Case Histories: A Novel

by Kate Atkinson

Hardcover, 2004

Call number

FIC ATK

Collection

Publication

Little, Brown and Company (2004), Edition: 1st, 320 pages

Description

Private detective Jackson Brodie finds his own need for resolution sparked by three investigations, including that of two sisters who discover a shocking clue to the disappearance of their third sister thirty years earlier.

Media reviews

We have a woman who once thought she was marrying a “great mathematician” but now finds herself—a mother of four daughters and pregnant again—wondering what her glowering husband “would look like when he was dead.”

User reviews

LibraryThing member brenzi
Not what I was expecting. So much more than a detective novel. Great characterization. Terrific plot twists and turns. Biting humor. Proper amount of violence. Satisfying ending.

Kate Atkinson, my new favorite author, starts her very fascinating novel with three case histories (cold cases) and we follow along as the facts of the case are revealed. Fast forward to 2004 and we meet every-man's detective, sympathetic and amiable Jackson Brodie, and we tag along with him as he investigates the cases: the disappearance of a young girl, a young girl murdered before her father, and a young wife who murders her husband with an axe. Atkinson deftly weaves the three cases into one narrative. The result is an incredibly cunning look at family secrets that result in murder and a story that, as it progressed, I found harder and harder to put down.

Its Atkinson’s total control of language that moves the narrative forward and paints a visual image that you can’t forget. At the end of the scene with the axe murder she gives us this:

“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 an abattoir and quite overpowered the scent of the wild lilacs you’d cut and brought into the house only this morning, which was already in another life.” (Page 44)

Atkinson also brings to life the theme of survival: people will sustain themselves even in the aftermath of incredible loss. And in telling this heartbreaking story, she demonstrates tremendous sympathy and foresight and, at the same time, is very, very funny in that recognizable British way. Very highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member Lman
It would be wrong, I think, to pigeonhole Case Histories as a crime novel, even a great crime novel; it is a book not easily categorised, and rightly so. But it is a book easily read – an unexpected, remarkable wealth of words - a narrative which provides a delicately subtle, truly satisfying, thought-provoking scrutiny of a tiny slice of life.

The book begins with three seemingly discrete vignettes, three individual crime scenarios - three case histories - which have delivered lasting, devastating trauma and tragedy to the affected participants; and which remain unsolved or unreconciled after many years. Due to recent events, from a sudden desire, or from pure impulse, those involved decide to seek answers not previously forthcoming; independently, and coincidently, each approach a private investigator, Jackson Brodie, to achieve what, on face value, appears near impossible. As the details emerge, as the stories unfold, as we follow this unruly, but innately decent man, his investigations slowly knit together the randomness and disparity of each case, until all are intertwined with the other; eventuating in plausible, convincing and credible juxtaposition!

And yet, it is not the mysteries, nor their outcomes, which are the main strength of this novel. Despite the need to find the answers, despite the wish to produce a closure of sorts, it is the depth and detail of each character, so vividly etched, so superbly rendered, that delivers the mastery of this literary piece. Kate Atkinson supplies a cast of engaging, interesting players, fundamentally damaged to such an extent by earlier ordeals they now shape and colour their personalities; collectively exposing such a level of complex family drama that it resonates through the whole of the book and out into today's society. Very adroitly the author applies light, witty touches to desperate, heartbreaking situations until an elegant balance between comedy and tragedy is achieved, sustaining the intensity of the story-line and the reader’s interest to the very end.

I was absolutely captivated by this book: the utter simplicity of the interweaving of the individual circumstances, the rich and compelling plot devices and the gritty, beautifully-realised characters combined to provide, in my mind, an exceptionally well-crafted work. This author is a talent; a splendid novelist with an astute intelligence, and a writing style such that the story leaps off the page, directly into the reader’s psyche, from the very first word – so well-written that, at the end, it immediately invokes a demand for more. Thankfully there is...
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LibraryThing member lauralkeet
Case Histories is the first in a series featuring Jackson Brodie, a police officer turned private detective. The first three chapters set up the rest of the book, each describing a murder or missing person case. The three cases spanned a thirty-year period and were completely unrelated. Two were never solved. Each packed such a punch, I had to put the book down after the opening chapters and allow that feeling in the pit of my stomach to subside.

