I'm not a mystery reader, and this isn't your typical mystery book. It's truly a literary mystery, full of well-drawn and sympathetic characters with great back-stories. This was recommended to me by another non-mystery reader, and I'm so glad I took the time to read it.
Trying to characterize this book as a mystery or a family saga or simply as literature is like trying to herd cats. Don't waste your time - just pick up the book and start reading. Atkinson takes some seeminly unrelated case histories and manages to tie them together.
Couldn't finish it. I tried. The writing (at least through the 90 pages I managed to get through) was interesting, sometimes quite witty. But it rambled on and on for pages and pages with nothing really happening. (Reminded me of "Atonement" in that respect.) I sort of cared about what happened to the kid in the beginning, but not enough to waste hours finding out.
Took forever to find the tie-in between the four separate crimes. I stuck to it and finished.. so glad I did. The entire book from start to finish is a mystery. Gotta respect the reader that reads to the rewarding conclusion...
I loved the cleverness and wry observations in this book; however the format may not appeal to some readers. This is a mystery story with 5 seemingly unrelated cases spanning 4 decades which are eventually linked together by one private investigator named Jackson Brodie. The cases are told out of order and seem to be random crimes, mainly about missing or murdered persons. The author's funny, quirky style often made me laugh out loud, even though the main crux of the story is some rather gruesome crimes.
This book kept my attention, but didn't live up to my expectation. Because it revolves around three different story lines, I found it hard to really associate with any of the characters--at times, I found it hard to keep track of who's who. But, the end is creepy, and it's a quick read. If I had read it every day, I might not have found it quite as disjointed as it seemed. My review is atypical--everyone raves about it; so take it with a grain of salt!
This is the second book I've read by Kate Atkinson and I really enjoyed it. I like her writing style a lot and the way that she interweaves so many different lives in this book in genius. This is a great read, although it's pretty dark at times, which isn't usually my style, but I think the plot and writing more than made up for it.
Not your typical mystery!!
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
This book was not at all what I expected. It was much better. The case histories were not dry and boring and they began to tie to one another with the P.I., Jackson Brodie, as the unifying feature. After reading through several of them, I couldn't stop reading because I wanted to know what was going to happen. How "Jackson" was going to solve these cases as you knew that he eventually would. The conclusions were surprising and satisfying. And the best part at the end of the novel was the promise of more "Jackson" novels.
I enjoyed reading Case Histories. It was a quick read. Three cold case mysteries turned over to a private detective keep the pages turning. I don't agree with Stephen King's assessment that this is the "mystery of the decade," but a solid, well written, enjoyable story about a private eye with problems in his personal life trying to bring these three cases to closure for his clients, all the while with someone trying to kill him. A unique and interesting cast of characters emerges as the story is told, with occasional unexpected humor.
It's a curious mix of dark humor and depressing mundanity. I simply don't know how I feel about this book. Reading it was an emotional roller coaster to me. I didn't like most of the characters but recognized their flaws, needs, bad luck, etc, as inherently human and grotesque. It's like a train wreck. You want to know what happens even as you despise the horrid things you see. The book is well written and interestingly done. It's a page turner and therefore very readable. I like the way the different characters and their stories weave throughout the plot somehow becoming intertwined in unusual (and not so unusual) ways with other principal characters.
I thought the female characters, with the exception of Caroline whom I found myself strangely bonded to, were truly unlikable, shrill, and downright mean. Jackson Brodie was the more feminine and likable character interestingly enough--as one character puts it he's "the last good man standing." It was strange how many of the male characters were the more nurturing and loyal while the females seemed forever pissed off, frustrated, and cold. Some of that was because of the oppressive and male-dominated world in which they found themselves subjected and restrained from their goals in life, but while I could identify with their plight, I found them all extremely obnoxious and similar. It makes me wonder who Kate Atkinson is and what she is like. She wrote that she finds it easy to characterize women, but if that is the case, then she must not know very many well-adjusted ones. All her women are borderline bi-polar--either running hot or cold. Always instantly judgmental or near hysterical, always mercurial with their identity, and very mercenary with their sexuality.
