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The first book in Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie Mysteries series, called "The best mystery of the decade" by Stephen King, finds private investigator Jackson Brodie following three seemingly unconnected family mysteries in Cambridge. Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night. Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac's apparently random at The first book in Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie Mysteries series, called "The best mystery of the decade" by Stephen King, finds private investigator Jackson Brodie following three seemingly unconnected family mysteries in Cambridge. Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night. Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac's apparently random attack. Case three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making - with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband - until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape. Thirty years after the first incident, as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge . . .


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The first book in Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie Mysteries series, called "The best mystery of the decade" by Stephen King, finds private investigator Jackson Brodie following three seemingly unconnected family mysteries in Cambridge. Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night. Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac's apparently random at The first book in Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie Mysteries series, called "The best mystery of the decade" by Stephen King, finds private investigator Jackson Brodie following three seemingly unconnected family mysteries in Cambridge. Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night. Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac's apparently random attack. Case three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making - with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband - until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape. Thirty years after the first incident, as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge . . .

30 review for Case Histories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jaline

    I wasn’t sure what to expect from Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series. I have read three of her other novels, and as I said in one of my reviews, if I could be an author, I would want to be Kate Atkinson – or, at the very least, be able to write with her vast toolbox of skills and imagination. This novel, the first of the series, is indeed about ‘case histories’. Jackson Brodie had a rough personal life in ways that are gradually revealed throughout this novel. Professionally, he was in the arm I wasn’t sure what to expect from Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series. I have read three of her other novels, and as I said in one of my reviews, if I could be an author, I would want to be Kate Atkinson – or, at the very least, be able to write with her vast toolbox of skills and imagination. This novel, the first of the series, is indeed about ‘case histories’. Jackson Brodie had a rough personal life in ways that are gradually revealed throughout this novel. Professionally, he was in the army, then he joined the police force. Now, at the age of 45, he is a private investigator – and suddenly he has 3 cases to solve. There is a chapter dedicated to each case history, but they were not written from Jackson Brodie’s notes. Cleverly, Kate Atkinson drew me in immediately by having each case study narrated by people directly involved. This gave a backdrop to the story that was cleverly done – it was so visceral and real from the start. Subsequent chapters are narrated by Jackson Brodie himself as well as some of the people we met in the case histories. There are small time shifts throughout, and where this could have been a distraction in the hands of a less accomplished writer, Kate Atkinson utilizes this to give us added perspective. As we all know, two or more people can experience the exact same thing, yet their interpretation of it can be separated by the length of an Olympic size swimming pool – or more. By observing the same situation through more than one set of eyes, I felt that I was somewhat closer to the truth of what happened, as truth loves to flutter its wings both to clarify and mystify. Novels gave you a completely false idea about life, they told lies and they implied there were endings when in reality there were no endings, everything just went on and on and on. Although this novel is far from a comedy, there were times when I was literally laughing out loud. The characters in this novel have unique perspectives on their lives and the lives of their friends and family. Some are witty and some sarcastic, while others, like Jackson Brodie himself, have a self-deprecating sense of humour that has its own particular bite. When the various threads of Jackson Brodie’s cases start to pull together, some force comes along and blows them apart. Yet, thread by thread and bit by bit, Jackson does resolve at least two of the cases. Of the third, we are led to draw a very solid conclusion without it being stated. Because you couldn’t make time, she’d been deluded about that. Time was a thief, he stole your life away from you and the only way you could get it back was to outwit him and snatch it back. By taking the time to read this novel, I felt richly rewarded. At this point, I don’t have the luxury of time to spend on novels that don’t enrich my life in some way. This one accomplished that purpose with both finesse and intensity. I loved it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kinga

    This should actually get two stars only but me and Kate Atkinson go way back. I read her 'Behind the Scenes in the Museum' when I was a newbie to the grown-up literature and I loved it. I am quite afraid to go and revisit it now because after reading 'Case Histories' I am not sure if Atkinson can actually write. This is some sort of psychological drama/crime story, so you don't expect the writing to knock you of your feet. However, quite often I read that Atkinson writes 'literary crime fiction' This should actually get two stars only but me and Kate Atkinson go way back. I read her 'Behind the Scenes in the Museum' when I was a newbie to the grown-up literature and I loved it. I am quite afraid to go and revisit it now because after reading 'Case Histories' I am not sure if Atkinson can actually write. This is some sort of psychological drama/crime story, so you don't expect the writing to knock you of your feet. However, quite often I read that Atkinson writes 'literary crime fiction' and that is an overstatement at best. And if it isn't an overstatement, then I really don't want to read the non-literary crime fiction. The main character is Jackson, private detective who is trying to resolve 3 or 4 different cases at the same time. There are constant changes of POV and we are stuck in the characters' heads and informed about their every little thought. I think there are way better ways to create a character than to drown the reader in their never ending stream of consciousness. I will give you an example: "The language students all seemed to be dressed in combats, in khaki and comouflage, as if there were a war going on and they were the troops (God help us if that were the case). And the bikes, why did people think bikes were a good thing? Why were cyclists so smug? Why did cyclists ride on pavements when there were perfectly good cycle lanes? And who thought it was a good idea to rent bicycles to Italian adolescent language students? If hell did exist, which Jackson was sure it did, it would be governed by a committee of fifteen-year-old Italian boys on bikes." Well, if hell does exists, I am sure it is filled with books full of hackneyed inner rants. Also, is it me, or is something seriously grammatically wrong with the last sentence I quoted? "Shirley was wearing blue surgical scrubs. Jackson didn't think there was anything much sexier than the sight of a woman in surgical scrubs and wondered if he was alone in thinking that or if most guys did. There should be opinion polls on these things." Opinion polls, what? Why am I reading this? Let's just say that if I wrote anything like the paragraph above my creative writing teacher/consultant would rip me to pieces and tell me to take up knitting. Another thing that annoyed me was a very lazy presentation of the backstory of each 'case'. We are quickly presented with a bunch of stereotypical characters summarised in a couple of sentences so we are left with no doubt as to how we are supposed to feel about them. There were too many subplots that were random and served only as breaking points for another subplots. I only managed to muster enough of enthusiasm to care about one of the 'cases'. There was as well a lot of build-up that promised you God-knows-what but the resolution fell flat on its tits. Actually, f that, I am changing it to two stars.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    This is the first in Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series, and is a reread for me. I first read this many years ago and I still harboured dim and distant, vaguely unsatisfying, memories of the book, this time I found it a much better experience, the cold case mysteries slotted together with greater ease on a second reading. One of the mysteries, of course, is Jackson himself, a retired ex-cop, with an ex-wife, and a daughter that lives with her mother, and now working as a PI. He unravels murde This is the first in Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series, and is a reread for me. I first read this many years ago and I still harboured dim and distant, vaguely unsatisfying, memories of the book, this time I found it a much better experience, the cold case mysteries slotted together with greater ease on a second reading. One of the mysteries, of course, is Jackson himself, a retired ex-cop, with an ex-wife, and a daughter that lives with her mother, and now working as a PI. He unravels murders that took place long ago, the seemingly disparate cases, interwoven in a narrative that goes back and forth in time, turn out to have connections. Atkinson gives us nuanced, understated and well constructed storytelling, beautifully written, with rich descriptions of characters, marked by their sheer ordinariness and everyday routines, lives that become extraordinary with the impact of death, brutal violence and the terrifying. There are numerous apparently irrelevant digressions, but which turn out to be anything but. A wonderfully immersive and offbeat read, riddled with black and wry humour. Thanks to Random House Transworld.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    I first read this many years ago and although I know I enjoyed it very much I could not remember any details at all. It all came back very quickly once I started reading. Case Histories is a very apt title as the book starts with three very different cold cases, each apparently independent of the others. As the book progresses the wonderful Jackson Brodie appears and in his hands it turns out the cases are not completely separate after all. Brodie is an excellent character who gets by despite lif I first read this many years ago and although I know I enjoyed it very much I could not remember any details at all. It all came back very quickly once I started reading. Case Histories is a very apt title as the book starts with three very different cold cases, each apparently independent of the others. As the book progresses the wonderful Jackson Brodie appears and in his hands it turns out the cases are not completely separate after all. Brodie is an excellent character who gets by despite life throwing endless obstacles in his path. I enjoyed the way the book ends with the author summarising each of the cold cases and letting the reader know the real truth about each one. One of them in particular gave me quite a shock, and left me unsure whether Jackson Brodie himself was aware of all the details of the crime. Kate Atkinson always writes so well that her books are a pleasure to read. Onwards now to book 2 because I can never have too much Jackson Brodie.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Case Histories- Jackson Brodie # 1- by Kate Atkinson is a 2007 Little, Brown and Co. publication. Jackson Brodie, private detective, has an interesting case load: A father looking for the man who viciously murdered his daughter, an elderly lady with so many cats, Jackson must help her look for them, a pair of eccentric sisters looking for the truth about their missing sister, and the sister of an ax murderer is looking for her runaway niece. The cases are ones where a client wished to investigat Case Histories- Jackson Brodie # 1- by Kate Atkinson is a 2007 Little, Brown and Co. publication. Jackson Brodie, private detective, has an interesting case load: A father looking for the man who viciously murdered his daughter, an elderly lady with so many cats, Jackson must help her look for them, a pair of eccentric sisters looking for the truth about their missing sister, and the sister of an ax murderer is looking for her runaway niece. The cases are ones where a client wished to investigate privately, or the investigations by traditional law enforcement, went cold. The history of each case is detailed, with one or two more fleshed out than the others. The main story involves the case of Julia and Amelia's young sister, many years ago. After their father passed way, they discover shocking evidence which prompts them to seek Jackson’s professional help. However, the cases, and the lives of those involved, are interconnected, often in the smallest and most unique ways. I love British mysteries, so this one appealed to me right away. Jackson Brodie is hilarious on occasion and I loved his inner monologues. The cases are compelling and very interesting, plus the author did a very good job of connecting the characters and cases in ways they may not be entirely aware of. As a ‘first in a series’ book, I thought things got off to a good start. Sure, the personal life of Amelia was slightly overdone and carried on a bit too long, but other than that, I enjoyed the mystery and the way the cases came together. I am already looking forward to Jackson Brodie’s next big adventure. 3.5 stars

