First United States edition.
Publisher, Date:
New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2019.
391 pages : illustration ; 24 cm.
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.
"A novel"--Cover of dust jacket.
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Author Notes
Kate Atkinson was born in York, and studied English Literature at the University of Dundee. She earned her Masters Degree from Dundee in 1974. She then went on to study for a doctorate in American Literature but she failed at the viva (oral examination) stage. After leaving the university, she took on a variety of jobs from home help to legal secretary and teacher. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year ahead of Salman Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh and Roy Jenkins's biography of William Ewart Gladstone. It went on to be a Sunday Times bestseller. <p> Since then, she has published another five novels, one play, and one collection of short stories. Her work is often celebrated for its wit, wisdom and subtle characterisation, and the surprising twists and plot turns. Her most recent work has featured the popular former detective Jackson Brodie. In 2009, she donated the short story Lucky We Live Now to Oxfam's 'Ox-Tales' project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. Atkinson's story was published in the 'Earth' collection. In March 2010, Atkinson appeared at the York Literature Festival, giving a world-premier reading from an early chapter from her forthcoming novel Started Early, Took My Dog, which is set mainly in the English city of Leeds. <p> Atkinson's bestselling novel, Life after Life, has won numerous awards, including the COSTA Novel Award for 2013. The follow-up to Life After Life is A God in Ruins and was published in 2015. This title won a Costa Book Award 2015 in the novel category. <p> (Bowker Author Biography)
First Chapter or Excerpt
Eloping 'So what now?' he asked. 'A quick getaway,' she said, shucking off her fancy shoes into the passenger footwell. 'They were killing me,' she said and gave him a rueful smile because they'd cost a fortune. He knew - he'd paid for them. She had already removed her bridal veil and tossed it on to the back seat, along with her bouquet, and now she began to struggle with the thicket of grips in her hair. The delicate silk of her wedding dress was already crushed, like moth wings. She glanced at him and said, 'As you like to say - time to get the hell out of Dodge.' 'Okay, then. Let's hit the highway,' he said and started the engine. He noticed that she was cupping the bowl of her belly where she was incubating an as yet invisible baby. Another branch to add to the family tree. A twig. A bud. The past counted for nothing, he realized. Only the present had value. 'Wheels up, then,' he said and put his foot down on the gas. On the way, they made a detour up to Rosedale Chimney Bank to stretch their legs and look at the sunset that was flooding the vast sky with a glorious palette of reds and yellows, orange and even violet. It demanded poetry, a thought he voiced out loud, and she said, 'No, I don't think so. It's enough in itself.' The getting of wisdom, he thought. There was another car parked up there, an older couple, admiring the view. 'Magnificent, isn't it?' the man said. The woman smiled at them and congratulated the 'happy couple' on their wedding and Jackson said, 'It's not what it looks like.' *One Week Earlier* Anderson Price Associates   Katja scrutinized Nadja's make-up. Nadja posed for her as if she were taking a selfie, cheeks sucked in like a corpse, mouth pouted extravagantly.   'Yeah. Good,' Katja pronounced finally. She was the younger of the two sisters but was by far the bossier.  They could be twins , people always said. There were two years and one and a half inches between them. Katja was the smaller and the prettier of the two, although they were both petite and shared the same shade of (not entirely natural) blonde hair, as well as their mother's eyes - green irises encircled by grey.   'Hold still,' Nadja said and brushed an eyelash off Katja's cheek. Nadja had a degree in Hospitality Management and worked at the Radisson Blu, where she wore a pencil-skirted suit and two-inch heels and tidied her hair away in a tight bun while she dealt with complaining guests. People complained all the time. When she got home to her shoe-box apartment she shook her hair free and put on jeans and a big sweatshirt and walked around barefoot and no one complained because she lived on her own, which was the way she liked it.   Katja had a job in Housekeeping in the same hotel. Her English wasn't as good as her older sister's. She didn't have any qualifications beyond school and even those were mediocre because she had spent her childhood and most of her teenage years ice-skating competitively, but in the end she just wasn't good enough. It was a cruel, vicious world and she missed it every day. The ice rink had made her tough and she still had a skater's figure, lithe and strong. It drove men a little crazy. For Nadja it had been dancing - ballet - but she had given it up when their mother couldn't afford to pay for lessons for both of them. She had sacrificed her talent easily, or so it seemed to Katja.   Katja was twenty-one, living at home, and couldn't wait to fly the stifling nest, even though she knew that a job in London would almost certainly be the same as the one she had here - making beds and cleaning toilets and pulling strangers' soapy hair out of plugholes. But once she was there things would change, she knew they would.   