Kate Atkinson has been off writing fantastic standalone so readers haven’t seen Jackson Brodie in a decade. She brings him back in Big Sky, and it’s a pleasure to be in his company again, self-deprecation thoughts and all.

Now working as a private investigator after relocating to the east coast of Yorkshire, near Whitby, Jackson is trying to make headway with a summer spent with his teenaged son, Nathan, while the boy’s mother, actress Julia, films her television show nearby.

On the PI front, he’s proving a husband’s infidelity, which seems vastly easy to do. But it’s the sly humor and the imagined voices that Brodie hears that has always set this series apart and Auntie M was happy to see that intact, despite the dark plot revolving around sex trafficking and child abuse.

That plot emerges when Brodie is hired by Crystal Holroyd, a trophy wife who feels she’s being followed. With her own young daughter and a teenaged stepson in tow, Crystal is a unique and engaging character, despite her surgical enhancements. She’s also the victim of a pedophile ring from the past she’s keep running away from.

That cold case is being investigated by a pair of female officers, one of whom saved Brodie’s life in an earlier novel. Their investigations start to cross lines, bringing home Brodie’s adage that “if you get enough coincidences, they add up to a probability.” And there are plenty of coincidences, coupled with characters from previous novels, and a sense that Brodie is having this happen to him while poking at the tenets and conventions of detective novels.

Jackson still has that depressive thread that runs through him due to the absurdity of life in general, he thinks, balanced by his fondness for quoting country music lyrics just when he needs them. There are plenty of pages where the character’s and their mundane lives take center stage, filled with little details that breed familiarity; and bigger scenes where the evil men make is justified in unbelievable ways.

It all adds up to a book that is unconventional yet satisfying, and that’s just the way we like our Brodie’s to be.