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This is one of the best detective novels I have read in a really long time. Set mostly in Cambridge, England, it's the story of a private detective as he tries to solve three cold cases (I mean, REALLY cold - the most recent crime is still 10 years old) as they all interweave and mix in with personal life. In theory, the plot is nothing special; some missing persons and murder cases, and the details are revealed as the story develops, and the detective's personal life is a mess and someone is tr This is one of the best detective novels I have read in a really long time. Set mostly in Cambridge, England, it's the story of a private detective as he tries to solve three cold cases (I mean, REALLY cold - the most recent crime is still 10 years old) as they all interweave and mix in with personal life. In theory, the plot is nothing special; some missing persons and murder cases, and the details are revealed as the story develops, and the detective's personal life is a mess and someone is trying to kill him. What made this book exceptional was Atkinson's writing ability. Her style is not your run-of-the-mill airport paperback simple prose and dialogue. She has a gorgeous, intimate writing style, pulling you into the personal stories of the living people in the book, and then nonchalantly throwing in the "crime drama" stuff as an afterthought. I loved this book, and I'll be looking for her next book, which apparently was published in 2006.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Annet

    Well, I finally finished this one. It's hard when you have so little time to read. In the beginning I thought the story was a bit slow and I couldn't get in the story very well, but I guess that's more my own problem, reading no more than a few pages each day, having to read back all the time to get into the story again. The last days I spent time with this book and found the interwoven stories quite special as well as the way it all comes together. I love Jackson. And the stories and characters Well, I finally finished this one. It's hard when you have so little time to read. In the beginning I thought the story was a bit slow and I couldn't get in the story very well, but I guess that's more my own problem, reading no more than a few pages each day, having to read back all the time to get into the story again. The last days I spent time with this book and found the interwoven stories quite special as well as the way it all comes together. I love Jackson. And the stories and characters are weird, special, interesting. So in the end, it's a 3.5 to 4 stars book for me and I will have more time hopefully to read the next books of Kate Atkinson.