After that bit of stage-setting, Jackson Brodie is brought in to investigate a situation related to the first case. Amelia and Julia are two sisters; 30 years ago their 3-year-old sister Olivia went missing. The sisters discover something that causes them to question their version of events. Meanwhile, another client contacts Jackson seeking more information about his daughter's death from apparently random violence. Intertwined with these two stories is a third about a young woman who killed her husband and left a young daughter to be raised by her sister.

The story-within-a-story format was a great way to introduce a diverse cast of characters but still develop them fully. While the intensity diminishes after the first three chapters, each case still strikes an emotional chord and it would be impossible not to get wrapped up in the characters' lives. I also enjoyed the way Kate Atkinson gradually revealed the truth, usually through tiny details or snippets of conversation. She kept me guessing by throwing in a couple of red herrings, but also created several satisfying "aha!" moments when puzzle pieces fell into place. This was everything a good mystery should be.
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LibraryThing member TinaV95
This was my first read by Kate Atkinson and I was expecting quite a lot as this novel was long-listed for the Orange Prize for fiction in 2005.

"Case Histories" did not disappoint me! The uniquely told story begins with three seemingly unrelated cold cases... We are then introduced to Jackson Brodie, a PI with several flaws. I loved Brodie's character ~ who to me, was gritty, real, sad, and encouraging all at once.

I heard another LT'er describe Atkinson's ability at depicting family dynamics as impressive. I would agree... many of the characters and the family relationships are dysfunctional and complex. There were two characters I wanted to hear less of, but as the story progressed Atkinson's winding of the plots became clear.

I will definitely be reading more Atkinson in the future. I would recommend this one for fans of literary fiction and/or mysteries.
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LibraryThing member katiekrug
Every bit as good as everyone says it is. There is more here than just a “mystery” – the cases presented are only the catalyst for an exploration of family, grief and mourning. In this way, I found [Case Histories] similar to [The Pure in Heart] by Susan Hill in which the crime is almost secondary to the story. Atkinson develops strong characters, and adds just the right touches of dry humor and some lovely writing, to keep the reader turning the pages. Anyone who has ever lost a loved one will recognize the struggle to create a new kind of existence around an empty space that once held so much love and joy.… (more)
LibraryThing member soliloquies
This book really surprised me as I was thinking it might be an interesting read (but nothing special), yet it turned into one of those books that I just loved. The writing style was inviting, there was humour, despair and a deep understanding of people. Some of the lines really resonated with me. All the narrators have suffered loss on some scale and yet slowly, decades later, they are able to rebuild their lives. They never forget what has gone before, but they instead grow from their experiences. Great characterisation and a realistic look at life. Brilliant.… (more)
LibraryThing member ShellyS
This is the first book by Atkinson to feature PI Jackson Brodie, but this is no standard mystery. Told non-linearly, a number of case histories from various dates in the past are presented and Jackson, in the present, ends up investigating or following up on most of them. There's the challenge for the reader to see how they all might intersect or connect, from the murder of an 18-year-old woman to the disappearance of a 5-year-old girl, to the woman who killed her husband while her infant daughter watched. Atkinson feeds the reader information in her own due time, revealing only what she feels important at the time she wants the reader to know it. In some ways, and in lesser hands, this can feel manipulative, but Atkinson is a marvelous writer who pulled me in with her evocative prose. Her characters, from the dysfunctional middle-aged sisters of the long-lost little girl, to the grossly overweight father of the dead young woman, to the sister of the woman who went to prison for killing her husband, come fully to life. Least of all is Jackson, himself, who has to deal with his ex-wife, his young and precocious daughter, attempts on his life, and a painful past of his own.