Meanwhile, Jackson listens to female country singers, wants a monogamous relationship, and keeps getting the fuzzy end of the lollypop for constantly doing the right thing. I really liked his character. I could see why half the cast of characters were in love with him but not why the other half hated his guts or why he put up with it.
I loved the beginning of the story when we are introduced to the first three case histories because they are true, dysfunctional and humorous depictions of many peoples' childhoods and early adulthoods. But by the middle of the book I was downright depressed with the painful mundanity and cruelty of everyone's life. No one is happy, except maybe Caroline who always has an escape plan. No one is truly likable, except Jackson, who is a curious sort of hero who constantly gets screwed over and gets up to ask for more. By the latter quarter of the book things are looking more up for our cast of characters and so the book doesn't end on *such* a dour note. The constant barrage of bad events are finally alleviated by some good events and happy coincidences that seem all the more brash and glaring and unlikely--embraced and tucked in amidst so many horrible events as they are. Of course you want something nice to happen so this critical reader is all too happy to let a few extraordinary events happen in a book filled with so many ordinary tragedies.
But I think I'll stick primarily to my epic sci/fi and fantasy novels. I like heroes who do extraordinary things to escape the mundane life. I suppose since we live in a mundane world I'd rather not dwell there too often in my imagination as well. Unfortunately I'm a little curious as to what happens next for Jackson Brodie, so I might have to at least read the second book in the series--when I've recovered enough from this one.
Basically, this book tells the stories of three cases that are all being investigated by private detective Jackson Brodie. Not too interesting until you discover that the cases all occurred in different years. From the inside cover:
Case One : Olivia Land, youngest and most beloved of the Land girls, goes missing in the night and is never seen again. More than thirty years later, two of her surviving sisters, each achingly lonely in her own way, reunite when their cruel and distant father dies. There among the clutter of their childhood home, they unearth a shocking clue to Olivia's disappearance.
Case Two : All of Theo's happiness is tied to his devoted daughter Laura. He delights in her wit, her effortless beauty, and her selfless love, and in the fact that she's taken a position at his prestigious law firm. But on her first day on the job, a maniac storms into the office and turns Theo's entire world upside down.
Case Three : Michelle looks around one day and finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making. A very needy baby and a very demanding husband make her every waking moment a reminder that somewhere, somehow, she made a grave mistake and will spend the rest of her life paying for it - until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.
At first glance you wonder what all these cases could have in common. The first three chapters of the book are devoted to setting up the particulars of each case (e.g. Chapter One (1970 case) ~ Family Plot; Chapter Two (1994 case)~ Just a Normal Day and Chapter Three (1979 case)~ Everything from Duty, Nothing from Love). The remaining chapters are then titled as the name of a character from the case. The chapters jump around from case to case. We get the impression that somehow, in some way, all three cases may be connected. But just how? You will need to read the book to find out.
The relationship between 2 of the surviving sisters from Case #1 is too strange for my liking. Too much emphasis on sex. They seem to argue way too much for sisters who (I get the impression) have not spend a lot of time together since they became adults. Too much competition, bickering. But perhaps that was done to reflect the dysfunctionality in which they spent their childhoods. The disappearance of Olivia Land is solved. Not entirely sure that I saw the end playing out the way it did. But all in all, I don't have trouble with the way it ended.
Case #2 is also solved and, oddly enough, it is tied into Case #3, again not in a way that I would have expected. The connection with Case #3 seems a bit contrived to me, but does present a twist on things. I saw it going that way as the book unfolded.
Finally, I did have trouble at times remembering who the 2 surviving sisters from Case #1 were. I kept getting their identities mixed up. I did find that confusing but that might have been just a quirk on my part and not due to Atkinson's writing style.
Would I read any of her other books? Probably. While I was not over impressed with this book I was intrigued by the concept: tying 3 apparently unrelated stories that occurred in different years together. I would probably give her another chance.
When PI Jackson Brodie is hired to find out what happened in three separate cold cases, he believes that he'll never find out what happened to these victims.