  8. 5 out of 5

    PattyMacDotComma

    4.5★ “Right up until the end Victor’s mind had been as methodical as an efficient library, whereas Amelia felt that hers was more like the cupboard under the stair where ancient hockey sticks were shoved in beside broken hoovers and boxes of old Christmas decorations, and the one thing you knew was in there – a 5-amp fuse, a tin of tan shoe polish, a Philips screwdriver – would almost certainly be the one thing you couldn’t lay your hands on”. Kate Atkinson has a satisfying knack of presenting a 4.5★ “Right up until the end Victor’s mind had been as methodical as an efficient library, whereas Amelia felt that hers was more like the cupboard under the stair where ancient hockey sticks were shoved in beside broken hoovers and boxes of old Christmas decorations, and the one thing you knew was in there – a 5-amp fuse, a tin of tan shoe polish, a Philips screwdriver – would almost certainly be the one thing you couldn’t lay your hands on”. Kate Atkinson has a satisfying knack of presenting a character in a sentence and a lifetime in a paragraph. Victor was Amelia’s mathematician father, and he gets his own sentences and paragraphs, too. There are a few separate case histories here, all set in Cambridge, where Jackson Brodie is living unhappily (ever after? we hope not). He’s a former soldier, former cop, now a private investigator with an ex-wife he still loves (but she’s got a new fella), and an 8-year old daughter he adores (who likes Mum’s new fella – ARGH$#!) but who is easily bought off with hot chips, soft drinks, and biscuits. She tags along to some unscheduled interviews. The cases are all actually cold, and it seems unlikely that Jackson is going to turn up anything new after decades. But two things stand out: he needs the work, and rough as he can be, he’s a soft touch for a person in pain. Missing daughters and sisters is a very tender spot for him that he doesn’t like to poke too much. A toddler disappeared many years ago after camping in the backyard with her sister. A father is still devastated after losing a teen daughter. And a woman is searching for her sister, who was not a happy housewife and new mother. Rather she loathed her husband, to this extent at one point. “. . . wishing she had the woodcutting axe with her, the axe that would split his skull like a melon or a pumpkin cleaved in two. No, not a melon, melons were sweet and exotic, not pedestrian enough for his head, and pumpkins were vegetables that belonged in fairy tales. A turnip. Turnips were brutal, yokel vegetables. And he would drop like a headless scarecrow, right here in the field, and sink into the soil and never be seen again . . .” I do enjoy Atkinson’s turn of phrase. Another twisted example: “And she wanted flowers, beautiful scented flowers, roses and honeysuckle and lilies – pure white lilies, the kind you would give to a bride or a corpse.” Meanwhile, Jackson daydreams about retiring to France rather than splitting skulls. He collects brochures and compares weather reports, but people need him here, both to solve their mysteries and help them learn to cope. “Yet despite everything he’d seen and done, inside Jackson there remained a belief – a small, battered and bruised belief – that his job was to help people be good rather than punish them for being bad.” Atkinson moves us between the various stories, which are never confused or confusing, and don’t appear connected. As he learns their histories, he becomes ever more acutely aware of Marlee’s vulnerability. How to keep her safe? She’s already wearing little bare-midriff tops and dressing like a tart (according to his dad-radar). Atkinson has a good sense of humour, and seems to relish watching characters squirm. This is Amelia (of the cluttered brain) with sister Julia. Julia is a sexy, theatrical show-off while Amelia is a rumpled, dowdier spinster. “Julia started sneezing again. It was always embarrassing when Julia had a sneezing fit, one after the other, explosive, uncontrollable sounds, like a cannon firing. Amelia had once heard someone say that you could tell what a woman’s orgasm would be like if you heard her sneeze. (As if you would want to know.) Just recollecting this thought made her uncomfortable. In case this was common knowledge, Amelia had made a point ever since then of never sneezing in public if she could help it.” Jackson handles his clients, Marlee, and his ex, all while suffering a raging toothache and headache after being bludgeoned in an attack on his life. All in a day’s work. “Jackson’s painkillers were wearing off. He would have liked to take his head off and give it a rest.” A very satisfying re-read. Atkinson manages to leave us feeling we’ve seen the solutions while still leaving a little to the imagination. Loose ends dangling tantalisingly within reach. Love it! On to One Good Turn. I’m re-reading because there’s a new one out, so I thought I’d catch up again. I didn’t expect it to be so much fun, but that’s the joy of reading a good writer where everything doesn’t hinge on plot points, but on the people as well. I just read that there's an abridged audio version narrated by Jason Isaacs, who plays Jackson Brodie in the TV series. Photo of Jason Isaacs as Jackson Brodie ====== My review in Sept 2013 What a delight to find a new favourite author. She is literate and literary without being pretentious, and her revelations were at just the right pace to keep me guessing and turning pages. I did find myself wishing I knew more about what happened to some of the loose ends, but they weren't important. I was particularly aware of Stephen King's comment that he read it first for fun and then again to see how she did it, so I really tried to be aware of clues. But I found myself leafing back through the early pages when I was finished anyway. I like world-weary Jackson Brodie and look forward to following his cases.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    I'm less enthusiastic about this book than Nikki. I certainly enjoyed the author's wry humor; her characters were both thoroughly imagined and presented with great empathy; and her detective was unique. I also appreciate authors trying to stretch the mystery genre and find ways to alter its railroad-track kind of plotting. All to the good. But her attempt at plot manipulation was confusing at first and eventually just annoying. She told three (or four, depending on how you count) different murde I'm less enthusiastic about this book than Nikki. I certainly enjoyed the author's wry humor; her characters were both thoroughly imagined and presented with great empathy; and her detective was unique. I also appreciate authors trying to stretch the mystery genre and find ways to alter its railroad-track kind of plotting. All to the good. But her attempt at plot manipulation was confusing at first and eventually just annoying. She told three (or four, depending on how you count) different murder stories, skipping from one to the other without immediately apparent reason. That I could handle; but she also skipped around chronologically in each story, and that was one step too complicated for me. If there had been some emotional payoff for such manipulation, or even a brilliant denouement in which everything from all the plots became clear at once, I could have been more enthusiastic. But there appeared (to me, at least) no particular reason for developing the stories this way, other than simply to do it. I found myself grasping at characters and trying to remember who they were when a plot point would be raised and then not returned to for fifty pages. And it didn't help when one female character whose first husband was named Jessop but who had now remarried, was referred to as Kim Strachan, nee Jessop. In a "normally" plotted book I would have skipped over a mistake like this, but here I was just barely hanging on to characters by my fingernails, and I had to search back to reassure myself that she had indeed been Jessop's wife, not his sister or daughter. This book is about survivors learning to cope with the deaths of loved ones. It does that very well; but shoehorning that into a form that calls for detection and (presumably) punishment left me pretty unsatisfied.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    I really, really disliked this book. I was ready to put it down by page 20, but slogged on. If this was supposed to be a "literary thriller," it failed miserably on both accounts. On top of Atkinson's cliched writing style, there were multitudes of plot strands that were ridiculously and not credibly interwoven; many parents (again, not credibly) indifferent to their children; a toll of murder, death, attempted murder, rape, and sexual abuse that had risen almost too high to count by the end (gr I really, really disliked this book. I was ready to put it down by page 20, but slogged on. If this was supposed to be a "literary thriller," it failed miserably on both accounts. On top of Atkinson's cliched writing style, there were multitudes of plot strands that were ridiculously and not credibly interwoven; many parents (again, not credibly) indifferent to their children; a toll of murder, death, attempted murder, rape, and sexual abuse that had risen almost too high to count by the end (gratuitous would not be overstating it); facile quirkiness and dysfunctionality that was supposed to pass for richness of characterization; endless plot twists large and small, and character shifts, that felt more like being jerked around. A self-loathing, nearly virginal spinster joins a nudist group and becomes an orgasmic lesbian. The PI hired to solve these cold cases, whom we're asked to believe is a doting father, has an 8-year old daughter who wears a t-shirt inscribed "So Many Boys, So Little Time" and he doesn't make her change it. Only one character was remotely likable, the fat (as we are told endlessly) hapless Theo, and really only because he was so pitiable. I think we're supposed to find the story whimsical and eccentric, but ultimately it's disgusting, malevolent, yet completely banal.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    What a joy it is to not only discover an author I haven't read before, but to read a book which I did not want to put down! That is the effect that this novel had on me. As a long-time reader of crime fiction, it is also a joy to read such a literate and character-driven mystery, which does not fit neatly into any particular crime fiction sub-genre. While crimes are committed and a detective is there to solve them, neither the crimes themselves nor their resolution are what makes the novel live What a joy it is to not only discover an author I haven't read before, but to read a book which I did not want to put down! That is the effect that this novel had on me. As a long-time reader of crime fiction, it is also a joy to read such a literate and character-driven mystery, which does not fit neatly into any particular crime fiction sub-genre. While crimes are committed and a detective is there to solve them, neither the crimes themselves nor their resolution are what makes the novel live and breathe. For me, this is primarily a novel about relationships: in particular the relationships between siblings and those between parents and children. Atkinson describes warm, loving relationships, relationships made brittle by loss and fear, and relationships destroyed by time and circumstance. The theme of "lost girls" is explicitly raised and reiterated within the narrative: a much loved youngest sister is missing, an adored daughter is murdered, another daughter is lost. These are the seemingly random but ultimately inter-connected cases investigated (or not) by Atkinson's detective protagonist, Jackson Brodie. However, Brodie does not stand apart from the victims: his relationship with his daughter and his siblings is woven into and becomes part of the overall story arc. There is so much I love about this novel. The characters themselves are wonderfully brought to life. The narrative technique, with its shifts in point of view and time, its folding back on itself as parts of the story intersect with other parts is clever, but not annoyingly so. While the narrative does rely on coincidence, in the context of this novel that felt okay. Actually, not just okay, but right, because all readers have experienced random coincidences which come from nowhere and yet profoundly affect their lives. The language is clear and crisp. There is suspense (I wouldn't have read the novel in two sittings had this not been the case!) and there is emotion. I laughed and I cried and from time to time I even gasped. As a reader I can't really ask for much more than that. If this novel is an example of the general calibre of Kate Atkinson's writing, then I'm really looking forward to reading more. Highly recommended for readers who like character-driven narratives and who don't need their crime fiction to slot neatly into a particular genre.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ines

