The scene is set in Cambridge, with three case histories from the past: A young child who mysteriously disappeared from a tent in her back garden; An unidentified man in a yellow jumper who marched into an office and slashed a young girl through the throat; and a young woman found by the police sitting in her kitchen next to the body of her husband, an axe buried in his head. Jackson Brodie, a private investigator and former police detective, is quietly contemplating life as a divorced father when he is flung into the midst of these resurrected old crimes. Julia and Amelia Land, long having given up hope of uncovering the truth of what happened to their baby sister, Olivia, suddenly discover her lost toy mouse in the study of their recently-deceased father. Enlisting Jackson's help they embroil him in the complexities of their own jealousies, obsessions and lust. A woman named Shirley needs Jackson to help find her lost niece. Amidst the incessant demands of the Land sisters, Jackson meets solicitor Theo Wyre whose daughter, Laura, was murdered in his office and, now that the police case has been closed, is desperate for Jackson to help him lay Laura's ghost to rest.
As he starts his investigations Jackson has the sinister feeling that someone is following him. As he begins to unearth secrets that have remained hidden for many years, he is assailed by his former wife's plan to take his young daughter away to live in New Zealand, and his stalker becomes increasingly malevolent and dangerous. In digging into the past Jackson seems to have unwittingly threatened his own future.This wonderfully crafted, intricately plotted novel is heartbreaking, uplifting, full of suspense and often very funny, and shows Kate Atkinson returning to the literary scene at the height of her powers.
Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. She has won several prizes for her short stories. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread First Novel Award and was then chosen as the overall 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year. Her critically acclaimed second and third novels, Human Croquet and Emotionally Weird are also published by Black Swan as is her collection of short stories, Not the End of the World.