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Big Sky Reviews

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson

Big Sky

Kate Atkinson

4.41 out of 5

7 reviews

Imprint: Doubleday
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publication date: 18 Jun 2019
ISBN: 9780857526106

The highly anticipated return of Jackson Brodie, ex-military, ex-Cambridge Constabulary, now private investigator, `a hero for men and women alike'*. Old secrets and new lies intersect in this breathtaking new novel, both sharply funny and achingly sad, by one of the most dazzling and surprising writers at work today.

  • The GuardianBook of the Day
5 stars out of 5
Stephanie Merritt
11 Jun 2019

"laced with Atkinson’s sharp, dry humour, and one of the joys of the Brodie novels has always been that they are so funny"

She has never been a straightforward crime writer, and in Big Sky, as in the four previous Brodie novels, she gives the impression of winking at the reader, making us complicit in the recognition of cliches and expectations. The playful literary tricks that she made overt in Life After Life and A God in Ruins – the deliberate flagging up of her fictional constructs – have always been more subtly present in the Brodie novels. There are frequent references to crime fiction and its tropes; characters often observe that they are engaged in something that might happen in a novel or a film, often with the wry acknowledgment that life isn’t really like that... Big Sky is laced with Atkinson’s sharp, dry humour, and one of the joys of the Brodie novels has always been that they are so funny, even when the themes are as dark as child abuse and sex trafficking. 


4 stars out of 5
12 Jun 2019

"an exuberant, entertaining read"

Atkinson is on surer territory with new characters – she has an almost cruel ability to capture a person in a line or two. On Vince’s Bonsai-growing wife Wendy, for instance: “She shopped from the Boden catalogue and was proud of having grown a horrible stunted little tree.” But you also come to really know and love (or loathe) many of them. While this focus on character means Big Sky can lack the relentless propulsion associated with crime writing, getting to know a plethora of her tenacious, memorable characters seems like a fair trade, especially as they gently offer hope that, in the end, good will out.

4 stars out of 5
Francesca Angelini
9 Jun 2019

"Atkinson’s new mystery hits all the right notes"

If you like your beach reads to include a good measure of infidelity, murder suspects and missing cats — who doesn’t? — Atkinson’s new mystery hits all the right notes. Her existential detective, Jackson Brodie, is back after a nine-year hiatus, and the lost and bereaved are flocking to him.

4 stars out of 5
8 Jun 2019

"Jackson Brodie gets his fifth outing"

Ex-copper Jackson Brodie gets his fifth outing in the new novel by the reliably brilliant Atkinson - this time working as a private investigator in a small seaside town that's a long way from being sleepy.

4 stars out of 5
Sarra Manning
7 Jun 2019

"Jackson Brodie is back, and how we've missed him!"

Jackson Brodie is back, and how we've missed him! Our favourite accident-prone dectective has relocated to a quiet seaside village, but life doesn't remain quiet for long after he encounters a desperate man on a crumbling cliff.

3 stars out of 5
Rosemary Goring
1 Jun 2019

"walks the fine line between cheerfully unrealistic and macabre"

As with her other, standalone novels, Atkinson’s crime series walks the fine line between cheerfully unrealistic and macabre. Beneath the tightrope on which her plots are strung lies an overstuffed mattress, as if to cushion a fall. This safety net is filled with the back stories of a multitudinous cast, authorial asides, extraneous facts and anecdotes so unrelenting in their delivery it is sometimes difficult to detect where it’s all heading.... Atkinson’s instinct to lighten the mood at every opportunity makes for an uneven atmosphere in terms of crime drama, yet she manages, just about, to control the mood sufficiently to allow sardonicism, poignancy and appalling acts against humanity to share the same page. Stylistically, her conversational tone is winning, less so her parenthetical tic, which needs reining in.

  • The BooksellerBook of the Month
5 stars out of 5
Alice O'Keeffe
1 Mar 2019

"sees the return of Jackson Brodie (hurrah!) after a nine-year absence"

I could be accused of a lack of imagination for choosing the same author for the Book of the Month slot a mere nine months after her previous novel, Transcription, occupied the top spot, but this is Kate Atkinson, and to be honest I'd probably pick her writing every day of the week. This is her first novel to feature Jackson Brodie in nine years, and the fifth overall. The series began with Case Histories (2004), followed by One Good Turn (2006), When Will There Be Good News? (2008) and Started Early, Took My Dog (2010).