Nothing is as it seems in this book, which makes the case for never assuming you know what's going on and to never judge a... yeah, I'll say it, a book by its cover. Case Histories is about secrets and human frailties, misconceptions and inner strength and what people are truly capable of, good and bad. Jackson might not get all the answers to be had, but the reader does, in a most satisfying manner. It's rare that I jump into another book by the same author without mixing something different in first, but the sequel to Case Histories is next on my reading list.
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
Case Histories has been sitting on my shelves for more than a couple of years, and I could just kick myself for not getting to it sooner. A wonderful blend of rich character development and a cleverly plotted story that immediately draws the reader in and totally holds your attention. I quite literally couldn't put this book down.

The story revolves around Jackson Brodie, a private investigator, as he tackles three cold cases. A little girl gone missing from her back yard, a young woman brutally murdered in a senseless act of violence, and a young, depressed new mother who goes to jail for murdering her husband. The author Kate Atkinson delivers complex, intelligent mysteries but where this book shone for me was in her characters. Each one has a complete and interesting backstory, a reason to be involved and their own individual identity.

I heartily recommend this book, but be ready, this author's talent draws you into the story and doesn't let go until the end of the book. And then, you just simply want more.
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LibraryThing member mrstreme
I have heard so much about Jackson Brodie from my fellow readers that I felt like I knew him. Thankfully, after reading Case Histories, I was still pleasantly surprised by Jackson and the mysteries he planned on solving.

The story wove around three "cold cases" - the disappearance of a little girl from her backyard, the murder of an 18-year-old girl and the whereabouts of a young girl who ran away from home. Ten years later, these cases land in Jackson's lap, and as he uncovers clues about each one, the reader learns clues about what makes Jackson tick.

While the story line was good, I think the allure of this book rests with its characters. Jackson is very likeable. His awesome sense of humor adds brevity to the sadness of each case, including his own tragedies. I also liked the many women who were part of Case Histories: Deborah the crusty secretary, Marlee who was Jackson's precocious daughter and the Land sisters, who huffed and flirted their way into Jackson's heart.

Will I be reading the rest of the books in this series? You bet! I can't wait to see what Jackson is up to next. If you love mysteries and character-driven novels, make sure to add Case Histories to the top of your reading list.
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LibraryThing member nbmars
I love Atkinson’s writing. She’s funny and sarcastic and snarky and can deliver devastingly apt observations about relationships. Therefore, in spite of the fact that I had already read this book several years ago, and have a TBR pile that is taking over my house, after reading When Will There Be Good News, I decided that I needed to go back to the beginning and read Atkinson’s other books again!

The book begins with three case histories of unsolved murders that are seemingly unconnected -and yet, if you’ve read some Atkinson, you know nothing ever remains unconnected! Three-year-old Olivia Land disappeared over thirty years ago. Eighteen-year-old Laura Wyre was killed in a law office massacre ten years previously by an unknown perpetrator. And 25 years ago, eighteen-year-old Michelle Fletcher, in over her head with a demanding baby and husband, went to prison for murdering her husband with an ax; what become of the child is unknown.

All of these cold cases are brought by the survivors to Private Detective Jackson Brodie, 45, divorced, and father of an eight-year-old, Marlee, whose affections he fears he is losing to his wife’s new partner. In spite of his preoccupations, however, he struggles to do his best by his clients, even though he is often profoundly perplexed by what they really want from him.

Each chapter is told from a different narrative viewpoint, and some of them cleverly replicate events of a previous chapter but from a different perspective. In this way, gradually the veils covering the truth about the past are unwound, and through Jackson, all the seemingly disparate strains join together in a karmic weave of chance and circumstance.

Discussion: What makes Atkinson’s books truly memorable is her facility with language, and her ability to capture so adroitly the essence of a character. Similarly, she is impressive for her astute and sobering portrayal of the quotidian concerns and existential ironies in the lives of ordinary (and not so ordinary) people.

