedophile ring. And before long this discovery intersects with the cold case DC Reggie Case is pursuing. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Frosty61 .
853 reviews23 followers
September 25, 2019
Wow, I really don't understand all the enthusiasm for this one. It meanders all over the place, has too many characters, is uneven in tone (humor + human tafficking?), and leaves many unanswered questions at the end.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,341 reviews703 followers
January 21, 2020
I listened to the Audible production of Kate Atkinson’s “Big Sky”, narrated by Jason Isaacs who is absolutely perfect as a narrator choice. I’ve read a few of Atkinson’s novels, but have missed the Jackson Brodie private detective series. This is the fifth in the series, and now I must read the first four because Jackson Brodie is hilarious. Brodie brings out Atkinson’s superb witty prose. It’s not what Jackson says as much as his inner musings.

This is a complicated story, as most of Atkinson’s are. I think I should have read it to get the full impact, although narrator Jason Isaacs is easy and fun to listen to and provides a fabulous voice to the characters. Atkinson introduces an array of characters that at first, I found difficult to keep straight. But then I just let my mind float along with the story, enjoying being read to, and I highly enjoyed listening to her story. That said, if I found a copy of the novel hanging around somewhere, I’d look forward to reading the story.

The story opens with the end, and then starts at one week prior to the end of the story. It was a hell of a week. Two innocent Polish girls are skyping a businessman for work in London in hotel hospitality. And the reader immediately knows this businessman is most likely part of human trafficking. Atkinson drops her first clue to a plot.

Jackson is charged with taking care of his son, thirteen-year-old Nathan, while his X-girl friend and mother of Nathan works in a TV series. Nathan is the typical teen: obsessed with his phone and disgusted with adults. Jackson is hired by the sexy Crystal and he is introduced to the country club crowd that are more than they appear.

It’s a complicated story with moving parts and many characters. Every small detail is important which can be lost while entertained with witty musings and banter.

Atkinson is a favored author of mine and will remain as one. I highly recommend “Big Sky”.
Profile Image for Sheila.
953 reviews85 followers
May 6, 2019
3 stars--I liked the book. Trigger warnings for sexual abuse.

I have an enduring fondness for Jackson Brody (and his parenthetical conversations). The character never fails to charm, and this book is no exception. I also adored Crystal and Harry and Bunny--in fact, the range of side characters in this book was fabulous.

Like all Brody books, the main plot revolves around lost girls--in this case it takes a wide focus, as Brody gets enmeshed in human trafficking and a pedophile ring. As usual for Atkinson, all the loose ends get tied up and resolved. However, it almost seems like Brody was along for the ride in this book--he sort of stumbles into the crimes rather than actively investigating them, and isn't really the one who solves them.

I received this review copy from the publisher on NetGalley. Thanks for the opportunity to read and review; I appreciate it!
Profile Image for Tania.
1,202 reviews271 followers
February 5, 2023
I feel a little bit depressed after finishing Big Sky, the fifth book in the Jackson Brodie series as there's no news yet of another one being published.

There are so many elements that makes this a stand out series - the kaleidoscope of colourful characters, the witty dialogue, the sly humour, and the way the author weaves several stories into a seamless plot. Kate Atkinson's writing is funny and quirky and sharp and sad, and I have the absolute best of times when absorbed in one of her novels.

If you enjoy literary suspense, you're in for an absolute treat!
Profile Image for Michael.
1,094 reviews1,510 followers
August 4, 2019
Wonderful return by Atkinson after nearly a decade to her detective series featuring Jackson Brodie. Again I am delighted by her method of storytelling by flitting among the lively minds of her characters on their various tracks, the pursuers and the pursued, the victims and potential victims, the suspects and witnesses, as they progress toward intersection and revelation or, more often, whirl off the linear track to obfuscation. Not exactly a postmodern take on reality, but work I do class as a literary accomplishment I compare in my head to work I love from Ali Smith.

