If Goodreads ever implements a half-star system, this one gets bumped up. I liked it quite a bit, and I'm not usually much one for mysteries and thrillers. But it's a mystery/thriller in only the loosest terms; Atkinson obviously prefers to focus on her characters first. That's not to say the plot is an afterthought -- it manages to weave together three or four stories of tragic death over the course of several decades, and does it rather well, even if, in the end, the answers aren't wholly satisfying.It is, most surprisingly, a very funny book (very British), with likeable and amusing characters, but Atkinson seems a bit nervous about backgrounding the mystery angle to the point where she decides to put in another layer of confusion by mucking about with time. Now, mind you, this is already a book in which the detective, Jackson Brodie, is looking into three cold cases from the 1970s, '80s and '90s, cases we are introduced to with chapters set in those time periods. Then we explore "present day" via alternating chapters from the limited POV of Brodie and various characters involved in each cold case. With so many time frames and characters, it was already confusing enough. But the chronology is all funny, so we'll see one character reacting to Jackson looking all beat up, only to see how he got beat up 20 pages later. Toward the end, it gets even worse, breaking up the order of events even within a single chapter/POV. Rather than adding to the fun, this aspect made the book a little hard to read, which is probably why it took me a lot longer than a short book like this usually would.