Some examples of Atkinson’s writing prowess:

"[re Josie, Jackson Brodie’s ex-wife, who “spent much of her working day modifying the behavior of five-year-old boys.”] When they were married she would come home and do the same to Jackson (‘For God’s sake, Jackson, use the proper words. It’s a penis’) during their evenings together, cooking pasta and yawning their way through crap on television. She wanted their daughter, Marlee, to grow up ‘using the correct anatomical language for genitalia.’ Jackson would rather Marlee grew up without knowing genitalia even existed, let alone informing him that she had been ‘made’ when he ‘put his penis in Mummy’s vagina,’ an oddly clinical description for an urgent, sweatily precipitate event that had taken place in a field somewhere off the A1066 between Thetford and Diss, an acrobatic coupling in his old F Reg BMW (320i, two-door, definitely a policeman’s car, much missed, RIP).”

"Jackson could feel the ache in his jaw starting up again. He was currently seeing more of his dentist than he had of his wife in the last year of their marriage. His dentist was called Sharon and was what his father used to refer to as ‘stacked.’ She was thirty-six and drove a BMW Z3, which was a bit of a hairdresser’s car in Jackson’s opinion, but nonetheless he found her very attractive. Unfortunately, there was no possibility of having a relationship with someone who had to put on a mask, protective glasses, and gloves to touch you. (Or one who peered into your mouth and murmured, ‘Smoking, Jackson?’)”

"Jackson [again at the dentist’s and eying the surgical instruments] tried not to think about this, nor about that scene in Marathon Man, and instead worked on conjuring up a picture of France. He could grow vegetables, he’d never grown a vegetable in his life, Josie had been the gardener, he’d carried out her orders, Dig this, move that, mow the lawn. In France, the vegetables would probably grow themselves anyway. All that warm fertile soil. Tomatoes, peaches. Vines, could he grow vines? Olives, lemons, figs – it sounded biblical. Imagine watching the tendrils creeping, the fruit plumping, oh God, he was getting an erection (at the idea of vegetables, what was wrong with him?)."

Evaluation: Although there are crimes in this book, it is more a story about people and what motivates them than about mysteries. It is as if you are experiencing the tale holographically – the characters present themselves to you in all their dimensions, and you can’t dismiss any of them as caricatures. Atkinson is a writer for people who appreciate the craft, and who love discovering just how much depth can be bestowed to characters in a short space, and how much meaning can be packed into a deceptively simple paragraph.
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LibraryThing member ImBookingIt
Another book that left me thinking "finally,I finished it"! Not that it had a lot of pages. It just felt long.What I liked:On the balance, I liked Jackson, the detective. I saw just enough aspects of him to make him seem a little more real than the other characters. He was interesting and at times entertaining.The Olivia storyline pulled me through the book. The look at the effects on the family, past and present, the ripples of searching for an answer after all of that time were interesting reading.The book was well written.What I didn't like:All the characters other than Jackson. There were too many and they seemed flat. I didn't buy Amelia's change at the end.None of the storylines other than Amelia's kept my attention. The way the book skipped between the storylines and then also within the storylines was hard to follow, particularly with all of the characters.I kept feeling like the book was saying "I am literary. Analyze me. Read beneath the surface". I didn't, so I don't know what was there. Summary: There is an interesting book in there somewhere. I just wasn't patient enough to dig it out. Even by the end, it hadn't entirely surfaced for me.… (more)
LibraryThing member Jenners26
2 words that describe the book―Comedic Mystery

3 setting where the book took place or characters I met

* Setting: London, England, present day

* Jackson Brodie is an ex-cop turned private detective. He’s bitter about his recent divorce and his downgrade to part-time dad for his little girl Marlee. Yet despite the anger at his ex-wife and her new husband, Brodie is a softie. (He’s working pro bono trying to find a black cat with a most unfortunate name for an eccentric old widow.) He’s also quite attractive to the ladies―evidenced by the fact that several of his female clients are as interested in him romantically as they are in his services. But lately, Brodie has a bit of a problem―someone keeps trying to kill him.

