By Kate Atkinson
This is the third book Kate Atkinson has written featuring private investigator Jackson Brodie, following on from Case Histories, and the excellent When Will There be Good News.
Brodie is quietly following a case, trying to track down the birth mother of New Zealand woman Hope McMaster. He's also still trying to track down his ex-wife who swindled him somewhat. We meet Tracie Waterhouse, a retired cop now security manager for a large mall, who in a rash moment 'buys' a little girl off a no-hoper druggie prostitute in an attempt at rescuing her. Tracie soon realises no one in authority is going to buy that line and she's effectively kidnapped the child, which complicates life somewhat. Courtenay, the little girl is perfectly happy with her new arrangement, but Tracie realises she'd better make themselves scarce. But it soon becomes apparent someone is hunting them down. Jackson Brodie has acquired himself a dog under similar sorts of circumstances.
This book hops between the past and the present, with events that happened when Tracie Waterhouse was a young police constable, and how those events affect the current day. Like Kate Atkinson's other novels it can sometimes seem to meander, but then you realise that paths are going to intersect and in curious ways.
Her characterisation is wonderful. One of the most memorable characters is Tilly, an elderly actress who witnesses the events in the mall which start the whole affair. Her sad, yet riveting slide into confusion is very affecting.
Kate Atkinson is a very clever writer, the way she weaves her characters together, the result is a very satisfying read.
I had the pleasure of seeing Kate in action at the Christchurch Writers Festival a few years ago when she was talking about When Will There be Good News. Christchurch must have made an impression on her with her character Hope McMaster living there. As a proud Kiwi the nod to New Zealand made me smile.