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Case Histories: (Jackson Brodie) [Paperback]

Kate Atkinson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (198 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Jun 2005 Jackson Brodie (Book 1)

Cambridge is sweltering, during an unusually hot summer. To Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, the world consists of one accounting sheet - Lost on the left, Found on the right - and the two never seem to balance.

Jackson has never felt at home in Cambridge, and has a failed marriage to prove it. Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, his own life haunted by a family tragedy, he attempts to unravel three disparate case histories and begins to realise that in spite of apparent diversity, everything is connected...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (1 Jun 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552772437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552772433
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.6 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (198 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Her four bestselling novels featuring former detective Jackson Brodie became the BBC television series Case Histories, starring Jason Isaacs. Her latest novel Life After Life was shortlisted for the Women's (formerly Orange) Prize, the South Bank Sky Arts Literature Award, and won the 2014 Costa Novel Award. She was appointed MBE in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours List, and was voted Waterstones UK Author of the Year at the 2013 Specsavers National Book Awards.

Photography © Martin Hunter

Product Description

Amazon Review

Case Histories continues a winning streak for Kate Atkinson which began when her impressive novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum won the Whitbread First Novel Award. Since that book, Atkinson has gleaned a keen following of readers who are prepared to follow in the surprising directions the unpredictable author takes us on. And Atkinson--so far--hasn’t let us down.

The perfectly judged prose that distinguished Human Croquet is fully in evidence in Case Histories, and a new frisson here comes from the genre-stretching that Atkinson is indulging in. In some ways, this book could almost be seen as a new take on the crime novel (not the first genre one would expect the author to tackle), but the crime elements here Atkinson uses are peripheral. The protagonist here is a former police inspector who now makes a living as a private investigator. Jackson Brodie is making ends meet in a sweaty Cambridge summer and trying to deal with his own failed marriage. But if his life is adrift, perhaps Brodie can justify his existence via his belief that he can do some good for the people he encounters in his job. But he is to find that he will be irrevocably changed by those he is trying to help.

As a vividly created cast of characters surround the beleaguered Brodie, all the novelistic skills that shone in Atkinson's earlier books are fully in play. Those deluded into thinking they've picked up something resembling a standard private eye novel will find something much more rich and strange; Atkinson goes from strength to strength.--Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Her best book yet, an astonishingly complex and moving literary detective story that made me sob but also snort with laughter. It's the sort of novel you have to start rereading the minute you've finished it" (Guardian)

"Sharp humour, together with a number of unexpected twists makes this a typically pacey and intelligent read" (Daily Mail)

"A greedy feast of a story by a masterful author...A profound, exciting and lingering read" (Daily Express)

"Triumphant...Her best book yet...A tragi-comedy for our times" (Sunday Telegraph)

