Kate Atkinson returns on top form with her fourth crime novel featuring Jackson Brodie, her slighly world-weary, laconic and oh-so-human private eye. This time he's in Yorkshire, trying to trace the family of Hope McMaster, whose roots don't seem to exist. Also in the mix is Tracy Waterhouse, cop-turned-security-guard, who is haunted by one particular murder from the 1970s; Tilly, an elderly actress who is struggling through befuddlement to play her role in a drama series; and DS Barry Crawford, just two weeks from retirement, a keeper of secrets who is weighed down with grief and anger. There is also a dog called The Ambassador.
While Jackson begins to uncover more about the mysterious Hope, Tracy makes a reckless purchase which throws her career and whole future into jeopardy. As ever, Atkinson controls the action perfectly, slipping from one plot-thread into another and weaving the strands tighter and tighter together until all are connected. Family ties, lost and found children, prostitutes, murders and a coincidence or two, this novel is tautly plotted and full of surprises.
I am a huge fan of Kate Atkinson's books. Her characters are perfectly and wittily described, the writing is punchy, humorous and tight, and the momentum builds and builds throughout to a satisfying ending. The dialogue is always spot-on and realistic, and I think she captures relationships brilliantly - particularly Jackson's relationships with his ex, Julia, his daughter, Marlee, and the eponymous dog in this novel, as well as the dynamic between Tracy and Barry. This is sure to be another massive hit for Atkinson, and well deserved. I'm already looking forward to the next one!