On a peat and heather island off the west coast of Scotland, Effie and her mother Nora take refuge in the large mouldering house of their ancestors and tell each other stories.
Nora, at first, recounts nothing that Effie really wants to hear, like who her father was – variously Jimmy, Jack, or Ernie. Effie tells of her life at college in Dundee, where she lives in a lethargic relationship with Bob, a student who never goes to lectures, seldom gets out of bed, and to whom the Klingons are as real as the French and the Germans (more real than the Luxemburgers).
But strange things are happening. Why is Effie being followed? Why is everyone writing novels? Is someone killing the old people? And where is the mysterious yellow dog?
‘Funny, bold and memorable’ Helen Dunmore, The Times
‘A truly comic novel – achingly funny in parts – challenging and executed with wit and mischief’ Meera Syal, Daily Express
‘Sends jolts of pleasure off the page…Atkinson’s funniest foray yet…it is a work of Dickensian or even Shakespearean plenty’ Scotsman
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Inspector Jack Gannet drove into Saltsea-on-Sea along the coast road. Today’s sun (not that he believed it to be a new one every day) was already climbing merrily in the sky. It was a beautiful morning. Shame it was about to be spoilt by the Lucky Lady and her cargo – one very unlucky lady. One very dead lady. Jack Gannet sighed, this job didn’t get any easier. Jack Gannet had been in the force longer than he cared to remember. He was a straightforward, oldfashioned kind of detective. He had no strange tics or eccentricities – he didn’t do crosswords, he wasn’t Belgian, he certainly wasn’t a woman. He was a man suited to his profession. What he wasn’t, was happy. He didn’t want to be dealing with a dead body on a glorious morning like this. Especially not on an empty stomach.
Madame Astarti didn’t know about the dead body yet. She was having some trouble opening her eyes. They were glued shut by sleep and mascara and one too many gins in The Crab and Bucket last night with Sandra and Brian. Madame Astarti sighed and groped blindly around on her bedside table for her lighter and a packet of Player’s No.6 and inhaled deeply on a cigarette. She loved the smell of nicotine in the morning.
Seagulls were clog-dancing on the roof above her head, heralding a brand new day in Saltsea-on-Sea. Through a gap in the curtains she could see that the sun was the colour of egg-yolks. Sunrise, she thought to herself, a little daily miracle. It would be funny, wouldn’t it, if it didn’t happen one morning? Well, probably not very funny at all really because everything on earth would die. The really big sleep.
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'The lustre, energy and panache of her writing are as striking as ever...Funny, bold and memorable'
'Beautifully written...brimming with quirky characters and original storytelling. Kate Atkinson has struck gold with this unique offering'
'Sends jolts of pleasure off the page...Atkinson's funniest foray yet...it is a work of Dickensian or even Shakespearean plenty'
'Her novels are remarkable both in and of themselves, and as evidence of an important emerging body of work from a brilliant and profoundly original writer'
'With just two novels, Atkinson has added new colour to the British literary landscape'