Between my reviews and my general rants, I’ve been coming off as a bit of an unpleasable grouch. I really do like things sometimes, honest.
And to prove it, here’s a genuine recommendation:
I’m only two books in to Kate Atkinson’s “Jackson Brodie” detective series, but it’s already one of my favorite reads in a long while. Atkinson’s writing style is that tricky combination of complex and smooth — she can pack a lot of ideas into a handful of words, but the novel never gets bogged down with too much introspection.
There are four books in total, and while I can only vouch for the first two, they’re good enough that I feel fairly confident that the others will follow suit. I’ve read Case Histories and One Good Turn, which leaves When Will There Be Good News and Started Early, Took My Dog.
For anyone turned off by the idea of a detective series, I will say that calling these books crime novels is a bit misleading. There are crimes, and there is a detective, but rather than being the driving force or the narrator — or even really the lead character — Jackson Brodie, divorced dad of one, is almost a side-character. For the most part, the mysteries seem to solve themselves, and in the last book Brodie was simply caught in the middle of a crime by accident, not by profession. Instead, Brodie’s strained relationships with the women in his life — his ex-wife, his girlfriend and his daughter — seem to cloud his judgment too much to do his actual job, and as a result the plot tends to drift off without him while we flick between the narratives of multiple parties involved in a crime or crimes, and Brodie.
There’s something very real about how mundane and everyday Atkinson can make murder through the eyes of a police officer or a detective, and how awful and all-consuming it is for just about everyone else.
Anyway, Jackson Brodie series. Pick it up.