* Brodie’s clients are a diverse bunch. We have the quarreling, eccentric pair of sisters, Amelia and Julia, who are seeking Brodie’s help in locating their beloved baby sister who disappeared mysteriously when she was only 3 years old. We also meet Theo―an overweight sad sack of a man who cannot move past the murder of his beloved daughter more than 10 years earlier by a killer who was never found. Finally, we meet a woman who wants to locate her long-lost sister―a woman with a past she wants to keep hidden at all costs.

4 things I liked or disliked about the book

* I liked how Atkinson structured the book. At the beginning, we’re presented with three case histories that tell us about crimes that were committed in 1970 (A Family Plot), 1994 (Just A Normal Day) and 1979 (Everything from Duty, Nothing from Love). Each case history is about 10 or so pages and plunges you directly into a story about a time when things went terribly, horribly wrong. Yet in just those few pages, Atkinson creates an amazingly detailed sketch of the dynamics and personalities involved. I was amazed how quickly I was drawn into these case histories―I wanted to know more! But then Atkinson introduces Jackson Brodie, and we begin to get involved with his life. At first, I was a little confused about what was happening, but once it started coming together, I fell in love with this approach. Along with Jackson, we keep finding out a bit more about each case history―with Atkinson writing each chapter from a different character’s point of view.

* Atkinson has a wonderful sense of humor that permeates the entire book. Despite stories dealing with sad and awful things, I found myself frequently laughing out loud. (In a way, the tone of the book reminded me of Catherine O’Flynn’s novels, What Was Lost and The News Where You Are.) I particularly got a kick out of the relationship between Julia and Amelia. The dynamics between those two were endlessly amusing. I love how Atkinson managed to write both a gripping mystery book while also taking the time to develop her characters and giving them personalities and lives. It makes a much more interesting read than just working your way through a heavily plotted mystery.

* I loved how Atkinson ended the book―particularly since it leaves the door wide open for a sequel (which, lucky for me, was already published as One Good Turn. And yes, I already have it!) I got quite attached to Jackson and some of the other characters so I was excited to learn that this wasn’t the end of line for them. Plus, Atkinson tosses Brodie a rather large bone that just opens up the possibilities for the second book.

* Although I like the realism of having a detective working multiple cases at once (just like it would be in real life), naturally some of the cases/story lines worked better for me than others. Of the three case histories, I thought the one dealing with Caroline was the least effective and compelling―most likely because it was the most isolated of the three stories and felt almost unresolved at the end. Yet it is minor complaint, and it shouldn’t really stop you from reading this book.

5 stars or less for my rating:

I’m giving the book 4.5 stars. I just loved this book to pieces. It isn’t often that you find a novel that skillfully weaves together several mysteries, presents a diverse array of interesting and flawed characters, and has just the right combination of humor and wit to make it a pleasure to read. This was an immensely satisfying read, and I’d highly recommend it to just about anyone! Kate Atkinson … come on down! You’ve just earned a place on my favorite author list!
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LibraryThing member whirled
I was quickly won over by Jackson Brodie, whose thoughts aren't always noble and whose problems are achingly familiar - he's got more heft and heart to him than most fictional detectives I've encountered. Kate Atkinson's carefully constructed plotlines and wonderfully ribald humour are just icing on a rather delicious cake. I tried to savour it, but Case Histories was just so readable and so much fun that I couldn't put it down. Highly recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member lit_chick
The opening chapters of Case Histories introduce three cold cases. But Atkinson doesn’t burden her audience with sensational details about the crimes themselves; she’s interested in the characters affected by the acts – those who committed them, and those left to live with them. Jackson Brodie, ex-cop turned private investigator, unites the strands of the story. He’s authentic, likeable, humourous, and fully aware that life is messy. At one point, having endured a particularly acerbic incident with his ex-wife and her new husband, Jackson momentarily allows himself to revel in the absurd:

