It all began with a death. Then is when Hope discovers she had been adopted, the day her mother died. Reaching out from down under, she finds private detective Jackson Brodie. Who were her real parents? That is all she wants to know.
Brodie, a former policeman, on his own dark journey, finds kiddies, and so he sets too on a convoluted journey to help this young woman reunite with her past. Wandering tough the mall he inadvertently witnesses a crime involving another child and the two stories collide. The current hunt entangles with the past and with each wave crashing on the beach we are drawn with the smooth ebb and flow as the current pulls us through Leeds in the 70s to the industrial wasteland it has become.
Atkinson superbly builds the plot, plants false hope and innuendo, and leaves us gasping for air as she unfolds the story. Tracy Waterhouse recently retired, built-like-a brick-outhouse, head of security, has not been off the force long enough to let go of the instincts police officers procure after thirty years on the job. When a worthless piece of trash masquerading as a prostitute drags a screaming, bumbling toddler through her mall her ire is raised. In a moment of madness, he buys the child and decides to keep the child. Detective Brodie has picked up his own bag of bones in the form of an abused terrier. The relationships these two characters have missed out on their entire adult lives is gingerly formed with their new companions as their worlds crisscross and the revelations from a past long buried, threaten to interfere with their lives.
With a vein of offbeat black humor, Atkinson keeps the books beat at a high level of anxiety and her character development reminds me of fellow British writer Jim Crace in his urban novel "All That Follows," fair praise indeed. This is the third novel featuring Brodie and I'll be watching for the next one.