Big Sky, Kate Atkinson's latest entry into her Jackson Brodie series, feels sprawling and meandering - in the very best of ways. Encompassing a wide cast of characters, nearly all of whom have some sort of checkered past, she tells the story of several crimes, and some possible crimes. These include the uncovering of a sex trafficking ring, a mysterious fall from a cliff, the murder of one of the key character's ex-wife, and an old Jimmy Savile-esque abuse scandal that continues to rear it's ugly head throughout the novel.
While I was a bit anxious during the first twenty-five percent of the book (when, I kept asking myself, are we going to get to the crime solving here?), Atkinson's masterful ability to make even the most unsympathetic characters interesting makes the whole journey worthwhile. Jackson Brodie, is, of course, older, more grizzled, but has just as excellent taste in country music as always, and other characters from his previous adventures feature in this book as well. But it's the new characters - particularly secretly clever trophy wife Crystal and her sweet, cheese joke making teenage stepson Harry - who shine in this mystery.
This book is perfect for a seaside vacation - just the kind of novel that should be slipped into a tote bag, coated with a light residue of sand and sunscreen, and enjoyed between dips in the ocean (it's even set near a seaside resort!). Just try to avoid staying at a dodgy B&B like the one featured in the book.
Overall: 4 plus Sherlocks. Takes a little while to get going, but also so good that it deserves re-reading(s).