    Here I am, I have just finished the book and I find myself baffled and surprised by what I have read.... I want to start immediately with my review "ugly, dirty and mean" but this time I try to hold back and explain better why this book does not stand and it is a shadow of something else. The supporting plot that is presented at the beginning is definitely intriguing, you are thrown the right amount of curiosity to go on reading and understand what happened to little Olivia... and it is right here Here I am, I have just finished the book and I find myself baffled and surprised by what I have read.... I want to start immediately with my review "ugly, dirty and mean" but this time I try to hold back and explain better why this book does not stand and it is a shadow of something else. The supporting plot that is presented at the beginning is definitely intriguing, you are thrown the right amount of curiosity to go on reading and understand what happened to little Olivia... and it is right here, after the presentation of Olivia's family, that are presented slowly, always on more' different time plans, the various cases... Unfortunately, the technique of short and broken locutions cannot be used with master or skill by Atkinson, but they create, in my opinion, a kind of confusing, hasty or even neurotic writing. Yes, just so, because the characters that are presented are a concentration of cases as from "psychopathology of everyday life encyclopedia" if not even practically psychiatric... Amelia, Julia and Michelle... In the daily life of these people, who are presented little by little ... .. also starting from the family of jackson himself, there is a daily amoral experience, pathological relationships and wickedness that end up preventing you from creating a "affection" for them... The only character who ultimately saved himself from this life based on the satisfaction of immediate impulses is Theo, with his tragedy in Laura’s death, perhaps the only one, despite the messy life that manages in some way, to create a relationship of "good", a little 'healthier than the "masnada"(gang in italian dialect) of the other characters. Theo is also the only character, in my opinion, to save himself from the utter despair of parental incapacity that reigns as queen in this book..... not only in the desperate cases that will be presented, but just as "modus vivendi", the basis of all this macrocosm presented by Atkinson... Atkinson’s ability to create suspense is noexistent, zero, so you should know right away... the end is thrown to you like an appetizer arrived late at your table in the restaurant... An embarrassing ending, especially because the joints of the stories do not hold, they are so thin and in a logical way, unsustainable... in Italian you have to say " Che cazz!?!" in English perhaps less vulgar......" What!? (sorry for my terrible english!) Eccomi, ho appena finito il libro e mi ritrovo sconcertata e sorpresa da quello che ho letto..... mi viene da partire subito con la mia recensione "brutta,sporca e cattiva" ma questa volta cerco di trattenermi e di spiegare meglio perchè questo libro non si regge in piedi ed è un' ombra di qualcos'altro. La trama portante che ci viene presentata all'inizio è sicuramente intrigante, ti viene lanciata la dose giusta di curiosità per andare avanti nella lettura e capire che fine abbia fatto la piccola Olivia... ed è proprio qui, dopo la presentazione della famiglia di Olivia, che vengono pian piano presentati, sempre su piu' piani temporali differenti, i vari casi... Purtroppo la tecnica degli incisi corti e spezzati non riescono ad essere usati con maestria dalla Atkinson, ma creano a mio avviso, una sorta di scrittura confusionaria, frettolosa se non addirittura nevrotica. Si, proprio così, perchè i personaggi che via via vengono presentati sono un concentrato di casi da "Psicopatologia della vita quotidiana" se non addirittura praticamente psichiatrici.... Amelia e Julia e Michelle/Shirley... Nella vita quotidiana di queste persone, che man mano vengono presentate... ma anche a partire dalla famiglia di jackson stesso, vi è un quotidiano di vissuto amorale, relazioni patologiche e cattiverie a non finire che ti impediscono di creare un "affetto" nei loro confronti.... l'unico personaggio che alla fin fine si è salvato da questa vita basata sulla soddisfazione di impulsi immediati è Theo con la sua tragedia nella morte di Laura, forse l'unico, nonostante la vita incasinatissima che riesce in qualche modo a creare una relazione di "bene" un filino piu' sana della masnada degli altri personaggi. Theo è anche l'unico personaggio, secondo me, a salvarsi dalla totale disperazione di incapacità genitoriale che regna regina in questo libro..... non solo nei casi disperati che verranno presentati, ma proprio come "modus vivendi" ormai di base di tutto questo macrosmo presentato dalla Atkinson... La capacità della Atckinson di creare suspenze è pari a zero, quindi sappiatelo già da subito......la soluzione dei casi non arriva pian piano tramite indizi dipanati con saggezza nella trama, no, ti vengono schiaffati, buttati come un antipasto arrivato in ritardo in ristorante.... Un finale imbarazzante, soprattutto perchè gli incastri delle storie non reggono, sono così labili e al livello logico insostenibili... che in italiano ti viene da dire " che cazz!??" in inglese forse meno volgare......"What!?".

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*

    EXCERPT: Rosemary married their father Victor when she was eighteen years old - only five years older than Sylvia was now. The idea that Sylvia might be grown up enough in five years time to marry anyone struck Rosemary as ridiculous and reinforced her belief that her own parents should have stepped in and stopped her marrying Victor, should have pointed out that she was a mere child and he was a thirty-six year old man. She often found herself wanting to remonstrate with her mother and father a EXCERPT: Rosemary married their father Victor when she was eighteen years old - only five years older than Sylvia was now. The idea that Sylvia might be grown up enough in five years time to marry anyone struck Rosemary as ridiculous and reinforced her belief that her own parents should have stepped in and stopped her marrying Victor, should have pointed out that she was a mere child and he was a thirty-six year old man. She often found herself wanting to remonstrate with her mother and father about their lack of parental care, but her mother had succumbed to stomach cancer not long after Amelia was born, and her father had remarried and moved to Ipswich, where he spent most of his days in the bookies, and all of his evenings in the pub. If, in five years time, Sylvia brought home a thirty-six year old cradle snatching fiance (particularly if he claimed to be a great mathematician) then Rosemary thought she would probably cut his heart out with the carving knife. This thought was so agreeable that the afterthought's annunciation was temporarily forgotten and Rosemary allowed them all to run out to the ice-cream van when it declared its own melodic arrival in the street. ABOUT THIS BOOK: The first book in Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie Mysteries series, called "The best mystery of the decade" by Stephen King, finds private investigator Jackson Brodie following three seemingly unconnected family mysteries in Edinburgh Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night. Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac's apparently random attack. Case three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making - with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband - until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape. Thirty years after the first incident, as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge . . . MY THOUGHTS: If I remember rightly, Case Histories was my first introduction to both Kate Atkinson and Jackson Brodie, and the start of an ongoing love affair with both. Atkinson has the ability to see into the dark corners of our minds, to take those unvoiced thoughts, those petty resentments and jealousies, and to craft great stories from them. She is a storyteller. And Jackson Brodie? Originally from Yorkshire, he is a private investigator who makes his money investigating infidelities and finding missing cats. Although he presents a tough guy exterior, he has a warm and compassionate heart. He can never resist coming to the rescue of the lost and lonely, and so attracts the bereaved and the dysfunctional. "Jackson had never felt at home in Cambridge, never felt at home in the south of England if it came to that. He had come here more or less by accident, following a girlfriend and staying for a wife. For years he had thought about moving back north, but he knew he never would. There was nothing there for him, just bad memories and a past he could never undo, and what was the point anyway when France was laid out on the other side of the Channel like an exotic patchwork of sunflowers and grapevines and little cafes where he could sit all afternoon drinking local wine and bitter espressos and smoking Gitanes, where everyone would say, Bonjour, Jackson, except they would pronounce it 'zhaksong', and he would be happy. Which was exactly the opposite of how he felt now." If you have not yet sampled the writing of Kate Atkinson, this is an excellent place to start. 2018: I have read this book multiple times and now,editing this review for republication, I can feel another Atkinson/Brodie marathon coming on. We are moving into our new home in October where I will be able to unpack all my treasured books that are currently packed into boxes in storage, and I will be greeting my Jackson Brodie series like the long lost old friend it is, and once more immersing myself in his world. THE AUTHOR: Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and she has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since. She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories, and One Good Turn. Case Histories introduced her readers to Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, and won the Saltire Book of the Year Award and the Prix Westminster. When Will There Be Good News? was voted Richard & Judy Book Best Read of the Year. After Case Histories and One Good Turn, it was her third novel to feature the former private detective Jackson Brodie, who makes a welcome return in Started Early, Took My Dog. DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the 'about' page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my blog sandysbookaday.wordpress.com https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Jackson Brodie, ex-army, ex-police is working as a PI when three cold cases are brought to his doorstep. One involves the killing of a beloved teenage daughter still missed by her father ten years later, one is the case of a missing child presumed dead thirty years before and the third is woman looking for her niece, estranged as a baby, who would now be twenty five. Seemingly unconnected and unsolvable after the time that has elapsed, all three cases will be solved by Jackson over the course of Jackson Brodie, ex-army, ex-police is working as a PI when three cold cases are brought to his doorstep. One involves the killing of a beloved teenage daughter still missed by her father ten years later, one is the case of a missing child presumed dead thirty years before and the third is woman looking for her niece, estranged as a baby, who would now be twenty five. Seemingly unconnected and unsolvable after the time that has elapsed, all three cases will be solved by Jackson over the course of the novel with the characters in some sharing links with others. However, instead of the crimes being the main focus of the book, it is Jackson himself that is of most interest. Recently divorced with an eight year old daughter who he tries to see often, Jackson dreams of retiring to France. He carries around his own personal unsolved cold case with the brutal rape and murder of his older sister Niamh when he was a child. He is a very ordinary and flawed man but it is his kind patience and ability to listen to people that sets him apart as a good investigator. All the characters he encounters are so well drawn, with their personal peculiarities, that they feel like everyday people you might know. Jackson's haphazard parenting as he takes his daughter with him to visit witnesses and his thoughts about his ex's new partner add some wry humour to this gentle read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Definitely a page-turner! And one that relies not on plot alone, but on character development much more, which makes it my kind of page-turner. I truly didn't ever want to put it down. I ended up feeling that I knew these people and missed them when I was finished. Atkinson is deft at handling several complex storylines and, as only some of the characters' stories end up overlapping (at least as far as they know), I appreciated the realism of some events being known by only the reader. I also en Definitely a page-turner! And one that relies not on plot alone, but on character development much more, which makes it my kind of page-turner. I truly didn't ever want to put it down. I ended up feeling that I knew these people and missed them when I was finished. Atkinson is deft at handling several complex storylines and, as only some of the characters' stories end up overlapping (at least as far as they know), I appreciated the realism of some events being known by only the reader. I also enjoyed both her sly, ironic humor and her sensitive (but not maudlin) compassion concerning all the 'lost girls'. And while my picky brain noticed a colloquialism (used twice) that bothers me ('try and', instead of 'try to', though I know I'm being very picky as the book is written in a colloquial style) and an editing mistake of 'waiver' instead of 'waver' (Anybody want to hire me as a proofreader? Seriously, I don't try to find these things, they just pop out at me.), this book was an extremely satisfying read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tania

