From Publishers Weekly
Having won a wide following for her first crime novel (and fifth book), Case Histories
(2004), Atkinson sends Det. Jackson Brodie to Edinburgh while girlfriend Julia performs in a Fringe Festival play. When incognito thug "Paul Bradley" is rear-ended by a Honda driver who gets out and bashes Bradley unconscious with a baseball bat, the now-retired Jackson is a reluctant witness. Other bystanders include crime novelist Martin Canning, a valiant milquetoast who saves Bradley's life, and tart-tongued Gloria Hatter, who's plotting to end her 39-year marriage to a shady real estate developer. Jackson walks away from the incident, but keeps running into trouble, including a corpse, the Honda man and sexy, tight-lipped inspector Louise Monroe. Everyone's burdened by a secret—infidelity, unprofessional behavior, murder—adding depth and many diversions. After Martin misses a visit from the Honda man (Martin's wonderfully annoying houseguest isn't so lucky), he enlists Jackson as a bodyguard, pulling the characters into closer orbit before they collide on Gloria Hatter's lawn. Along the way, pieces of plot fall through the cracks between repeatedly shifting points of view, and the final cataclysm feels forced. But crackling one-liners, spot-on set pieces and full-blooded cameos help make this another absorbing character study from the versatile, effervescent Atkinson. (Oct. 11)
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The literary novelist who caused a stir with her crossover into the mystery genre, Case Histories
(2004), here offers an intricately plotted and quite amusing sequel. Jackson Brodie, a PI who inherited $1 million from a former client, is two years into retirement in the French countryside. Traveling to Edinburgh, Scotland, for an arts festival with his actress girlfriend, Julia, also a former client, Jackson is feeling somewhat "unmanned" by his formless days, which he spends filling up his iPod with sad country songs and feeding apples to French donkeys. Then he happens on a case of road rage. As the witnesses, including a timid mystery author, are subsequently menaced by various and sundry thugs, Jackson traces the incidents back to the unsavory business dealings of a real-estate developer. Atkinson has a lot of fun playing against type, portraying writers and actors as leading small, unimaginative lives while revealing the hidden depths in an unassuming, longtime housewife. Although it's not as wonderful as its predecessor, this still makes for delightfully witty reading. Joanne WilkinsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved