I am not a detective novel fan, preferring to read romance or family drama, but since I like this author, I thought I shall get out of my comfort zone (better do that more often) and give it a go.
This book brings back the familiar characters from her last book Case Histories (https://vickychong.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/case-histories-by-kate-atkinson/). The central figure Jackson Brodie is tasked with searching for the family of a woman from New Zealand who was given away for adoption when she was a toddler. While in Case Histories, Jackson had just met Julia and were about to embark on a romance, here, we learn that the romance is over and they have a son, Julia is remarried and Jackson was swindled of his assets (left behind by a grateful client in Case Histories) by second wife. (Did I miss reading another book?)
While the story here is relatively simple, it is made complicated by the many characters involved in the case, as well as lack of chapters. The story swings between present and 1975, and it took me some time, flipping between pages to remind me exactly how the characters are and how they are associated with the case. Without giving too much away, the case involves a cover up of a murder of a prostitute by a detective and his cahoots and her missing children. The uniformed policeman/woman Barry and Tracy tried to investigate but the they, as well as the social worker Linda and a reporter, Marilyn, were silenced either by threats or piled with other assignments, until now. A senile actress, a mysterious child and another mysterious B Jackson added to the tangle of the web.
In the end, I gave up trying to figure out how each and everyone is connected to the case and just enjoyed Atkinson’s writing and how the characters interact with each other in their British wit. Atkinson makes no apologies about how Britain is invaded by droves of South Asians in the 1970s, very much like how we resent the recent immigrants to Singapore. Her references to Chinks and Pakis, while politically incorrect, makes the characters real. This is no fast pace car chase, but a leisurely drive while the characters brood and reminiscent their pasts, evaluate their lives, analyse their relationships and contemplate their futures.
As Jackson travels around Britain to search for his client’s roots, we get to enjoy Britain as well and how horrible the food is there, especially the coffee, often referred to as weak and acidic. I guess the author must had been nursing bad coffee while writing this novel. I read in anticipation, as hungry as Jackson as he ‘exited Valerie (a B&B) in the conventional way to investigate Mrs Read’s ‘full Yorkshire Breakfast.’ ‘Jackson didn’t know what to he’d expected – Yorkshire pudding, a symbolic white rose cut into toast perhaps – but instead, there was the usual fry-up consisting of flabby slices of bacon, a pale, glassy egg, mushrooms like slugs and a sausage that inevitably reminded him of a dog turd.’ Puts me off visiting England reading this.
In the end, I did enjoy reading the book.