Jackson has taken up mundane detective work such as infidelity investigations in a Yorkshire seaside village (Bridlington). His ex-girlfriend, Julia, has granted him time with their teenaged son, Nathan, whom he struggles to connect with in the face of his being glued to his iPhone. He spends more quality time and one-way dialogs with his aging Labrador, Dido (e.g. he imagines Dido advising him that “A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen.”). Two events draw him out of dormancy as the undaunted crusader for justice which we thirst for in this world of evil. Out walking Dido, he spies a girl of about 12 accepting a ride from an apparent stranger and later recognizes her backpack washed ashore. On another walk he is nearly killed as he tries to grab a seemingly suicidal man on the edge of a cliff. In drawing him out, this Vince reveals he has lost in short order his job, his home, his dog, and his wife. And, by the way, she has been found in her lover’s yard, killed by a whack from a golf club, and he is a prime suspect in the police investigations.

Jackson draws Vince out, but distances himself from true empathy by resorting to platitudes from the lyrics of country songs (e.g. Mary Chapin Carpenter: “Sometimes you’re the windshield …sometimes you’re the bug”; Kenny Rogers: “You’ve got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them”). Wisely, he avoids lines from Hank Williams. And despite his insensitive view that for people in “existential angst” who couldn’t change things, “you just sucked it up and soldiered on”, he continually reaps the internalized editing from absent Julia (“Remind me not to come to you for therapy”). A first step toward taking up the hunt comes from a fermentation in his mind triggered by these two events: a memory of how over a decade ago two prominent members of the golf club Vince belongs to were convicted of running a child abuse network which involved use of an ice-cream wagon and beachside amusement park venues to lure their victims in.

It’s not really a spoiler to say that the bad guys in this tale are involved in sex trafficking of young girls. Unlike the current Epstein case, the masterminds are not personally into abuse but are only in it for the money. Thus reminding us to wake up to the banality of evil, as epitomized by Hannah Arendt’s account of Eichmann’s pragmatic scheme for the Final Solution for exterminating the Jews. We want to believe that average people will be vigilant and take the risks to act on their suspicions. Jackson finds diverse allies among such ordinary people along the way to solving the case. Little does he know until late in the case that his young friend from previous books in the series, Reggie Case, is converging with his efforts. As a teenager, she had helped him on a case of a kidnapping of her female doctor friend and employer and even saved his life at one point. Reggie is now a junior “Detective Constable” for the town, working the cold case of identifying other partners in the past child abuse ring beyond those convicted.

I experienced great pleasure in the heroism and creative problem-solving of both Jackson and Reggie as they soldier on in the face of unseen, deadly resistance by the bad guys trying to stop their progress and keep any witnesses or defecting partners from exposing their identity. Well done, Kate! You satisfied your fans’ demands for a revival of your special marriage of fun and thrills. Now you can go back to your brilliant historical fiction and playing with alternative realities.
Profile Image for Carolyn Walsh .
1,478 reviews602 followers
July 15, 2019
*4:5* Stars.

”A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen.”

”Truth is absolute but the consequences of it aren't.”

I have always loved the enthralling Jackson Brodie series by Kate Atkinson. Although it has been a long nine years since the previous book in this series, Big Sky works as a standalone, and once again be charmed by her brilliant writing which contains mystery, dry humour, and quotable sentences which provide food for thought.

Brodie has now moved to a seaside village and has occasional visits from his sarcastic teenaged son and their elderly, slow-moving dog, courtesy of his ex Julia. He is now working on small cases as a private detective, such as surveillance of cheating spouses, but feels police work is ’still in his DNA’.

Featured is the case of an alluring woman who believes she is being watched and followed and wants Brodie to find out who it is. She rules out her husband, thinking he is too busy and disinterested to be spying on her. Brodie believes she is being paranoid until he sees a threatening note she received. One day he follows her car with her children on board, observing another car trailing her vehicle. He can only look on while her teenaged stepson her three-year-old daughter are abducted. She is vehement in calling Brodie a terrible detective. Brodie’s part in the book is small but crucial and always interesting.

