Big Sky (Jackson Brodie, #5)

By Kate Atkinson

23,202 ratings - 3.93* vote

Jackson Brodie, ex-military police, ex-Cambridge Constabulary, currently working as a private investigator, makes a highly anticipated return, nine years after the last Brodie, Started Early, Took My Dog.Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son and an aging Labrador, both at the discretion of his ex- Jackson Brodie, ex-military police, ex-Cambridge Constabulary, currently working as a private investigator, makes a

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Book details

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Original Title
Big Sky
Edition Language

Community Reviews


Kate Atkinson is the complete package - engrossing storylines and fully formed characters. She is one of my favorite authors. It’s been ages since she wrote a Jackson Brodie book. I was worried about the gap in time, but no worries. I immediately felt a connection with him all over again. How could I not with comments like this “ he couldn’t get the knowledge to rise up from the seabed of his memory - a dismal place with the rusting wreckage and detritus of his brain cells.” He’s dealing with his cynical, hormonal son, who wants nothing to do with him, an aging Labrador with “rusty hips” and his private investigations business which is mostly tracking wandering spouses. Oh, and his ex-partner’s voice rings in his head whenever his thoughts go on a wander.

Not only did I love Jackson, but also Harry, the teenage stepson of the woman that becomes Jackson’s client. Once again, the dry humor shines through and I found myself sometimes chuckling out loud.

The book moves along at a good clip. It reminded me of Harlan Coben in some ways, especially the humor. Although Atkinson’s characters tend to be more fully formed than Coben’s. And there are lots of characters here, so be prepared to pay attention to who is whom. It takes awhile for it to become sorted as to how they will all come together. “A coincidence is just an explanation waiting to happen.”

As with all of Atkinson’s books, time is a variable. It’s subtle here, but when a chapter changes from one character to another, you go back in time to get their perspective on events you just witnessed.

It’s not often I award five stars to a mystery. Too often, something is lacking or the story is just too unbelievable. Not here. The writing is just spot on. I found myself highlighting phrases, not because they were important to the plot, but just because I loved the turn of phrase. And any mystery that not only tells a good story but has me consistently laughing deserves five stars.

My thanks to netgalley and Little, Brown & Company for an advance copy of this book.

Meredith ( on Semi-Hiatus until February)

I love this book! I love Jackson Brodie! I love Kate Atkinson!

Diane S ☔

It was nice to see Jackson Brodie back again. In fact, my favorite parts of this book were his quiet musings and his often humorous relationship with his son. Though his role was little more than that of a bit player, leaving me wanting more of his presence.There are though, many characters in this story and multiple threads. Atkinson without any doubt on my part always writes amazingly well. Also she took on some timely issues, such as sex trafficking. She does tie these threads together by books end, but unfortunately she also included something that is a big trigger for me. Something I try to avoid in my fiction, or even non fiction for that matter. Just hard for me to read, so I ended up skimming parts of the second half.

ARC from Netgalley.


The flawed and brooding Jackson Brodie is one of my favorite characters. In Big Sky, Brodie is living and working as a PI in a small seaside village in order to be close to his teenage son. He ekes out a living taking on low level, unchallenging cases. That is, until he is hired by a woman who suspects she is being followed and the case develops into something far more sinister than it first appears.

There are a lot of characters to keep straight, but I trusted the author to bring all the seemingly disparate threads together and she did it masterfully. The writing is excellent with turns of phrases that gave me pause. The themes are timely, and the attention to detail and plotting is unmatched.

Far more than a detective novel, it is the author’s well-developed characters and her insight into human nature and that I love the most. Brodie’s witty asides were delightful.

Recommended for fans of the author who can give this book chunks of time and persevere until the connections are made clear. This isn’t a book that can be read in small bites.


Absolutely perfect! I really enjoyed this new Jackson Brodie book, in fact I reread the previous four books first (loved them too!) just to make sure I would appreciate every bit of Big Sky.

Jackson as usual is just muddling through life as best he can. His P.I. work is mostly mundane, his ex partner, Julia, has moved on, his daughter calls him a Luddite, his son hardly speaks to him at all. Then he gets thrust into drama from all sides as a series of coincidences pile up to involve him above and beyond the law. I loved seeing Reggie come back from earlier in the series and noted there was even a hint of Louise Monroe!

Reading a Kate Atkinsonbook requires concentration and application. Every word needs to be read or you miss things and she always introduces a great number of characters. Luckily most of them are detailed and well rounded so they are easy to recall. Time is also a bit slippery as the author tends to jump around from one character to another and frequently pops back in time to describe events from different points of view.

I always find Atkinson to be an excellent writer. She spins a well thought out mystery at the same time as handling a very serious issue carefully. She produces some delightful characters, Jackson himself of course and, in this book, Harry is a particular stand out. She places her book in an area of England which she clearly knows well. Oh and don't forget the humour. Lots of it of all kinds.

I loved the wedding scenes with Marlee who really is a chip off the old block, although I am sure she would never admit it. And the final page gave me goose bumps. I could absolutely hear Bunny singing that song. So good and so glad I bought a paper copy. I will certainly read it again in the future.

Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*

EXCERPT: On a dark street the nondescript grey hatchback slithered quietly to a halt beneath a streetlight that was helpfully broken. The car's engine was killed and the driver, almost as anonymous-looking as the Peugeot itself, climbed out and shut the door with a quiet clunk. The passenger door opened and a girl climbed out. The driver waited on the pavement for her to heave her backpack out of the footwell. The colours of the little rainbows had all turned to grey in the dark and the unicorn had been rendered almost invisible. She closed the car door and heard the little 'chirrup' as the man locked it. He went ahead of her, then turned and smiled and said, 'This way, follow me.' He approached a house, the door key ready in his hand. Darcy hesitated for a moment. Something told her that she should run, but she was only thirteen and hadn't learned to listen to her instincts yet, so she slung her backpack over one shoulder and followed the man into the house.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Jackson Brodie, ex-military police, ex-Cambridge Constabulary, currently working as a private investigator, makes a highly anticipated return, nine years after the last Brodie, Started Early, Took My Dog.

Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son and an aging Labrador, both at the discretion of his ex-partner Julia. It’s picturesque, but there’s something darker lurking behind the scenes.

Jackson’s current job, gathering proof of an unfaithful husband for his suspicious wife, is fairly standard-issue, but a chance encounter with a desperate man on a crumbling cliff leads him into a sinister network—and back across the path of his old friend Reggie. Old secrets and new lies intersect in this breathtaking novel by one of the most dazzling and surprising writers at work today.

MY THOUGHTS: Jackson Brodie, I love you. I've missed you, and I am so pleased you're back. And by extension, I also love Kate Atkinson, both for her superb writing skills and her devious mind.

'What does justice have to do with the law?' A good question. Not very much in either real life or Big Sky. But as usual, Jackson manages, more by accident than good planning, to mete out justice more effectively than the law.

I love Atkinson's characters, they jump off the page at you, drag you into their world. Tommy, Andy and Steve are all good reminders that not everyone is what they seem, that we only see what they want us to see. Harry reminds me a little of my grandson....he's young for his age but he's old for his age. Marlee, although she would never admit it, is very like her father.

Big Sky is a comedy of errors, or would be if the subject matter wasn't so grim. But even so, Kate and Jackson had me laughing at times.

A wonderful read, and I hope that we don't have to wait anywhere near as long for the next Jackson Brodie book.


I do recommend starting this series at the beginning, otherwise the relationships between some of the characters will be rather perplexing. ?

THE AUTHOR: Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and she has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since.

She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories, and One Good Turn.

Case Histories introduced her readers to Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, and won the Saltire Book of the Year Award and the Prix Westminster.

When Will There Be Good News? was voted Richard & Judy Book Best Read of the Year. After Case Histories and One Good Turn, it was her third novel to feature the former private detective Jackson Brodie, who makes a welcome return in Started Early, Took My Dog.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Big Sky by Kate Atkinson, published by Transworld, Doubleday. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the 'about' page on for an explanation of my rating system.

This review and others are also published on my webpage


Objectively speaking, as a mystery, Big Sky is not that strong. If written by a different author, a novel with a plot like this would have been a subject of a lengthy rant about too many coincidences and same people constantly bumping into suspects of various crimes.


this is Kate Atkinson, and I am yet to be disappointed or not entertained by her books. Her character work and her wit are impeccable, regardless of what she chooses to write - mysteries, family dramas, Groundhog Day-type experiments, whatever.

Coincidentally, I listened to this novel while observing this piece of shit get arrested again. I hope he gets as much comeuppance as the sex ring monsters in Big Sky.

The best thing about the book was the perspective of a woman who managed to escape the clutches of despicable men just like Jeffrey Epstein. A gold digger with an iron will. My kind of gal.


‘I’m going home.’ Jackson had no idea where Tatiana lived. ‘Home’ sounded far too cosy a word for her. It was easier to imagine her in a forest lair or lying on a tree branch, one eye open even in sleep, ready to swoop on an unsuspecting victim, but no, she was a creature of surprises. ‘Going to have hot chocolate and watch old Marple,’ she said.”

Tatiana is only one of several characters who’ve appeared in previous Case Histories, but even if you didn’t know or (hadn’t remembered) that she was a Russian call-girl with a rather exciting part in One Good Turn, Jackson’s throwaway comment above would let you know how he remembered her.

He is in a seaside town on the east coast, unlike where he grew up, and he’s quite enjoying the change.

“In the part of Yorkshire in which Jackson had been born and bred it had rained every day, all day, since time began, and he had been pleasantly surprised how literally bright and breezy the East Coast could be.”

He’s dividing his time between a case (tracking a philandering husband) and ferrying his thirteen-year-old son, Nathan, and an old dog back and forth to Julia’s, his ex. Atkinson has a wonderful knack of showing Jackson as both a determined, loyal, tough ex-detective and a slightly awkward ex-husband, ex-lover, and father.