    “Because that was how it happened: one moment you were there, laughing, talking, breathing, and the next you were gone. Forever. And there wasn’t even a shape left in the world where you’d been, neither the trace of a smile nor the whisper of a word. Just nothing.” Kate Atkinson's Life After Life is one of my all time favorites, so I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to start this series. This is an addictive read (I couldn't put it down once started, so finished it in two sittings), the wri “Because that was how it happened: one moment you were there, laughing, talking, breathing, and the next you were gone. Forever. And there wasn’t even a shape left in the world where you’d been, neither the trace of a smile nor the whisper of a word. Just nothing.” Kate Atkinson's Life After Life is one of my all time favorites, so I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to start this series. This is an addictive read (I couldn't put it down once started, so finished it in two sittings), the writing is stunning, the characters incredibly human and nuanced and the wit sharp and ever present. This is exactly my type of humor and I was snorting with laughter throughout the book. Although the mystery element of the book is interesting, what makes this book something special is the characters. They are all memorable and very quirky. The main character, Jackson - an ex-policeman turned PI - is intelligent, decent and compassionate. A very nice break from the alcoholic, sordid past charmers found in a lot of other mysteries. I'm so excited about discovering this series, and will get to the next one soon. I definitely recommend this beautifully written, clever novel for anyone not wanting a fast-paced thriller but rather a deep delve into characters' backgrounds and inner workings.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This book falls under 2 genres - mystery and family drama - and I would argue that it is much more than the sum of its parts. Every character was incredibly real, incredibly flawed, and incredibly complex. Having said that, Case Histories feels like a light read because of Atkinson's great wit. Atkinson has a talent for weaving together 3 seemingly unrelated stories, all with themes loss, innocence, and healing. While many of the characters are female, the central character is Jackson Brodie, a This book falls under 2 genres - mystery and family drama - and I would argue that it is much more than the sum of its parts. Every character was incredibly real, incredibly flawed, and incredibly complex. Having said that, Case Histories feels like a light read because of Atkinson's great wit. Atkinson has a talent for weaving together 3 seemingly unrelated stories, all with themes loss, innocence, and healing. While many of the characters are female, the central character is Jackson Brodie, a private detective working on 3 major cases. My favorite thing about this book was Atkinson's attention to detail. Oftentimes, you can spot 'foreshadowing' too easily because it's done without subtlety. But in Case Histories, it wasn't until I finished the novel that I realized that the tiniest nuances were actually meaningful symbols. Great writing, great characters, great stories - READ THIS BOOK!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    To be honest, I thought this book was a bit of a mess. The subject matter was often compelling and I deeply appreciated her focus mostly on character rather than plot (which was an especially good choice not only because it played to Atkinson's strengths in psychological drama, but because was pretty easy to guess the resolution of each plot not long after it appeared). She does fairly convincing atmosphere, too. And she definitely committed to her unlikeable characters until the end. But it's on To be honest, I thought this book was a bit of a mess. The subject matter was often compelling and I deeply appreciated her focus mostly on character rather than plot (which was an especially good choice not only because it played to Atkinson's strengths in psychological drama, but because was pretty easy to guess the resolution of each plot not long after it appeared). She does fairly convincing atmosphere, too. And she definitely committed to her unlikeable characters until the end. But it's only worth it to go unlikeable if you also make your characters believable at the same time- why do it if you're not trying to capture pyschological realism, the sort that people flinch away from acknowledging, but actually indulge in every day of their lives? But at least two of the characters felt incredibly dated (a fact that's constantly commented on by Brodie, which doesn't help) in an out-of-place way (that did not make it charming). Brodie himself was a bit off-putting at times. I know he's an homage character, but you have to find a way to make that work in the 21st century that makes me want to say "charmingly old fashioned" rather than " judgmental throwback asshole". Relationships seem to also just sort of... happen to these characters for no particularly good reason. They are not built, they're just dropped onto the page whenever convenient for the scene Atkinson wants to write. That all said, you can see the potential here. You can see if Atkinson just pushed things a little farther, let herself stare longer into the abyss rather than drawing back in horror, if she just edited for a little more consistency in character, and far fewer hints about plot that we don't need... it could be even more compelling. She's got the right idea and the right raw materials in the mix here. Which is why I bought the second novel and will be reading it soon. I have faith that she'll get it together. The woman who wrote Life After Life can do better, and I believe she will.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bill Khaemba

    “She should have done science, not spent all her time with her head in novels. Novels gave you a completely false idea about life, they told lies and they implied there were endings when in reality there were no endings, everything just went on and on and on.” I have been in a reading slump but this book was exactly what I needed… I wanted a cool crime novel; I got that and something very different... I enjoyed this book immensely; I had the 4th book in the series in hardcover so I decided to g “She should have done science, not spent all her time with her head in novels. Novels gave you a completely false idea about life, they told lies and they implied there were endings when in reality there were no endings, everything just went on and on and on.” I have been in a reading slump but this book was exactly what I needed… I wanted a cool crime novel; I got that and something very different... I enjoyed this book immensely; I had the 4th book in the series in hardcover so I decided to get the other three on ebook and was it worth it! The way the story was everywhere and still connected was just beautiful. *Kate Atkinson* managed to have a very cool, dark comical style which just blended well, her characters were fleshed out and sort of morphed into real people. I loved the characterization this how crime writers should write their characters. The plot progressed slowly but the characters were spot on... Two missing persons and a murder are being investigated by the retired officer Jackson Brodie, a private investigator who is dealing with his own issues. Honestly I would recommend this it was freaking amazing and I can’t wait for the other books