While reading the book you will meet disparate, well-developed characters which seem to have little connection to Brodie’s story and only tenuous connection to one another. Even the minor characters are unforgettable. Paying attention to the various names is important, and will be richly rewarded for the reader. These separate threads are woven together in surprising ways and collide in a tension-filled scene of frightening consequences.

We have more insight into Brodie’s personal, lonely life and thoughts, thought-provoking exquisite writing, murder, and a very ugly and cruel sex trafficking business will be revealed.

There is much left to wish for another book in the Jackson Brodie series, and in the meantime, this has inspired me to reread all the previous books
Profile Image for Somethingsnotright.
31 reviews58 followers
August 14, 2019
Kate Atkinson is a wonderful writer. I enjoyed this book very much, and I especially appreciated the way she describes the characters - they are all so beautifully drawn. For me, I only wish I had not read this before reading the rest of the series first. It might have been a five star book except for feeling vaguely lost at times. However, I like the writing so much I am going back now to read Case Histories and work my way through the series.
Profile Image for Faith Hurst-Bilinski.
1,314 reviews10 followers
June 28, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,953 reviews38 followers
August 4, 2019
Loved it! I loved the family drama, the narrative, the Britishness, and the sense of place. The author deftly makes the every day seem interesting. She phrases things in a way that captures my interest such as, "spading Rimmel® foundation on his face," or "their marriage was dead. Its corpse wasn't even cold before she was internet dating like a rabbit on speed, leaving him to dine off fish and chips most nights and wonder where it all went wrong." Then referring to re-packing the car with the family belongings, the father wryly muses that "their belongings seemed to have bred overnight in the dark," leaving me giggling and nodding in agreement thinking on my own experience of re-packing and wondering how I got everything in the first time around. It was also lovely to be reminded of the oft heard, "Mustn't grumble," which I hadn't heard in ages. It wasn't all fun and games though, the author tackles the topic of human trafficking and reminds us that the people that are responsible for such despicable use of human beings for profit may well be known to us.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,062 reviews200 followers
June 15, 2019
I am a little angry at Kate Atkinson. She has made me wait 8 long years for a new Jackson Brodie book and I didn't realize how much I missed him before I read this excellent book. Then I had a dilemma. Do I read it fast as I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next or do I savor it to make it last as long as possible? Well, of course I read it fast because it was so good I had to know what was going to happen next.

Despite the long absence I had no trouble getting into the Brodie rhythm. He is a private detective spending time with his teen-age son with Julia who keeps his nose in a cell phone. He is having words with his eldest daughter who calls him a Luddite. He is at loose ends trying to make connections. He is hired by a woman who has seen more plastic surgery than the Khardashians. She is also full of a lurid past and is quite wealthy thanks to her husband who owns a trucking firm.

And as he unravels the case, he stumbles onto an ugly crime and people who know each other. Full of coincidences and reminiscent of Life After Life with people meeting up in the oddest ways. As the young rookie female cops keep saying, it is like one big jigsaw puzzle. Of course one of the young women is from Brodie's past who is angry with him as he still owes her money.

Things are not resolved in a legal way but certainly a moral one. That goes for the mystery and the personal one. This book is layered in so ways and written by one of the best authors currently working. One of the very best books I've read this year. I will read it again just for the pleasure.

Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review. Please, Kate Atkinson, don't make us wait so long for the next one. Chain yourself to a desk in the cellar and just write, (just kidding sort of).

Profile Image for Lisa.
1,469 reviews565 followers
September 6, 2020
[3+] I like Jackson Brodie and this novel kept me entertained. I don't remember many of the details of previous novels and this put me at a disadvantage as there are many reoccurring characters. Atkinson is a splendid writer but spent 3/4 of the novel introducing a huge cast of characters, saving the action to the last pages.
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