If you're looking for a fast-paced m/t, this isn't the book for you. But if you're looking for a beautifully written book, that's more about the people left behind, then you'll love it. I certainly did!
This book has the best beginning of any novel I've read in a while. In later chapters, it has its ups and downs (it's true that there seem to be some cheap, cliched shortcuts), but you definitely won't be bored.
This was the first work by Kate Atkinson I have read. The store weaves three distinct cold case murders solved by a British retired policeman named Jackson Brodie. Each of the dysfunctional families involved in the cases would be plenty for a single story line as Atkinson excells in creating memorable characters and defining moments in her prose. Bringing them together with an unusual perspective told by an outsider creates an incredible gutwrenching read. One of the takeaways you might have upon finishing the book is thinking about lingering questions - when bad things happen to people, is it justified? is it deserved? should the person who "does the bad thing" go unpunished?
This book grabbed me right from the start. Interesting characters and great storylines and I couldn't wait to see how they intertwined. Well, somewhere in the last quarter of the book or so, things just got bizarre. Incidents happened out of the blue it seemed. Some things were not fully explained and the big mystery was a bit of a let down when exposed. I enjoyed it up until the end when it felt as if the author rushed to get finished.
The prose is excellent, but the structure is not for me. She wanders...she'll start with an event and then bring in another character and go on a tangent for pages, before coming back to the event. It's frustrating when the plot is good, but it keeps getting interrupted.
Despite having read this four or five years ago, I really didn't remember it all that well! I was both disappointed at my loss of memory, and happy to enjoy this book all over again. I remember loving it so much the first time I read it, I immediately went out and bought the rest of her books, and my love of this book was not in any way diminished by the re-reading. It is a well-crafted novel, pulling everything together in a neat and interesting manner. I really enjoyed it and am really looking forward to reading the next two Brodie books!
Stephen King said that he believes this is the best mystery of decade.
"Entertainment Weekly" and "People" both raved about book 4 of the Jackson Brodie series so I decided to pick up Book 1, "Case Histories." I also have read the second book in series.
Case Histories is a page turner. I had a hard time putting it down. It is a good mystery and novel. In both this book and book 2, I had several "laugh out loud" moments also. I am planning on reading all four books she has written with Jackson Brodie as main character.
This book started as a major downer. In the first two chapters two children disappear without a trace. I didn't think I wanted to read a whole book of this, but then the story takes off with unlikely heroes and unpredictable twists of fate. There is only the slightest foreshadowing of the conclusion. Enjoyable, would be a great beach book.
The first case featured in this book focuses on a young mother who is extremely disappointed with the way her life has turned out, can't stand her standoffish husband and only truly loves Olivia, the happiest and prettiest of her many daughters. When Olivia goes missing the book turns to the next case about a young woman who is murdered midday in front of witnesses but the killer gets away. The third case involves an ax-wielding murderess. These cases are pretty cold but Jackson Brodie (a private detective, I think) takes them on. He's thankful for the work and for the opportunity to dwell on something other than his still painful divorce.
I enjoyed this book but now that it's a week or so later and I am attempting to write a review I am very fuzzy on the details. What stuck with me though was the way these stories intersected and the attention to the characterization of the survivors of these horrific cold cases. I went into this book expecting it to be dry and, quite honestly, rather dull but there is a wry sense of humor weaved throughout and so many dark secrets to discover that I never found it boring or hard going.
I love a novel where "Everything is connected" in some way...where there is delicious twisted subtle irony in the interactions of the characters. However, this book is not that book. The set up of the story is colorless and plodding, and there was scarce reason to care for anyone, except for a few characters who had departed. The resolution was a strange mixture of predictable and incomprehensible and in the end, there are no real surprises. I was sort of puzzled to see that the author is considering making this the beginning of a series, since the characters were in no way likeable or memorable.
Not your average mystery here. I love this author for the way she pulls you in to the characters interior lives. The viewpoint shifts, the stories overlap but in the ways that real life does. This mystery is challenging for the reader but so worth it. Every book in the Jackson series is different. This is one of the best in the series and one of the best mysteries I've ever read.