The man was called Mr Price. Mark Price. He was a partner in a recruitment agency called Anderson Price Associates - APA - and had already interviewed Nadja over Skype. Nadja reported to Katja that he was attractive - tanned, a full head of attractively greying hair ('like George Clooney'), a gold signet ring and a heavy Rolex on his wrist ('like Roger Federer'). 'He'd better look out, I might marry him,' Katja said to her sister and they both laughed.   Nadja had emailed scans of her qualifications and references to Mark Price and now they were waiting in Nadja's apartment for him to Skype from London again to 'confirm all the details' and 'have a quick chat' with Katja. Nadja had asked him if he could find work for her sister too and he said, 'Why not?' There was plenty of work in British hotels. 'The problem is no one wants to work hard here,' Mark Price said.   'I want to work hard there,' Nadja said.   They weren't stupid, they knew about trafficking, about people who tricked girls into thinking they were going to good jobs, proper jobs, who then ended up drugged, trapped in some filthy hole of a room having sex with one man after another, unable to get home again because their passports had been confiscated and they had to 'earn' them back. APA wasn't like that. They had a professional web- site, all above board. They recruited all over the world for hotels, nursing homes, restaurants, cleaning companies, they even had an office in Brussels, as well as one in Luxembourg. They were 'affiliated' and recognized and had all kinds of testimonials from people.   From what you could see of it on Skype, their office in London looked very smart. It was busy - you could hear the constant murmur of staff in the background, talking to each other, tapping keyboards, answering the ringing phones. And Mark Price himself was serious and businesslike. He talked about 'human resources' and 'support' and 'employer responsibility'. He could help to arrange accommodation, visas, English tuition, ongoing training.   He already had something in mind for Nadja, 'one of the very top hotels', but she could decide when she arrived. There were plenty of opportunities 'for a bright girl' like her. 'And my sister,' she had reminded him.   'And your sister, yes, of course,' he'd laughed.   He would even pay their airfares. Most agencies expected you to pay them money up front for finding you a job. He would send an e-ticket, he said, they would fly to Newcastle. Katja had looked it up on the map. It was miles from London. 'Three hours on the train,' Mark Price said, it was 'easy'. And cheaper for him this way - he was paying for their tickets, after all. A representative of Anderson Price Associates would meet them at the airport and take them to an Airbnb in Newcastle for the night as the Gdansk flight came in late in the day. Next morning someone would escort them to the station and put them on a train. Someone else would pick them up at King's Cross and drive them to a hotel for a few nights until they got settled. 'It's a well-oiled machine,' he said.   Nadja could probably have got a transfer to another Radisson but she was ambitious and wanted to work in a luxury hotel, somewhere everyone had heard of - the Dorchester, the Lanesborough, the Mandarin Oriental. 'Oh, yes,' Mark Price had said, 'we have contracts with all those places.' Katja wasn't bothered, she just wanted to be in London. Nadja was the more serious of the two, Katja the carefree one. Like the song said, girls just wanted to have fun.   And so now they were sitting in front of Nadja's open laptop waiting for Mark Price to call.   Mark Price was on time, to the second. 'Okay,' Nadja said to Katja. 'Here we go. Ready?'   ***   The tiny delay in transmission seemed to be making it harder for her to translate what he was saying. Her English wasn't as proficient as her sister had claimed. She laughed a lot to compensate, tossing her hair and looming nearer the screen as if she could persuade him by filling it with her face. She was pretty, though. They were both pretty, but this one was prettier.   'Okay, Katja,' he said. 'Time's getting on.' He tapped his watch to illustrate because he could see the blankness behind her smile. 'Is your sister still there?' Nadja's face appeared on the screen, squashed against Katja's, and they both grinned at him. They looked as if they were in a Photo-Me booth.   'Nadja,' he said, 'I'll have my secretary email you the tickets first thing in the morning, okay? And I'll see you both soon. Looking forward to meeting you. Have a good evening.'   He turned the screen off and the girls disappeared. He stood up and stretched. Behind him on the wall was the smart 'APA' logo for Anderson Price Associates. He had a desk and a chair. There was a print of something modern but classy on the wall. Part of it was in view in the camera on the laptop - he had checked carefully. On the other side you could see an orchid. The orchid looked real, but it was a fake. The office was a fake. Anderson Price Associates was a fake, Mark Price was a fake. Only his Rolex was real.   He wasn't in an office in London, he was in a mobile home in a field on the East Coast. His 'other office', as he thought of it. It was only half a mile inland and sometimes the screaming gulls threatened to spoil the illusion that he was in London.   He turned off the recording of  Office Ambience Sounds , switched off the lights, locked up the mobile home and climbed into his Land Rover Discovery. Time to go home. He could almost taste the Talisker that his wife would have waiting for him. Excerpted from Big Sky by Kate Atkinson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
Fiction/Biography Profile
Jackson Brodie (Male), Private investigator, Divorced, Father, Ex-police detective, Retired, Millionaire, Iconoclastic; chance encounter with a desperate man gets him caught up in a sinister network