His daughter, Marlee (23), is planning to marry a guy Jackson doesn’t like, and Nathan is one of those boys glued to his phone, eye-rolling and bored with the old man. His mother, Julia, is an actress currently filming, so Jackson is taking the opportunity to see something of his son.

His women may have left him in real life, but they are fixed in his mind. He hears them, always ready with a snappy comeback as to why he is ridiculous and hopeless. It’s a clever way for us to see how he weighs things up. But he seems to be moving on – sort of.

“It was bad enough that Julia had long ago taken up occupation in his brain, but to have Tatiana now buzzing around in there as well was an unwelcome development. It gave a whole new meaning to the term ‘inner voice’. At least between them they had managed to eject his first wife, Josie.)”

I’ve neglected the terrific plot, the golfing buddies, their wives, a murder, a dodgy import business, and the investigation being carried out by two tiny, female Detective Constables, Reggie and Ronnie. I remembered Reggie, but again, Atkinson fills in all the blanks so smoothly that it wouldn’t matter if I’d forgotten.

I don’t need to tell any Atkinson readers how many storylines there are and how completely she writes them all. Each could be its own novella – but – they do cross over, in multiple ways. The various characters, some of them couples who are social friends, don’t know as much about each other as we do.

I was especially fond of Crystal, who seems to be a kind of trophy wife for a wealthy businessman and is step-mother to his sixteen-year-old son. He’s Harry, a genuinely nice, smart kid who works at the sleazy Palace Theatre with some colourful old reprobate performers.

I mentioned the murder, but not the stalking, the suspected abduction, the threats, the chickens coming home to roost, as it were. Jackson’s life consists of danger and thrills and saving lives all mixed up with fatherly angst and a longing for something, someone.

I have to say I enjoyed the ending, which, while not leaving him hanging off the edge of a cliff, does leave him thinking about making a move. I hope that means there will be more!


Admittedly, it’s difficult for me to write an unbiased review of a Kate Atkinson novel. When I received this book from NetGalley, I immediately tweeted “she is our greatest living author, don’t @ me”, which – I actually wish someone would “@” me, because I’m more than happy to explain all the ways Atkinson is brilliant (almost terrifying so).

My favourite books of Atkinson’s are Life After Life and A God in Ruins (the latter absolutely shattered me – I think I cried enough to fill oceans), but I do so love her Jackson Brodie series for its sly wit and the river of devastation running beneath its surfaces. Big Sky is a worthy entry into the Brodie lexicon, and her best since Case Histories.

A mystery at its core, with thousands of tiny threads that come together to form a very messy, very real tapestry of human misery and joy and rotten, ruined hopes, Big Sky is about the sex trade, about families and the way they disappoint us, about exploitation and greed, and how where men fall, women rise up.

Brodie is hiding out on the coast, working as a private investigator. It’s the usual stuff – cheating husbands, cheating wives, icky individuals on the Internet, and perhaps a stolen item or two or three. He’s clearly bored, but he’s also clearly enjoying the chance to spend more time with his son Nathan – a stroppy, absolutely delightful teenager – their interactions are such comic gold that I laughed out loud numerous times. Big Sky is inarguably hilarious, in that perfectly dry British way –

She was a self-described Christian, born-again or something like that (once was enough, surely?)

That’s the thing about Kate Atkinson – one minute you’re flinching, the next you’re audibly snorting. It’s a roller coaster.

In true Brodie fashion, our erstwhile detective stumbles upon a human trafficking ring in the sleepy little coastal town, and the tension ratchets up and up, until it seems everything will explode, sending bombs across the sea. What’s singularly arresting about the central mystery is that the crimes go back decades and have such miserable arrows running from their centres – you can only imagine how much pain and suffering has been spread. Some bits made my stomach hurt (“the passion wagon”, “parties”, “the two sisters”, “the disappeared, gone where no flashlights could illuminate”), and it’s a testament to Atkinson’s power that the novel isn’t merely depressing – rather, I put it down with a sense of wounds bandaged by glorious retribution.

Don’t mistake me – the subject matter is raw and the kind of subtle that makes you wish for a novelist with less grace (sometimes, the less graphic things are, the more the imagination fills in the horrifying blanks). But still, it’s there – subterranean but mighty – like a sword or axe or queen – the female. The strength. The eyes meeting. Warrior to warrior. Survivor to survivor.

Where men fall, women rise.

With as much power, as much grit, as the big blue sky.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I appreciate it!

Cathrine ☯️

4✚ ?️‍♂️?️‍♂️?️‍♂️?️‍♂️
About 9 years ago Jackson Brodie went MIA in the book world. His creator came out with some highly rated other books which I could not embrace; actually abandoned two of them. This remains a mystery because Kate Atkinson is a heck of a writer and I was such a fan, am such a fan.
What was my issue?
No clue.
I think I read this in 24 hours. There's a large cast of characters which I was able to hang with because they were compelling and I read straight through to the 30% mark when they were all set in motion and the pages started turning rapidly.
Of course it always enriches a book in a series if you've read the ones that came before but it's not necessary in able to enjoy this one. She weaves previous characters and events into it and they all came back to me but it would be a great standalone too.