Friday, September 2, 2011

Audio Reviews: The Jackson Brodie series by Kate Atkinson

Author: Kate Atkinson
Publisher/Format: BBC Audio America, 10 discs-11 hours, 312 page equivalent
Year of publication: 2008
Narrator: Susan Jameson
Subject: Three different crimes separated by years
Setting: Cambridge,England
Series: Jackson Brodie Mysteries
Genre: mystery- detective fiction
Source: public library

Author: Kate Atkinson
Publisher/Format: BBC Audio America, 12 discs-14 hours, 448 page equivalent
Year of publication: 2006
Narrator: Steven Crossley
Subject: seemingly random unrelated incidents of murder
Setting: Edinburgh Scotland
Series: Jackson Brodie Mysteries
Genre: mystery- detective fiction
Source: public library

This series has a lot to like about it.  I had just gotten the 4th in the series Started Early Took My Dog for our library, and was intrigued by the jacket blurb.  I really dislike starting a series in the middle, so I hunted down the 1st two to see if they might be worthy of including in our collection.  Since I needed some audios to get me through a couple of cooking/sewing projects this summer, these two really met the challenge.  They are intricately plotted, but somewhat hard to follow in the beginning.  In both volumes, Atkinson weaves together a series of seemingly unrelated characters and murders that leave the reader asking "where is this going?" until about half-way through each book.  The head scratching is well worth the wait however because not only do the stories mesh together, along the way we meet a cast of wonderfully eccentric and engaging characters who hold our interest and pull us toward their personal conclusions.

In Case Histories, Jackson becomes involved in a cold case of a missing toddler, another of a dead teenager, and an ax murder.  I don't want to spoil the delicious way Atkinson pulls Brodie through all of these with their reluctant witnesses, missing evidence, etc. so I won't reveal too much more about the story line or characters.  I especially like her borderline risquè sense of humor, her tartly funny remarks emerging from the most unusual characters, and Jackson's seemingly lackluster enthusiasm for some of the rigors of the cases.

In One Good Turn, we see Jackson continuing a relation that was only a glint in the first book, as he follows (somewhat begrudgingly?) his now lady friend to Edinburgh so she can participate in an acting festival.  He whiles away the time that she is in rehearsals by blundering onto a dead body, and then spends the rest of the book walking a tightrope between wanting to be totalling uninvolved in solving the crime, (he's on vacation after all!) and in wanting to take over the investigation completely.  His prickly personality and on-again/off-again motivation makes for a true page turner and some uproarious chuckles.  Again, the reader has to pay attention to be sure not to miss any of the many many clues Atkinson strews throughout, but that concentration is well worth the effort in the end.

Normally, I really enjoy audios, but I'm daring to say these are better read in print at first, unless you have exceptional powers of remembering who is who.  The audios done by BBC America were spot on, and easy to listen to, but I think being able to flip back and forth would be a definite advantage to the first time reader of either of these.  Susan  Jameson and Steven Crossly did a first rate job of bringing these doty characters to life so if you like audio, do give them a try, but maybe with a dog-earred paperback next to you for easy referral.   I don't necessarily see that they have to be read in order either, so my advice is to find any of the four in the series, grab a chair and settle back for a great and fun detective story.

PS...I think I'm going to be adding at least one more of these to our collection at the library.

1 comment:

Welcome, thanks for stopping by. Now that you've heard our two cents, perhaps you have a few pennies to throw into the discussion. Due to a bunch more anonymous spam getting through, I've had to disallow anonymous comments. I try to respond to all comments posing a question, but may not always get to you right away.