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Case Histories: A Novel Paperback – October 17, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
In this ambitious fourth novel from Whitbread winner Atkinson (Behind the Scenes at the Museum), private detective Jackson Brodie—ex-cop, ex-husband and weekend dad—takes on three cases involving past crimes that occurred in and around London. The first case introduces two middle-aged sisters who, after the death of their vile, distant father, look again into the disappearance of their beloved sister Olivia, last seen at three years old, while they were camping under the stars during an oppressive heat wave. A retired lawyer who lives only on the fumes of possible justice next enlists Jackson's aid in solving the brutal killing of his grown daughter 10 years earlier. In the third dog-eared case file, the sibling of an infamous ax-bludgeoner seeks a reunion with her niece, who as a baby was a witness to murder. Jackson's reluctant persistence heats up these cold cases and by happenstance leads him to reassess his own painful history. The humility of the extraordinary, unabashed characters is skillfully revealed with humor and surprise. Atkinson contrasts the inevitable results of family dysfunction with random fate, gracefully weaving the three stories into a denouement that taps into collective wishful thinking and suggests that warmth and safety may be found in the aftermath of blood and abandonment. Atkinson's meaty, satisfying prose will attract many eager readers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Critics on the other side of the Atlantic love Atkinson; Behind the Scenes at the Museum won the Whitbread Prize. To Americans delight, Case Histories has made the great leap. The novel is not your typical crime genre fare (that is why we placed it within our literary reviews); its also a series of family sagas with strong moral frameworks. Atkinson delineates each character with great empathy and depth, revealing his or her motivations, flaws, and healing. She sprinkles her trademark postmodern literary references throughout the book, but this time shes toned them down, a sign of maturity. The four alternating points of view and framing device create a somewhat labyrinthine situation, and careful readers may pick up clues before theyre supposed to. Minor flaws, really; Case Histories is that "unisex, hard-to-put-down" kind of book (Chicago Sun-Times).
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
When private investigator Jackson Brodie ,who is carrying his own childhood wounds, is called to look for a missing cat he will be led to a thirty year old unsolved mystery, as well as romance and a life turning event.
Funny and touching. I can't recall the last time a writer made me laugh aloud but Atkinson is a delight. The story only faltered in the last act when events were brought to a too hasty resolution. Otherwise, recommended to while away a lazy weekend. The tv adaptations with Jason Isaacs are quite good and faithful, and worth watching afterward.
The detective, Jackson Brodie, is terrific. He's perverse, in that black cats bring him luck. He's good, the kind of detective that keeps working for a ninety-year-old cat lady who can't pay him. He's tough. Someone is trying to kill him, but he survives, with some help from painkillers. His interactions with people are often amusing. It's a delight to observe him in the dentist's chair, in the dubious care of his sadistic female dentist. He must be attractive, because women keep coming on to him.
And he sometimes solves impossible cases involving lost and murdered girls. Astonishing revelations emerge from his patient investigations.
Although the plot is replete with violence and gore, the story is essentially upbeat. I liked it so well, I've ordered the next two Jason Brodie books. I'd recommend Case Histories to any reader who enjoys bizarre mysteries, highly originals characters, and wonderful writing.
Each chapter is written from the point of view of a different character, although the steam of thoughts and feelings that gushes forth from each one is stylistically the same. And the time line can be confusing as often the author starts a chapter by skipping ahead, then back-stitches the particulars. The plot twists are creative, lively and satisfying. Jackson loves women, sleeps with several, mothers a few, rescues both women, men and finally, cats, too. Without pulling a gun, wielding a blade, or breaking a neck, Jackson delivers the good and the goods. I will definitely download more of this series.