“If he killed Josie, it would have to be done in a ‘calculated, cold-blooded killing’ – fire, explosives, a gun. A gun for preference, an L96 A1 sniper with a Schmidt and Bender scope, so you could be as far away as possible – he couldn’t do an intimate killing, something close up and personal like strangling or a knife, he couldnt’ be there, watching the blood stop pumping around her cheating heart, couldn’t watch the life fade from her eyes. And not poison. Poison was for psychopaths and deranged Victorian women.” (Ch 14)

Atkinson is delightful! Must have more Jackson Brodie!
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LibraryThing member glade1
Excellent story! I found it hard to put down, because I was eager to see how the seemingly disparate cases were connected. This book is a mystery story but more than that. The author creates a variety of individual characters whose feelings and motives and experiences are unique and interesting. The theme of loss is important, of course: a lost sibling, a lost child. There are also themes of guilt and responsibility, and the rather uncomfortable idea of not loving people as much as we should (loving one child more than another, not loving your child at all, etc.). Although the story delves into some deep corners, it remains hopeful and has an underlying thread of humor; even though there is tragedy, life still contains comedy.

The tale is well told, with the author doling out information a little at a time until the reader finally learns the "truth" behind all of the various mysteries. I understand Atkinson is writing (or has written) other books with the same detective, Jackson Brodie. I'd be interested in reading them; he is a character I enjoyed getting to know.
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LibraryThing member richardderus
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*
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LibraryThing member porch_reader
After hearing so many of you sing the praises of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie mysteries, I decided to see for myself what all of the fuss was about. I really enjoyed this first book in the series. The plot was complex. Atkinson starts by introducing three separate open murder cases. Then when the relatives of two of the victims approach PI Jackson Brodie in hopes of finally gaining some closure, we begin to see how the cases are related. Atkinson handles the complex plot like a master, while at the same time introducing us to Brodie, a multi-dimensional character with a great deal of charm. I'll definitely be looking for the next book in this series.… (more)
LibraryThing member sarah-e
I'm sure I can't say something about this book that hasn't been said. It is a mystery in the sense that all literature is a mystery, and in the sense that life itself is a mystery - we don't know what's coming before it happens, and even then we may be left to wonder why it happened at all. The story and its own protagonist, Jackson Brodie, are both completely tragic and triumphant, gut-wrenching, thought provoking, knowable. Books in series usually make me think of genre fiction, spun out to bring something familiar to an audience that will swallow them whole (and don't get me wrong - I love genre fiction, especially in series). Case Histories is the beginning of a literary series that (I expect) won't try to overwork Brodie's character arc or caseload, but will dose out those utterly human triumphs and tragedies in a format that I for one will return to. It's both funny enough and sad enough to have a place among "really good" English literature. Highly recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member bookworm12
There’s something about chilly winter nights that just calls out for reading mysteries. This book is a particularly good choice if you’re looking for one this season. Instead of the typical private investigator fare, the book could more accurately be described as literary crime fiction.

Case Histories feels like an anomaly in the mystery genre. There aren’t the usual detective clichés or cheesy lines. Instead it is distinctly literary, focuses on excellent writing instead of just the case at hand. But it also has a can’t-put-it-down plot that made me read the whole thing in 24 hours.

The plot follows three separate cases, all from different years. They are unrelated, but Jackson Brodie, a private detective, is the common-thread. Because there are three separate mysteries, plus a few side-plots with the detective, there are continuous reveals through out the book. It never becomes a tedious wait for the big finish and by the end the author wraps everything up beautifully.

Mysteries are usually so plot-driven, but the characters in this book are amazingly well-drawn. The first three chapters explain the different cases and each one feels like a short story that could stand on its own. Within a few pages I was completely sucked into each characters’ story. I loved how the they were told from multiple view points. It gives each case an added depth to see the situations from so many different angles. Atkinson also includes parenthesis throughout the book, which I loved. Each one gives extra insight into the characters’ thoughts.

The three cases include a wide variety of characters. There’s a man, Theo, and his sweet daughter Laura; Victor and Rosemary, two people who are incredibly ill-suited for parenting, and their daughters Sylvia, Amelia, Julia and Olivia. Then there’s Michelle, her husband Keith and their baby Tanya. Each family experiences a tragedy that rocks the very foundation of their world.

