This is the second novel in the series of which ex-soldier, ex-police officer and newly wealthy ex-private detective Jackson Brodie is the chief protagonist. Just as in the first book in the series, Case Histories, the story is told from the point of view of a number of different characters, whose lives intersect with and whose actions directly and indirectly affect each other.
A recurrent image in the novel is that of Matryoshka dolls – the Russian dolls which fit inside each other. The image is particularly appropriate to describe the way in which the various strands of the plot come together and like Matryoska dolls, Atkinson's characters are intricate and colourful.
The mystery is really not the point of this novel, although there is a final twist which was satisfying, if not a huge surprise. What I enjoyed most are the language and the characters. Atkinson gives her characters individual and very quirky voices and uses internal monologues to great effect. Atkinson’s prose is clean and crisp. She also uses humour particularly well and there are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments.
I love the fact that Atkinson does not write straightforward crime novels, even though the plot centres on traditional crime fiction themes. If Atkinson writes to a formula, then it is her own formula, not a set of rules for mystery writers. I’m very much looking forward to the next book in the series. Jackson Brodie is a most attractive character and it will be a while before I tire of either him or of Atkinson’s style.
Another fun buddy read with my friend Jemidar.