Unfortunately I don’t have the time to write my thoughts on the four brilliant Kate Atkinson books featuring her private investigator, Jackson Brodie, so I thought I’d write about him instead trying to keep to my “10 sentences or less” rule! His back story and antics are the central feature of all four books, so at the end of this rambling brain dump you should have a better idea of how his character complements the plot of each volume and helps bring the stories off the page.
Jackson Brodie; former soldier and police officer, private investigator of marital and other every day misdemeanors is an enigma to himself and this is what makes him so attractive to a reader like me. He is a character full of contradictions. He is tender, yet grumpy; he has a keen sense of social justice, yet makes some dubious decisions; he is able to sniff out the bad eggs, yet often doesn’t see personal trouble coming. He can be irritatingly dim in that respect. Jackson goes about his investigation of the sometimes gruesome, sometimes odd crimes with an unwilling intensity that only someone brilliant at what they do can. For all these contradictions and especially the mastery with which he begrudgingly plies his trade, he is utterly adorable. I want to mother him and sleep with him at the same time – an odd situation mirroring the paradox of the character.
Although I am writing this primarily about Atkinson’s main character, I wouldn’t want you to think these are books without substance, self-indulgently developing Brodie into the swoontastic anti-hero he is, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. The world Jackson inhabits is real and vivid on the page, the cases intricately developed and, unlike other crime fiction, the stories are often wrapped up through chance connection or coincidence – sound cliché? It isn’t. So my advice is, go seek out these books as an alternative to run-of-the-mill crime fiction and I dare you not to fall in love with Jackson Brodie.
I’m writing this ahead of attending the Cheltenham Literature Festival where I will be seeing Kate Atkinson talk about her newest book A God in Ruins.
p.s. I broke the 10 sentence rule with this one – but only just!