Search for truth
Murder investigations
England - Europe
Time Period
2000s -- 21st century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  Publishers Weekly Review

Atkinson's slow-moving fifth Jackson Brodie novel (after 2010's Started Early, Took My Dog) finds the former policeman turned PI, who's now based on the east coast of Yorkshire, grappling with parenting. Brodie, who endured a traumatic childhood-a mother lost to cancer, a sister murdered, and a brother who committed suicide-shares custody of 13-year-old Nathan Land, who has an "ego big enough to swallow planets whole," with Nathan's mother, Julia. Though Brodie has some routine work surveilling a suspected cheating spouse, the action only hits high gear relatively late when he happens upon a man about to jump off a cliff, Vince Ives, whose wife, Wendy, was recently fatally bludgeoned with a golf club. Brodie manages to save Vince's life, and his look into Wendy's death involves him in an ugly case of human trafficking. Atkinson has been better at balancing personal and professional story lines, and the presence of a figure from Jackson's past, now a cop involved in an inquiry looking at establishment figures, won't resonate for first-timers. Series fans will best appreciate this outing. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, Inkwell Management. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

  Booklist Review

It's been eight years since Atkinson's last Jackson Brodie mystery (Started Early, Took My Dog, 2011), and, while the three historical novels she has written since then all with some connection to WWII have been uniformly brilliant, fans of the ever-brooding, painfully tenderhearted private investigator will be thrilled that Brodie is finally back. He's living in a remote cottage near the sea in Yorkshire, but somehow he still finds no shortage of troubled souls washing up around him needing help. It begins with a runaway bride and a sad sack with suicide on his mind, and, from there, Jackson's menagerie of broken-winged creatures leads him into something much darker, something that will thoroughly reinforce his ingrained pessimism. (""Have you ever tried being an optimist?"" Jackson's former partner, actress Julia, asks him. ""Once,"" Jackson replies. ""It didn't suit me."") Using her signature narrative style, Atkinson not only tells the story from multiple points of view, but also moves back and forth in time, letting us see new sides of an incident from several characters' perspectives. This technique feeds a rich kind of dramatic irony, as we know marginally more than the people in any one scene do, but never quite enough. As the lives of several Yorkshire couples slowly swirl out of control, with the ripples of dysfunction, buried abuse, and tightly held secrets gradually drawing Jackson into their red tide, we marvel at Atkinson's rare ability to create in a relatively few but stunningly deft brushstrokes at least a half-dozen characters with the depth and complexity to own their own novel. Another dazzler from a writer whose talents know no bounds.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Atkinson's blend of literary fiction and crime novel attracts readers in great numbers from both those constituencies.--Bill Ott Copyright 2019 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

Jackson Brodie is back.This is Atkinson's fifth Jackson Brodie novel (Started Early, Took My Dog, 2011, etc.), but fans know that the phrase "Jackson Brodie novel" is somewhat deceptive. Yes, he is the hero in that he is a private investigatorformer cop, military veteranwho solves (usually) mysteries. But he is not so much the central character as the grumpy, anxious, largehearted gravitational field that attracts a motley assortment of lost souls and love interests. In this latest outing, Jackson is a half-duty parent to his teenage son while the boy's mother, an actor, finishes her run on a detective series. Vince Ives is a more-or-less successful middle-class husband and father until his wife leaves him, his boss makes him redundant, and he becomes a murder suspect. Crystal Holroydnot her real namehas built a brilliant new life for herself, but someone from her past is threatening her daughter. Both Vince and Crystal seek help from Jackson, with varying results. Meanwhile, Jackson's protge, Reggie Chase, has risen through the ranks in the police force and is taking a fresh look at an old case. That these stories intertwine is a given. "A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen" is one of Jackson's maxims; it could also serve as an ironic epigram for Atkinson's approach to the mystery genre. A small cast of characters collides and careens in a manner that straddles Greek tragedy and screwball comedy. The humor is sly rather than slapstick, and Atkinson is keenly interested in inner lives and motivations. There are villains, certainlyhuman trafficking and the sexual abuse of children figure prominently herebut even the sympathetic characters are complicated and compromised. Jackson has a strong moral code, but his behavior is often less than ethical. The same is true of Vince, Crystal, and Reggie. The deaths and disappearances that Jackson investigates change with every book, but the human heart remains the central mystery.The welcome return of an existential detective. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Iconoclastic detective Jackson Brodie returns in a triumphant new novel about secrets, sex, and lies <br> 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. <br> 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.<br> <br>
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