The major crime here - sex trafficking - does not, of course, occasion mirth, but Atkinson’s sardonic levity lightens everything that happens. It’s great to see Jackson Brodie back in action as he wends his way through a sprawling, deftly plotted story involving Reggie, his former mentee. She’s now a DC, working with the equally terrific Ronnie on a cold case to do with a paedophile ring. It has connections to the current human slavery operation run by sleazy solicitor Steve Mellors with assistance from Tommy and Andy, whose marital situations provide much of the interest and humour. Their luckless golfing friend Vince, cast off by his wife and his long term employer, becomes a person of interest to the police and due in part to his former life as a soldier with the Signals (he kept his gun) becomes the worm who turned, helping along the all-stops-out denouement at the run-down place where the girls to be sold into the sex slave industry are kept. Vince is a sort of men’s right figure: the guy who slogs through life dutifully, only to find he’s about to lose everything. MI5 has a shadowy presence. Turns out that one of the high-ups in the “magic circle” sold secrets to the Russians and the Chinese, so this is a convenient way of nailing him. Brodie and Reggie agree on a lie to protect a trafficked girl. It’s a situation they’ve been in before: committing a crime to cover a greater one. Everything is terrific: every character is nicely realised, the story is engaging and engrossing, the feminist points are made but not belaboured and the plot points are slightly backtracked to allow for different points of view. There are interesting sub-plots, such as the nice Christian woman who sets Brodie on the tail of her erring husband, a diabetic. Brodie baits a honey-trap for the guy with his friend Tatiana, who turns out to be working for the wife in a different capacity. Tommy’s wife Crystal plays a major role. She’s come a long way and is not about to let her daughter and stepson down. The novel is book-ended by Brodie helping his daughter ditch her intended at the altar and it’s also nice that he forges a connection with his typically phone-addicted son. A hugely enjoyable read. Let’s hope there’s another Brodie book in the pipeline.
I purchased this book after reading a glowing review in a magazine. It was such a disappointment. The character description was overly complex and much too long. The main plot kept getting lost so in the end you have no idea what is going on. I would skip this one.
I’ve always enjoyed ready Kate Atkinson and this book is no exception. The way her stories unfold with wit and intrigue . And I just love her Jackson Brodie . We would love to read another one any time soon!