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The review description "existential detective" would probably help guide those who want to read a straightforward mystery that sets out a problem, gathers clues, and reaches a solution away from this book. Atkinson's writing is more like setting up a 1000 piece puzzle, where you find the corners and edges, fill in odd bits of the picture, and finally the bits begin to coalesce into the whole picture. The solutions, and there are many, may not be the satisfying good overcomes evil that readers have come to expect; but they are more like life, where things are not always what they seem, and you don't always get what you want. The two women detectives and Jackson interact with the various parts of the picture, which seem disjointed at first, like the bit actors in a play that have something going on at the back of the stage, while the main story line is going on in the footlights. By the end you realize how those extra pieces flesh out the story and motivate the main characters. If you enjoyed this book, try Edmund Crispin.

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