Kate Atkinson is one of the best story tellers that I have read in the last ten years. Amazingly unbelievable and yet entirely plausible, her stories intertwine from past to present and back again. I loved this book, and all of her others.
Three different mysteries come together here, each woven seperately and finally overlapping. One, especially compelling involved the lone childhood survivor of a family massacre, now a doctor with a child of her own, just as the murderer is to be released from prison after serving his time. She has employed a young teenage girl as her "mother's helper" Reggie, who's own mother has recently died.
Reggie is beside herself when her beloved employer and her child suddenly disappear, and is intent on solving the mystery. She tries to enlist the aid of a woman police sargent, and an ex-cop who's life she manages to save after a train crash. So many lives and stories overlapping, yet isn't life itself a series of unexplainable coincidences? Just like the train, going insistently forward before the crash, all these stories come together, as if on impact. I thought this book was very well done and kept me engaged until the very end!
I love Kate Atkinson's novels with Jackson Brodie- this was a great one- I liked it just as much as Case Histories and more than One Good Turn. the characters are fantastic, and the story kept me up many nights as I could not put this one down, I'm sad i just completed it!
I had to force myself all the way through this book and then I wanted to kick myself. Maybe because it was not at all what I expected when I read the back cover.
First Line: The heat rising up from the tarmac seemed to get trapped between the thick hedges that towered above their heads like battlements.
When Joanna Mason was six, she obeyed her mother and lived while all the rest of them died. Thirty years later, Jackson Brodie is on a crowded train that's running late when he hears a horrible sound. Sixteen-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little television at the end of a long day, but her peaceful evening is shattered. Luckily Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for emergencies.
Once again Kate Atkinson has created three living, breathing characters with absolutely nothing in common and then brought them together in such a way that you can't take your eyes off the page. From the very first Jackson Brodie book (Case Histories), I learned that Atkinson is a master plot weaver and a master at creating characters that you come to know better than you know yourself.
Jackson Brodie is in one of his usual muddles and finds himself in Scotland where Joanna Mason now lives as an adult with her husband and infant son. Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe is a law unto herself and wouldn't be able to stay out of this book if her life depended on it. You see, she cares for Brodie even though she won't admit it.
To the mix of Brodie, Mason and Monroe add a sixteen-year-old who's an "unstoppable force of nature" and more than fierce enough to resemble a "Jack Russell fending off a pack of Dobermans." Young Reggie is the catalyst in this book, and she's a treasure. She single-handedly gets all the adults moving because she refuses to turn her back when she knows something is wrong. No one's ever been able to make Reggie understand that kids can't get results when they put their minds to it. (I'd love to see her as an adult!)
Each character takes a turn at telling us their side of the story, and it's the stream-of-consciousness story telling that allows us to get so far into each character's mind. Getting to know these wonderful characters almost makes the intricately woven plot surplus to requirements... almost. For, without the plot, Brodie and Louise and Joanna and Reggie wouldn't be able to meet and try to get everything put to rights again.
Reading one of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie books is an experience to be savored. Her various plot threads and characters that slowly move together may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if it's yours, please don't miss the pleasure of reading these excellent books.