  20. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Pearl Ruled: CASE HISTORIES by KATE ATKINSON Rating: 2* of five (p102) First of the hugely popular Jackson Brodie series of mysteries set in Scotland, this book comes super-positively blurbed by Stephen King, recommended by site royalty, and could not possibly have left me more flat, uninterested, and even impatient. "The rain's easing off," he said, and Caroline said, "Yes, I think it is." He stood up and escorted her outside. The dogs had been asleep and now made a great performance of welcoming Pearl Ruled: CASE HISTORIES by KATE ATKINSON Rating: 2* of five (p102) First of the hugely popular Jackson Brodie series of mysteries set in Scotland, this book comes super-positively blurbed by Stephen King, recommended by site royalty, and could not possibly have left me more flat, uninterested, and even impatient. "The rain's easing off," he said, and Caroline said, "Yes, I think it is." He stood up and escorted her outside. The dogs had been asleep and now made a great performance of welcoming Caroline's appearance, although she knew they couldn't care less really. "Good-bye, then," John Burton said and shook her hand again. She felt a little flutter, something long dormant coming back to life. He climbed on his bike and cycled off,turning once to wave, an action that made him wobble ridiculously. She stood and watched him moving away from her, ignoring the overexcited dogs. She was in love. Just like that. How totally, utterly insane. And that, laddies and gentlewomen, is where I said sayonara cookie monster. It's okay writing. The rubbish about the dogs is ridiculous, but the wave, the wobble, and the swoon are pretty good. But this is as good as it's gotten in 102pp. This is as much a wowee toledo as Uncle Pervy here has received. Your story or your storytelling has to wow me more than this by p102, and as neither has, onto the scrap-heap of history with you. *briskly dusts hands*

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cherie

    I can not get used to this writing style of rambling. It is like reading the jumbled and erratic thoughts of someone who is easily distracted. One thought or subject is not completed in a paragraph before it is changed onto something completely different, and it usually has nothing at all in common with the prior subject being discussed or anything at all in common with the paragraph or even the chapter. This was distracting and made me impatient. It is like having a conversation with someone wh I can not get used to this writing style of rambling. It is like reading the jumbled and erratic thoughts of someone who is easily distracted. One thought or subject is not completed in a paragraph before it is changed onto something completely different, and it usually has nothing at all in common with the prior subject being discussed or anything at all in common with the paragraph or even the chapter. This was distracting and made me impatient. It is like having a conversation with someone who tells a story by going all around the world, taking 30 minutes to tell a 5 minute story. You just want to scream for them to get to the point.The repeditive mentions of sex was just weird and unnecessary, and I questioned the author's motives as to why she included it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bionic Jean