"To read it is to enter a hall of mirrors...Part complex family drama, part mystery, it winds up having more depth and vividness than ordinary thrillers and more thrills than ordinary fiction...A wonderfully tricky book" (New York Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and gripping 25 Sep 2004
I love Kate Atkinson's work and this is no exception.
The novel centres around four 'Case Histories', the threads of which are brought together by Jackson, a detective living in present day Cambridge.
Each of the Case Histories occur at a different point in history; a 3 year old girl goes missing from a back garden in 1970 and is never found, a beloved 18 year old daughter is murdered in 1994, a harassed wife kills her husband in 1979 and the final case concerns some revelatory truths about Jackson's family.
Jackson meanders passively through the novel with relatives involved in each of the cases coming to him for help. He seems somewhat bewildered throughout the novel and he is the only character I didn't really feel that I got to know.
Kate Atkinson's prose is lovely and she has the knack of creating suspense, she moves us around in time almost creating cliffhangers so we are dying to know what happens next. Her characters are all mostly sympathetic and the tragedy in their lives makes you, on occasion, ache for them. You do get the impression that the purpose and drive they employ in trying to gain closure from these events in their histories is often an excuse to not get to grips with the other problems in their lives, be it weight problems, overcoming inhibitions in an uptight personality, or finding love. The threads of the cases are tied up somwhat neatly at the end, leaving a satisfying conclusion.
All in all, it's a great read and I recommend it to everyone!
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102 of 107 people found the following review helpful
Jackson Brodie, a private detective, is investigating three old cases, which soon begin to converge and overlap. Three-year-old Olivia Land disappeared without a trace thirty-five years ago while sleeping outside with one of her sisters, two of whom have hired Jackson to find out what happened. Theo Wyre has hired him to investigate the death of his daughter Laura Wyre, who was killed by a maniac ten years before while working in her father's office. Shirley Morrison, Jackson's third client, is trying to locate her sister and her niece. Her sister Michelle, living with her husband and young daughter on an isolated farm, has vanished from Shirley's life, and after twenty-five years, Shirley wants to find her.
Atkinson's suspenseful and dramatic cases pique the reader's interest in the characters and their lives, especially the female characters. All have faced traumatic events and suffered through less than ideal childhoods, which unfold inexorably as the cases become more complex. Not a linear narrative, the novel focuses on different characters in successive chapters, moving back and forth in time to provide background and to set up the overlaps which eventually occur. The characters are sometimes bizarre, baffling, and even unsympathetic, but they are always memorable for their behavior and their justifications for it.
Filled with ironies and noir humor, the novel also reveals Atkinson's astute observation of social interactions, as she skewers some aspects of her characters' lives while also creating sympathy for them. While the first two case histories-that of the missing Olivia and the murdered Laura-are genuinely sad and regarded overall as tragedies, the story of Michelle Fletcher, and peripherally, her sister Shirley, is much darker.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Razor-sharp observation and black humour 5 Aug 2005
I must admit that I am a fan of Kate Atkinson's style, so despite being a little put off by the "crime novel" tag (a genre which in general I cannot enjoy at all), I anticipated great things for this book. I was not disappointed in the least. It's very easy to give out 5 stars for everything you liked, but here I feel the novel really does deserve those 5 stars.
Although the book conforms loosely to a crime novel setup, the emphasis is, as always, on the unique quirks and foibles of the characters and the innate humanity of people. One gets the feeling that Kate Atkinson's plots, deliciously tangled and convoluted as they are, are vehicles for exploring character, response to events and development.
This particular novel is set up to read like a police file, with several unsolved cases linked by the main protagonist, Jackson Brodie. In all her novels, I have found that the main characters are a little bit transparent and lacking a particularly strong personality of their own, and Jackson Brodie is no exception. However, in my opinion this does not detract from the quality of the novel, as the multitude of minor characters serve to liven the story and "bounce off" the main character.
The style is definitely an acquired taste, but for those who like their books stuffed full of lively prose, small yet razor-sharp observations, a wry turn of phrase and a unique downbeat, deadpan and very black humour, I cannot recommend it enough.
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read 5 Mar 2006
By M. Todd
Case histories follows private investigator Jackson through 3 unsolved case histories from the past. One missing child, one unsolved murder and a wife who murdered her husband. The results of each story are very surprising and not what you expect while reading the book. The story also delves deeper into Jacksons life. All the loose ends are tied up but still leaving something to the readers imagination.
The book is incredibly well written, not simplified in any way and doesn't state the obvious. Each character is very individual and not the standard stereotypes found in many novels. Suspense and mystery is built up very carefully and the ending still surprises.
An exciting mystery, with several funny moments too. Well worth reading and highly recommended!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Just another book
Started out OK but a very disappointing conclusion; I expected that all the threads would come finally together. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Richard J. Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read. A black comedy with twists and turns.
Wondered what was going on at the start but got into it and enjoyed the easy humour, the light writing style, the characters. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Ges
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
Very gripping read with believable, if eccentric, characters, and a cleverly interwoven plot. The darkish humour adds to the enjoyment.
Published 25 days ago by Gill Ottewell
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
I loved this book. It is a very clever storyline, several disperate characters eventually weave together in a gripping story that contains murder, mystery, romance and humour. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Elena47
5.0 out of 5 stars I've found a new favourite
I have just finished this book and loved it. Kate Atkinson is now one of my favourites and I have just bought her second Kackson Brodie book - One Good Turn. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Emi D
3.0 out of 5 stars Case histories
I look forward to reading other Kate Atkinson books, if they are as good as this one I am sure I will read many more of her books.
Published 1 month ago by Frankie
4.0 out of 5 stars Book clubs choice
Took a while to get into the story....but this often happens with Kate Atkinson books...but eventually couldnt put it down and have subsequently ordered more of the Jackson Brodie... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Hillyfields
4.0 out of 5 stars Follow the threads
Great how it all comes together in the end but difficult to keep all the stories in your head as you go along.
Published 1 month ago by Mrs Janet Botterill
4.0 out of 5 stars entertaining read!
this is my first book by KA and i was most impressed, particularly by the difficult structure of weaving 4 past/present stories together without losing track. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Zangiku
3.0 out of 5 stars So many names!
There are so many named people in this book and the author keeps suddenly swapping between the various threads of the story. Read more
Published 3 months ago by OmnipotentWizard
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