Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Kate Atkinson would be a hoot to meet if a conversation with her were half as funny as the ones between the characters in her books.  One minute I'm shrinking in horror, and the next minute I can't stop laughing.  Jackson Brodie, former cop and current part-time PI, meets his match in Tracy Waterhouse, a large woman, also a former cop and now doing mall security.  She and Jackson, at about the same time, happen upon a bullying situation and offer asylum to a mistreated victim.  In Tracy's case, the victim is a little girl named Courtney; in Jackson's, it's a small dog.  In Atkinson's usual coincidental fashion, Tilly, an actress with accelerating dementia, witnesses the Courtney transaction and also happens to be in a TV show with Jackson's ex-girlfriend Julia.  Add to the mix another PI whose last name is Jackson, and off we go into one of Atkinson's delightful dervishes.  Tracy is spunky and determined and wields a mean Maglite, convinced that her various pursuers are out to separate her from Courtney.  In fact, she was a tangential player in a 1975 case in which a child….  Well, let's not go there, but that can of worms has been reopened unintentionally due to the efforts of both Jacksons, with Mr. Brodie having been hired to locate a woman's biological parents.  Tracy is pretty deft at evading her pursuers, using her heft to its best advantage, but the star of this show is little Courtney, with her fairy wand and backpack full of talismans (talismen?).  The most tragic character is perhaps Barry Crawford, a cop whose daughter lies in a coma from a car accident in which her drunken husband was driving and her young son was killed.  This book could be a good advocate for honest communication, because hidden agendas lead to some very serious unforeseen consequences.  The children are the guileless ones.  Courtney communicates more with her hands (2 thumbs up!) than most of the adults in this novel.

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