    “When you chopped logs with the axe and they split open they smelled beautiful, like Christmas. But when you split someone’s head open, it smelled like abattoir and quite overpowered the scent of the wild lilacs you’d cut and brought into the house only this morning, which was already another life.” “What does it matter what people do? At the end of the day we’re all dead.” If you like your mysteries cosy, this one is perhaps not for you. For an English domestic murder mystery, parts are quite bru “When you chopped logs with the axe and they split open they smelled beautiful, like Christmas. But when you split someone’s head open, it smelled like abattoir and quite overpowered the scent of the wild lilacs you’d cut and brought into the house only this morning, which was already another life.” “What does it matter what people do? At the end of the day we’re all dead.” If you like your mysteries cosy, this one is perhaps not for you. For an English domestic murder mystery, parts are quite brutal, although it has to be said that stalwarts of the genre such as Ruth Rendell and P.D. James have their moments. Case Histories, a detective novel from 2004, was Kate Atkinson’s fourth novel, and the first one to feature the character of Jackson Brodie as a private investigator. It was quite a departure from Kate Atkinson’s earlier stand-alone novels. Her very first novel, “Behind the Scenes at the Museum” had won the 1995 Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year and gone on to be a bestseller. Two more Costa awards were to follow in subsequent years. In 2011 she was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), for her services to literature. Like Susan Hill with her Simon Serrailler books, Kate Atkinson entered the crime genre after establishing herself as one of England’s most promising literary writers of the present day. And because of her writing skill, she also has pushed the genre in surprising directions. Susan Hill seemed to turn the formulaic crime novel on its head with her first detective novel, and in Case Histories Kate Atkinson uses her writing abilities to inject macabre twists into ordinary domestic settings, and create an extraordinarily intricate and complex plot. Jackson Brodie is an offbeat private detective, who lives in Cambridge. He is a little bitter and cynical, and has a fair amount of emotional baggage of his own—never mind that of his eccentric clients. He has recently had an acrimonious divorce and his 8 year old daughter is growing up more quickly than he likes. What’s more his ex-wife and her new partner plan to take his young daughter away to live in New Zealand. Added to the personal shambles he feels he has made of his life, Jackson Brodie finds himself increasingly involved with the complicated lives of his clients. When various seemingly random attempts are made on his life, this jaded detective suddenly becomes aware that somebody wants him dead. His stalker becomes increasingly malevolent and dangerous. By digging into the past for his clients, Jackson Brodie seems to have unwittingly threatened his own future existence. An air hostess suspected of adultery seems an uninteresting case, as does the sister of a convicted killer attempting to locate a niece, but the ramifications of both prove more complex that they appear. There is also a quirky pair of elderly spinsters, one of whom seems attracted to him, a sad woman who takes in stray cats and wonders if someone is taking them, a lonely obese man, obsessed by grief for his murdered daughter, and a woman who is the sister of an axe-murderer, who herself seems to harbour dark secrets. None of Jackson Brodie’s cases are current. All of his clients bring him “cold” cases, which they are desperate to solve. Jackson Brodie is an imperfect human being, flawed as we all are in some respect, but he is also an ex-police inspector and an ex-soldier. He has a strong sense of justice, and a desire to right the world’s wrongs. Whether his sense of self-preservation is up to doing this kind of job is debatable. With mixed feelings, he reluctantly accepts three cases, which weave their way through this novel—and finds plenty of family skeletons in the process. Perhaps there are skeletons hidden in every family’s closet, and perhaps that is why a novel in this genre will appeal to so many. There is a large list of characters, who are drawn well enough to empathise with. A three-year-old girl had disappeared from the family garden, one hot morning long in the past. A solicitor had witnessed the violent and inexplicable stabbing of his beloved 18 year old daughter in his office, by an apparent stranger. And a struggling mother eventually lost her temper with her husband, and killed him with an axe. All these family tragedies are on record, and now Jackson Brodie has been employed independently, by relatives or friends of these three unconnected cases, who wish him to look again, to see if they can even now be solved. Jackson Brodie wonders: “Amelia and Julia Land found something … Theo Wyre lost something. How easy life would be if it could be one and the same thing.” But life is never that neat. We read about the circumstances of the first murder, of the little girl, Olivia Land, who had three older sisters: Sylvia, Amelia and Julia. We meet two of her surviving sisters, who have unearthed a favourite long-lost toy mouse, which they think may be a shocking clue to her disappearance. The marriage of their parents, Rosemary and Victor, had not been a happy one: “If it hadn’t been for this chance hospital encounter, accidental in all senses, Victor might never have courted a girl. He already felt well on his way to middle age, and his social life was still limited to the chess club. Victor didn’t really feel the need for another person in his life, in fact he found the concept of “sharing” a life bizarre. He had mathematics, which filled up his time almost completely, so he wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted with a wife. Women seemed to him to be in possession of all kinds of undesirable properties, chiefly madness, but also a multiplicity of physical drawbacks—blood, sex, children—which were unsettling and other.” They were complete opposites, and Victor, a virtual recluse whose mother had been committed to a lunatic asylum in 1924, was twice as old as his wife, Rosemary: “Olivia was her only beautiful child. Julia, with her dark curls and snub nose, was pretty but her character wasn’t, Sylvia—poor Sylvia, what could you say? And Amelia was somehow …bland, but Olivia, Olivia was spun from light. It seemed impossible that she was Victor’s child, although, unfortunately, there was no doubting the fact. Olivia was the only one she loved, although God knows she tried her best with the others. Everything was from duty, nothing from love. Duty killed you in the end.” Theirs is a very dark tale of human frailties and failings. And not only is it thirty years later, but the implications of the sisters’ own experiences: the part of the story they know, are far from welcome. So they prefer to put their trust in a private detective, rather than take this find to the police. What is eventually brought to light surprises everyone. We follow too, the beautiful, adored, clever and kind Laura Wyre, up to the point where she had been murdered, ten years ago. Along with her father and Jackson Brodie, we try to reconstruct what might have happened, and why. The day she was attacked, and her throat slashed, had been Laura’s first day in her new job, and she seemed very happy. Theo had been (selfishly, he knew) ecstatic that Laura had decided to be an associate in his firm of solicitors, rather than go to university, as he dreaded life without her. He was a widower, and for all her life he had protected Laura. But did Theo really know what his daughter was like? Did anyone? Why did nobody seem to know anything about the stranger who stabbed her so violently, except that he wore a yellow golfing jersey? Is Theo Wyre presenting a true picture of the events—and of himself? What lies hidden here? The third case is about Michelle. She was a young mother; intelligent and gifted academically, but a perfectionist in every way. However, she had discovered that it was impossible to do a perfect job of looking after a very needy baby and a demanding husband. She was: “continually amazed at just how many skills and crafts could go into making “a lovely home”—the patchwork quilts you could sew, the curtains you could ruffle, the cucumbers you could pickle, the rhubarb you could make into jam, the icing-sugar decorations you could create for your Christmas cake—which you were supposed to make in September at the latest (for heaven’s sake)—and at the same time remember to plant your indoor bulbs so they would also be ready for “the festive season,” and it just went on and on, every month a list of tasks that would have defeated Hercules and that was without the everyday preparation of meals … “She’d had a glimpse of a possible future—the pretty cottage, the garden full of flowers and vegetables, bread in the oven, a bowl of strawberries on the table, the happy baby hitched on her hip while she threw corn to the chickens. It would be like a Hardy novel before it all goes wrong.” But all go wrong, it did. Michelle could not cope with accepting a “best effort”: she needed something where she could achieve her perceived level of perfection and control. She knew that somehow, she needed to escape from the trap of her daily life—but was her fit of rage and despair, leading to a dead body and herself bloodily clutching the axe, the escape she had intended? “Time was a thief, he stole your life away from you and the only way you could get it back was to outwit him and snatch it right back.” The various timelines flip between 1970 and 1994, then back to 1979, and leap forward to the present day, and back. Details of these three cases are woven together, and interspersed with aspects from Jackson Brodie’s own life: a juggling act in itself. Jackson Brodie delves deeper into the family issues, and meets many who were connected with each case. Kate Atkinson’s compassionate but razor sharp eye is on the detail. These tragedies are small-scale and human, and we feel thrust into a kind of claustrophobia, witnessing the personal agonies and joys of those involved. She describes the minutiae of each unconventional family’s life clearly. Although all the cases are set at different times in the past, and we switch freely between them, we get a heightened sense of reality; of being there in the moment. We also come to a realisation that all these families with their eccentricities, although very different from each other, are also dysfunctional. As, of course, is Jackson Brodie’s own. But why unearth such raw memories of terror, cruelty, loss and abandonment? Why relive such grief and regret? Decades have intervened, and the tragic headlines are long forgotten by most. What is their motivation for constantly revisiting and exploring these crimes, each so far in the past? The answer is that any family members affected by such traumas crave closure; some kind of resolution before they can move on. Despite their immense sadness and a sense of loss, their needs are the same as Jackson Brodie’s own. They need to lay certain ghosts to rest, to achieve some reconciliation with past events—and have a chance at happiness. We learn much of each family’s history, and see the individuals connected both as they were many years ago, and in some cases how they are now too. Kate Atkinson peels back the cosiness of family life which disguises the imperfections: the favouritism, selfishness and jealousy which threaten to explode into violence. She reveals that the power of emotions may alter the course of family histories. The tragedy and horror is ever present, and we feel an objectivity through the omniscient narrator. Kate Atkinson has just as much emotional candour when dealing with Jackson Brodie, as with her other characters. The novel demands close attention however, as separate chapters crisscross family histories and timelines, so that we can examine the three crimes both in the past, and now, with the knowledge we gradually gain. Jackson Brodie gradually establishes subtle connections and reveals painful truths which will eventually help to heal these old wounds. There is love and obsession but also grief and recovery, guilt and redemption: more than you might expect in a simple detective novel. If you enjoy novels which include a lot of suspense, long-buried secrets, and detailed psychological character studies, sprinkled with quite a few literary references and with a complex plot at its heart: if you enjoy a puzzle to solve, and piecing together the missing links of long-unsolved cases, you may enjoy this one. As one critic acidly put it: “No character in an Atkinson novel can hear the word “convent” without thinking ‘Get thee to a nunnery.’” Another called it: “a breathtaking story of families divided, love lost and found, and the mysteries of fate.” And Stephen King said it was: “Not just the best novel I read this year (2004), but the best mystery of the decade. There are actually four mysteries, nesting like Russian dolls, and when they begin to fit together, I defy any reader not to feel a combination of delight and amazement.” Kate Atkinson once said: “Writing is the act of rescuing the past.” Case Histories is certainly preoccupied with families, time and fate. It is however, very much a novel which appeals to modern tastes, in that it is gritty and realistic, describing the dark side of humanity. However it has a strong moral core; not necessarily a happy ending, but this ethical dimension does triumph over the depressing, disquieting material. Nevertheless, the novel did not really appeal to me, although it is very well written, and most of my friends here have given it a much higher rating than my default of three stars. Kate Atkinson has published four more novels so far featuring Jackson Brodie: “One Good Turn” (2006), “When Will There Be Good News?” (2008), “Started Early, Took My Dog” (2010) and “Big Sky” (2019). The first four Jackson Brodie novels have also apparently been adapted for BBC television, starring Jason Isaacs; the entire series called after this first one, Case Histories. “Because that was how it happened: one moment you were there, laughing, talking, breathing, and the next you were gone. Forever. And there wasn’t even a shape left in the world where you’d been, neither the trace of a smile nor the whisper of a word. Just nothing.” “The only time you were safe was when you were dead.”

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I am not a fan of detective novels or police procedurals, but this was written by Kate Atkinson and I have found her other books marvelously inventive and never boring. I’m glad I decided to chance it, because Jackson Brodie is an individual, not a cliche, and Atkinson’s approach to this genre is different than most, as well. Jackson is a private detective with four cases, and they are different cases, just as a real detective might have. Each of them is interesting and each solved in a realistic I am not a fan of detective novels or police procedurals, but this was written by Kate Atkinson and I have found her other books marvelously inventive and never boring. I’m glad I decided to chance it, because Jackson Brodie is an individual, not a cliche, and Atkinson’s approach to this genre is different than most, as well. Jackson is a private detective with four cases, and they are different cases, just as a real detective might have. Each of them is interesting and each solved in a realistic way. I loved the way Atkinson weaved between the cases, revealing clues to us as they were revealed to Brodie, and allowing us an opportunity to put together the pieces. I confess, with delight, that I did not solve a single one of them ahead of the reveal. I seldom want to go on to a second book in a series like this. I loved the Jesse Stone movies, but I left Robert Parker’s books after only one attempt to become interested; I heard nothing but good things about Tana French, but Cassie Maddox left me flat. I’m thinking I haven’t had enough of Jackson Brodie, he’s interesting enough to make me want to see what becomes of him. Who would have guessed?

