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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 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 escapeThirty years after the first incident as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases startling connections and discoveries emerge

10 thoughts on “Case Histories

  1. says:

    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 imaginationThis 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 solveThere 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 startSubseuent 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 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 By observing the same situation through 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 onAlthough this novel is far from a comedy there were times when I was literally laughing out loud The characters in this novel have uniue 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 biteWhen 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 backBy 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. says:

    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 uite afraid to go and revisit it now because after reading 'Case Histories' I am not sure if Atkinson can actually writeThis is some sort of psychological dramacrime story so you don't expect the writing to knock you of your feet However uite 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 fictionThe 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 consciousnessI will give you an exampleThe 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 bikesWell 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 uoted?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 teacherconsultant would rip me to pieces and tell me to take up knittingAnother thing that annoyed me was a very lazy presentation of the backstory of each 'case' We are uickly 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 titsActually f that I am changing it to two stars

  3. says:

    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. says:

    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 uickly once I started readingCase 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 pathI 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 uite 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. says:

    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 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 uniue 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 35 stars

  6. says:

    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. says:

    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 my own problem reading no 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 uite 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 35 to 4 stars book for me and I will have time hopefully to read the next books of Kate Atkinson

  8. says:

    45★ “Right up until the end Victor’s mind had been as methodical as an efficient library whereas Amelia felt that hers was 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 tooThere 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 interviewsThe 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 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 suirm 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 wellI 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 BrodieMy review in Sept 2013What 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 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. says:

    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 uniue 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 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. says:

    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 uirkiness and dysfunctionality that was supposed to pass for richness of characterization; endless plot twists large and small and character shifts that felt 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