cover image Big Sky

Big Sky

Kate Atkinson. Little, Brown, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-0-316-52309-7

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. [em]Agent: Kim Witherspoon, Inkwell Management. (June) [/em]