Jackson’s own issues work their way into the story as well. He and his ex-wife Josie are trying to find a balance, in their newly separate lives, in raising their 8-year-old daughter Marlee. You would think that such a diverse cast of character would be confusing, but each one is so unique that they hold their own spot in your mind as you read each chapter.

If you love a good mystery, but appreciate great characters and writing, don’t miss this one! I’ve already ordered the sequel, One Good Turn, from PaperbackSwap.

"Theo wondered if those people who were destined to die young had some kind of premonition of the shortness of the hours and that gave their life an intensity, a seriousness like a shadow."
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
This book contains many twisting, winding paths. It is not a book to read when your mind is cluttered. It is a book to read when you have concentrated time to follow the meandering turns. It is worth the energy -- if you have it to spare.

It is well written and has a mysterious film noir like quality. A previous police man, Jackson Brodie now runs a detective agency. Three cases are presented to him, each one separate, yet with tidbits of overlapping circumstances and characters.

Years ago a wife was blamed for ax murdering her husband; she left behind a daughter who slipped between the cracks and the sister of the alleged murderer is hoping to find the now grown child .

A beautiful, innocent three year old little girl disappeared 35 years ago; one sister is now a clustered nun and the other two bickering unlikeable sisters now want Jackson to discover what happened to her.

Older lawyer Theo still grieves and tremendously misses his then 19 year of daughter who was murdered in his office while he was at a meeting. All leads left a cold trail and he hopes Jackson can find the why to the puzzle.

The characters were very well developed, but I think the author rambled a bit. Perhaps a chunk of the story could have been deleted. I have a difficult time when authors switch back and forth, back and forth. It makes my head spin till I want to spit green pea soup.

Still, it does haunt me a few days after reading it.

Guardedly recommended 2.5 stars.
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LibraryThing member marcyjill
I was surprised by how truly absorbing this book was. I couldn't put it down and I couldn't solve all the mysteries. The characters were unique and yet tied together in such an interesting way. I can't wait to read "One Good Turn" and find out more about Jackson Brodie.
LibraryThing member Vidalia
Beautifully crafted novel. Intertwining stories full of surprises. Real page turner. Unlike most mysteries, I had no idea of what the ending would be. Loved Jackson! I am waiting for more after One Good Turn.
LibraryThing member Greatrakes
My first Kate Atkinson and it won't be my last.

This novel is really a series of episodes, some of which could almost be short stories. It's a crime novel, but nothing like the genre standard. It has murders, but they are all cold cases and slowly the plots and characters intersect. Jackson Brodie is the only link between all of the stories, a good man, with a cliche private detective life - divorced, unkempt and with a young daughter he has to haul around with him. All wonderfully written, I believed in all of the characters and they somehow all felt familiar, I suppose it is partly because I share a generation and a background with so many of them.

Jackson appears in the latest Atkinson novel and I'm getting it soon.
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LibraryThing member frogball
A very affecting read. By no means just a story of crime solving. The murders, three of them, are carefully placed in the context of the relationships of the people involved, as is the complex way the solutions are revealed through the inter-connectedness of the various characters. Much more layered than simply a tale of the dogged sleuth at work.… (more)
LibraryThing member auntieknickers
This, along with Michael Gruber's The Book of Air and Shadows, is one of the best books I've read so far this year. It is more a novel with mysteries in it than a "mystery novel," but there is an ex-cop private eye who ties all the mysteries together, because he is employed to look into some cold cases. By the end of the book he has solved some of the mysteries and leaves it to the reader to solve one of them -- and also leaves us imagining the future lives of the characters. In the way the characters' lives intertwine, it reminded me of Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde (though not in most ways). It also has a lot to say about the effects of crime on the families of the victims. I would recommend it highly.… (more)

Pages

320

ISBN

0316740403 / 9780316740401
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