Fantastic detective story; although, it's as much a series of family dramas as a mystery. I was a huge fan of the PBS TV series and the book is even better. Jackson Brodie is a world-weary private detective with a selfish ex-wife and young daughter. The cases he works on are myriad -- from tracking what might be a philandering wife and a strayed cat to a 34-year-old missing child case and an unsolved murder. The people involved in each case are so detailed and believable. And not always likeable. There's an underlying dark sense of humor that's very appealing amid such serious cases. There are three more Jackson Brodie novels and I'm looking forward to all of them.
This book begins with a very intriguing idea - three seemingly unrelated storylines, each with its own central mystery - but relies on unlikely twists to bring them together. The ultimate conclusion was unconvincing and not particularly satisfying, a shame because I really enjoyed the first 80% of the novel.
I really enjoyed this work and getting to know the main character Jackson Brodie. I will definitely be following his cases in the next book in the series. Jackson, a former investigator with the police, is now a PI. He has an odd mix of clients, that somehow at the end of this work all have something to do with each other. He currently has 3 cold cases. Ms. Atkinson leads us through the cases by showing us glimpses of what we think happened and then throughout the book going back and letting us see more and more of the story. The 3 cases are all shocking in their nature, but the author does a great job at steering you towards the characters instead of the horrible acts. Jackson is a very likeable PI with darkness of his own in his past. This book was more than just a detective novel but one filled with dysfunctional families and relationships. There is a lot of meat here-perfect for a book group discussion.
Marcia W. reviewed Case Histories (Audio CD) (Unabridged) on
Great book. I normally don't try too hard to figure things out, preferring to just go with the flow of the story, but this one had so many twists and turns I had to do some guessing to see if I was right. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
This book has the distinction of being horrifying and twee at the same time. Quite a feat in writing. Here's a sample sentence, "Binky Rain was exactly the kind of person whose body lay undiscovered in her house for weeks, except that her cats would probably have eaten her by the time she was found." (Is that even grammatically correct?) If you find that amusing, by all means get this book because there are hundreds of other similar sentences inside.
Very unique style. A litlte tedious to follow at first, but I got used to it and it became quite the page-turner. After a while I accepted feeling confused, knowing it would all eventualy make sense! Challenged my normal train of thought, kept the brain working. Good mystery of 3 intertwined tales!
Several deaths and disappearances come together as cases being investigated by a former police officer turned private detective. The mystery isn't so much the thing here as the journey, made readable by Atkinson's writing. Apparently the first of a series. She loses points, however, for a resolution that seems to come out of nowhere and for failing to clarify one of the more intriguing mysteries.
It did keep me interested but I never felt any emotional highs and lows as I'd expect out of a (sort of) murder mystery. It was different. It wouldn't come up in my mind as one to refer to a friend who liked mysteries though. The emotional level and pace of the book throughout was plodding, the characters though--quirky and fun.
Ingeniously plotted, full of suspense and heartbreak, Case Histories is a feat of bravura storytelling that conveys the mysteries of life, its inanities and its hilarities. It is a life-affirming work of profound insight and intelligence.
A triumphant new novel from award-winner Kate Atkinson: a breathtaking story of families divided, love lost and found, and the mysteries of fate.
Case One: Olivia Land, youngest and most beloved of the Land girls, goes missing in the night and is never seen again. Thirty years later, two of her surviving sisters unearth a shocking clue to Olivia's disappearance among the clutter of their childhood home. . .
Case Two: Theo delights in his daughter Laura's wit, effortless beauty, and selfless love. But her first day as an associate in his law firm is also the day when Theo's world turns upside down. . .
Case Three: Michelle looks around one day and finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making. A very needy baby and a very demanding husband make her every waking moment a reminder that somewhere, somehow, she'd made a grave mistake and would spend the rest of her life paying for it--until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.
As Private Detective Jackson Brodie investigates all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge. Inextricably caught up in his clients grief, joy, and desire, Jackson finds their unshakable need for resolution very much like his own.
Kate Atkinson's celebrated talent makes for a novel that positively sparkles with surprise, comedy, tragedy, and constant, page-turning delight.