This is the second entry in Kate Atkinson's series about sorta-detective Jackson Brodie. For some reason, I liked it better than the first one. There's still plenty of sordid and violent behavior. The characters are a miserable bunch, saddled with guilt, depression, and an number of dead parents, children, spouses, and siblings. Jackson's probably the most likeable of the lot, but even he's kind of a Sad Sack, unhappy even with the small fortune and the girlfriend he (spoiler coming up!) acquired in the previous book.
But he's off to Edinburgh with that actress girlfriend, who's appearing in a local play. And he's one of the bystanding witnesses to an inexplicable display of road rage; the would-be victim is saved by the intervention of a meek author. Whose ouevre is solely pseudonymous cozy mysteries set in the 1930s. Also involved in the (at first seemingly unrelated) plot threads: the wife of a corrupt homebuilder who's had a heart attack while under the ministrations of a Russian hooker; the lady cop who's charged with investigating the various crimes involved, but her son and his buddy have come into possession of … oh, well, that's enough.
Even among all the darkness, there's a considerable amount of hilarity. Ms. Atkinson is fond of providing the stream-of-consciousness for her multiple characters, and they're fond of making acerbic comments on their various plights. ("Squirrels are eating my house," the lady cop observes to Jackson.)