Book Review: Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

ThisCase Histories (Jackson Brodie, #1) is the book that introduces readers to the wonderful and quirky Jackson Brodie, Kate Atkinson’s divorced father and Private Investigator who can’t seem to say ‘no’. Because of his inability to refuse someone in need, he finds himself investigating three seemingly disparate cases, all of which happened some time ago – a baby girl gone missing, a young mother losing control in a murderous rage and, finally, a lovely young woman who works in a busy office who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time with drastic consequences.

Each case is explored thoroughly and the reader accompanies Jackson as he peels back time and uncovers the contexts for each crime, the victims and perpetrators. While the cases are disturbing, there is still humour laced throughout, mainly through the character of the self-deprecating and much put upon Brodie who also has the capacity to offer great and unexpected insights into those he encounters and what he uncovers.

More than a crime or thriller novel, Case Histories is about the complexity of families, about love, trust, betrayal, but it’s also about what makes us tick and how simple it is for even the best plans and intentions to become derailed and tragedy strike. How a fuse can be lit and conflagration erupts. The writing is lovely, poetic and flowing, and the characters are fully rounded and thus easy to engage with and understand.

A terrific novel that offers so much to readers and which pushes the boundaries of crime fiction in wonderful ways.

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