Thursday, 9 April 2009

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

This was one bought for me my mum and have been putting off reading it because we don't usually read the same things. But I'm glad I did because I really enjoyed it. It concerns three cold cases presented to ex police officer, Jackson Brodie, now a private detective. The three case histories are presented at the beginning and then it is left to Jackson to decipher the truth from the information he's given.

The first case history concerns a three year old girl who went missing from a tent in the back garden 30 years ago, the second is about an eighteen year girl who was murdered in her fathers office ten years ago and the third is a woman looking for her niece who was supposedly witnessed the murder of her father by her mother twenty-five years ago.

The book is not just about these three case's though. Jackson himself, and his dysfunctional family life and tragic past is revealed slowly throughout the story. His pain at being separated from his eight year old daughter and his reaction towards his wife and her new lover illuminate his distress at his current life. He also expresses great concern at the provocative way his daughter is allowed to dress and behave, juxtaposed in his head with the atrocities that have occurred in the cases he is working on.

The stories themselves interlock and when the endings are finally resolved, nothing is as it seems. What we are given at the start is a brief overview of the three stories, and the rest of the story unfolds in small parts over the course of the novel. We get multiple points of view for the events that happened in the past, sometimes from Jackson, sometimes from the characters that are searching for the person, but more often than not from the people Jackson interviews that were connected with the events. Each viewpoint illuminates another aspect to each case which moves the story on a bit more, although sometimes it confuses more than elucidates!

I'm not sure whether I liked the case histories themselves or the development of Jackson Brodie best in this book. I found the case histories interesting, although the last one was fairly predictable. But I also found Jackson himself to be a really interesting, and human investigator. I suppose the histories themselves and Jackson's history are interlinked, and maybe neither would be as interesting to read about without the other. All the characters have lost at least one thing, some more, whether it a cat, sister, daughter, family, niece or even life as they knew it. Maybe this is what brings them all together, and makes the novel so coherent and readable.

And I definitely want to know more about Jackson Brodie, so I've been visiting my mum this week so I've picked up the second and third to take home with me.

1 comment:

Savidge Reads said...

These books are brilliant. I think Kate is great in any genre and these ones are just wonderful. I do not know how she does her plotting because its just magnificent and she makes the complex seem so easy to understand. Sorry am a bit enthused with these! Can't wait to hear your thoughts on the next two. I found the second one slightly comical and the third very, very dark.