I thought the characters, plot, etc. were realistic and very well "painted" by Atkinson. I liked how no one was "all good" or "all bad." Like real-life, I found the people portrayed to be interesting, but also full of surprises (some good, some bad). My only "quibble" with the book was the end felt quite rushed. Having been quite eloquent and verbose, the final chapters seemed to somewhat "fall off, abruptly." But still didn't undermine the book! Woo hoo! Well-done, Kate!
Despite the title and the other reviews, this is not a mystery in any way, so be warned. There is a detective, and he does have clients, but that's about the extent of the mystery-ness of the book. It's more like an Anne Tyler novel with slightly more grisly backstories for the characters. Also, be warned that the characters are uniformly negative in their perspective, with a strong tendency towards passivity, or at least, extensive complaining about their situation. By contrast, a book like
I didn't like moody contemporary novels about people who are unhappy with their lives before listening to this, and I still don't. I suppose it would be more accurate to say this book didn't suddenly fill me with a desire to read more books in this genre.
The best thing about this book is that it served as a valuable reminder to doublecheck reviews on Amazon.com to make sure you know what you're getting before you buy something.
A waste of a credit.
The author spent way too many words revealing the inner ruminations of some of her characters -- particularly two middle-aged sisters, who are very much preoccupied with themselves and their sexuality. I suppose that authors like to present "realistic" characters, but I don't think anyone in the book was particularly honorable or admirable.
I am always slightly puzzled by the mixed reviews on various books, and realize that everyone has different tastes. Having said that. however, I am a loss to understand why this book did not captivate everyone who read it. As other reviewers have stated, the structure of the book is ingenious. The characters are fascinating, and the ending has some surprises. Jackson Brody is not a typical hero, and the people who populate the book are eccentric and unpredictable. The narrator was flawless, and I was disappointed to discover that she only narrates one other Kate Atkinson book, and that only five of her books are even available on audio. One of them (the next book in this series) is only available in an abridged form. I've already bought the book in print form (well, actually for my Kindle - so Amazon gets my money in either case) and will hope for more Kate Atkinson books on audio, hopefully read by Susan Jameson.
I really enjoy the accent used by the narrator for the characters, I could see myself in Cambridge. The unspoken thoughts were funny. I love the way each case intertwined with the other.
I'll start with the positive -- on a sentence-by-sentence level, Atkinson is a solid writer. Nothing particularly spectacular, but nothing wince-worthy either.
Unfortunately, at any higher level than that, this book is awful.
* There are coincidences at a level to make Dickens blush.
* There are plot points that come out of nowhere (Brody's inheritance, for example).
* There are wild events that are more appropriate to a Tom Clancy novel or a Roadrunner cartoon (does anybody except Wile E. Coyote attempt to kill someone by dynamiting his house?)
* The detective does virtually no detecting -- probably just as well, because by the time the third case comes his way, we're almost 2/3 through the novel. One of the cases is solved by one phone-call.
* The stories are resolved with the kind of magical wand-waving that I associate with Victorian literature, not modern serious writing.
I was pre-disposed to give this novel a lot of leeway -- as I wrote above, Atkinson's writing is very solid, which is a nice thing. But I just don't even begin to understand the glowing reviews this book is getting.
There was an excess of rambling text that contributed almost nothing to the plot. In a nutshell, it was quite boring.
Won't be this author.
This book was all over the place. Did not enjoy.
Probably in the top 20% -- not the absolute greatest, but kept my attention.
She does a good job writing about relationships, so I'd probably try her again.
Nothing really stands out, which would be my only criticism of the book. With so many stories, sometimes it was hard to figure out who was speaking. It was particularly difficult to determine the time period, as there was a lot of movement.
The speaker was fabulous with accents and voices.
read all of her books they keep you laughing out loud, weeping, inappropriately , and mostly feel like you are there great characters ,