  24. 4 out of 5

    Antoinette

    This is Kate Atkinson’s first Jackson Brodie mystery, I have to say she is a very talented writer. The story simply flows effortlessly- considering there are 4 storylines, that is truly amazing. We are introduced to the cases one by one and then we follow Jackson as well as the key players in each case. Each case is riveting. Her skill in maneuvering each story line is perfection. When it comes to mysteries, I find it best to go in not knowing too much about the book. If you like unique mysteries This is Kate Atkinson’s first Jackson Brodie mystery, I have to say she is a very talented writer. The story simply flows effortlessly- considering there are 4 storylines, that is truly amazing. We are introduced to the cases one by one and then we follow Jackson as well as the key players in each case. Each case is riveting. Her skill in maneuvering each story line is perfection. When it comes to mysteries, I find it best to go in not knowing too much about the book. If you like unique mysteries with a very likeable detective, you will love this one. I certainly did !

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I really liked this. It's not your conventional detective mystery; despite a missing toddler and two murders, its emphasis is on the characters rather than the crimes. Detective Jackson Brodie is dealing with his own emotional baggage, as are the various family members of the three cold cases he's investigating. The result is tragic, quirky, confusing, surprising, frustrating, compelling. I read it in two sittings, such is its complex pull. Recommended if you like something a little different. I really liked this. It's not your conventional detective mystery; despite a missing toddler and two murders, its emphasis is on the characters rather than the crimes. Detective Jackson Brodie is dealing with his own emotional baggage, as are the various family members of the three cold cases he's investigating. The result is tragic, quirky, confusing, surprising, frustrating, compelling. I read it in two sittings, such is its complex pull. Recommended if you like something a little different.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Arielle

    Gahhh, what a mess. The three "case histories" are "connected" by complete coincidence, and only the tiniest possible amount, the characters are complete caricatures and the entire plot was contrived and overblown. I've heard a lot about Kate Atkinson, most of it amazing, but this does not tempt me to read any more of her books... Though it could be worse, I suppose. At least she can string a coherent sentence together. NOTE: I have since read Life After Life and it is worlds away from this mess. Gahhh, what a mess. The three "case histories" are "connected" by complete coincidence, and only the tiniest possible amount, the characters are complete caricatures and the entire plot was contrived and overblown. I've heard a lot about Kate Atkinson, most of it amazing, but this does not tempt me to read any more of her books... Though it could be worse, I suppose. At least she can string a coherent sentence together. NOTE: I have since read Life After Life and it is worlds away from this mess. Her writing there is wry and delicate, the story strung together with warmth and ease and I actually can't believe the same author wrote this book. Still, I'm glad I didn't give up on her completely - I suppose A God in Ruins is next!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Diane Challenor

    Amazingly good. I didn't want to put it down and I didn't, until I finished the book, 48 hours after beginning, Phew! I'm not a fast reader but I found this a real page turner. It isn't a thriller, but it's a fantastic mystery. I read it and listened to it. The narrator of the audiobook was excellent. It won't be long before I read the next one in the series. I just have to catch my breath first. Amazingly good. I didn't want to put it down and I didn't, until I finished the book, 48 hours after beginning, Phew! I'm not a fast reader but I found this a real page turner. It isn't a thriller, but it's a fantastic mystery. I read it and listened to it. The narrator of the audiobook was excellent. It won't be long before I read the next one in the series. I just have to catch my breath first.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    This is the second of Atkinson's Jackson Brodie mystery novels I've read. I've previously enjoyed One Good Turn. To briefly summarize what others have already mentioned, in this novel, Brodie takes on three cold cases and deals with a variety of individuals who vary from eccentric to criminal, from engaging to seemingly insane. Their stories, and the stories of the old crimes, are set up carefully and with wonderful detail, wending their ways back and forth through the book. We see the story thr This is the second of Atkinson's Jackson Brodie mystery novels I've read. I've previously enjoyed One Good Turn. To briefly summarize what others have already mentioned, in this novel, Brodie takes on three cold cases and deals with a variety of individuals who vary from eccentric to criminal, from engaging to seemingly insane. Their stories, and the stories of the old crimes, are set up carefully and with wonderful detail, wending their ways back and forth through the book. We see the story through multiple viewpoints, with Jackson being the center point and ultimately a sort of slightly flawed moral compass. I am amazed at what Atkinson has accomplished with this book, keeping all these stories alive and bouncing in the air with multiple narrators along side the central narrator. And doing this, she keeps the reader not only engaged but anxious to know what is going to happen next and to whom. And why? And what happened 34 years ago? or 10? And the other thing I found....I really cared what happened to all of them, including to Jackson. Oh---and I will continue reading this series. Probably a 4.5. Part of me wonders if it's a 5. Recommended for anyone who would like to read a literate mystery.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    I'd never read Kate Atkinson when this book came up as a group read, so I was glad for the opportunity to see for myself whether this series was as good as I'd heard. I wasn't disappointed. There was definitely a lot to like. The writing is first rate, the dialog well done, and the exposition of multiple concurrent plots is well executed. For the most part the characters - particularly the women, I think - were well conceived. However, it did seem a bit cluttered, given all the characters of the t I'd never read Kate Atkinson when this book came up as a group read, so I was glad for the opportunity to see for myself whether this series was as good as I'd heard. I wasn't disappointed. There was definitely a lot to like. The writing is first rate, the dialog well done, and the exposition of multiple concurrent plots is well executed. For the most part the characters - particularly the women, I think - were well conceived. However, it did seem a bit cluttered, given all the characters of the three main cases PI Jackson Brodie is investigating, plus two less complex cases and his personal life. I found myself having to pause occasionally to sort out who belonged to which plot. And a plot line that resulted in repeated threats to Brodie's life seemed a bit off-key to me. From an overall perspective I can see how it was useful in bringing the entire book to a close, but it wasn't consistent with the more realistic nature of the other crimes. The ending of the book, actually, was something of a disappointment. A little too much good fortune coming out of nowhere for my tastes, but not enough to detract from a solid 4 for the book overall. The narrator of the audiobook, Susan Jameson, strikes just the right tone. A perfect match.

  30. 4 out of 5

    An Odd1

    Hodge-podge jumbles sad incoherent unpleasant British murders and warped porn glimpses into a dark vision of humanity. The least hint of warmth, love, is buried, more by atrocities of average citizens gone wrong than extreme villainy, like Holocaust butcher next-door. I lasted for some of the exposition, then skipped to find closure. Chapters jump from 1970s to 1990s, then names, tangle people, then unravel mysteries. At the start, cute sweet toddler disappears from own back yard, stranger slice Hodge-podge jumbles sad incoherent unpleasant British murders and warped porn glimpses into a dark vision of humanity. The least hint of warmth, love, is buried, more by atrocities of average citizens gone wrong than extreme villainy, like Holocaust butcher next-door. I lasted for some of the exposition, then skipped to find closure. Chapters jump from 1970s to 1990s, then names, tangle people, then unravel mysteries. At the start, cute sweet toddler disappears from own back yard, stranger slices pretty motherless teen's neck, and frustrated new mother snaps, axe to her husband's noggin. At the end, solutions surface, somersault and resurrect. (view spoiler)[ For example, we learn the vanished girl's abusive father buried her, then see her slightly older sister, who had fits and heard God, smother her trying to silence her, then asked their sire to take care of the body. As a conclusion, an investigator retires happily to France with his girlfriend, who says "C'est la vie." Right. (hide spoiler)] BBC drama supposed to be based on book, hope improvement. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdVvxg... Case Histories trailer

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