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Case Histories: (Jackson Brodie)
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 September 2017
Having thoroughly enjoyed Kate Atkinson's ""Life after life", "A god in ruins" and "Scenes from the museum" I was intrigued to try one of her Jackson Brodie books and the initial volume seemed as good a place to start as any. I always feel that her novels tend to throw in a curved ball to begin with and it takes a while for everything to eventually coalesce before you become totally absorbed in the characters and the stories. This book was no different and the many of the traits within her books seemed to apply to this detective novel. Fans of her writing will enjoy this and it is fair to say that Atkinson has a knack of producing literary novels which are easy to consume,

The plot centres around three crimes including a disappearing child, the senseless murder of a student and the murderous actions of a frustrated housewife. Needless to say, in the typical fashion of this writer things aren't always as clear as they seem and the three "plots" are tied together by the engaging character of Jackson Brodie, a somewhat put upon private detective. Ultimately there is not really a great deal of detective work that does on in this novel and Brodie is principally there to glue the three plots together whilst offering some wry and amusing observations at the same time. There is much to enjoy in this book and if it isn't quite as switched on as a piece of detective fiction as say Reginald Hill's excellent Dalziel and Pascoe novels, the pleasure of reading this book comes from encountering the panoply of interesting characters.

I quickly polished off this book but I felt it lacked the clout of the other three novels by Kate Atkinson I had read which basically knock the wind out of your sails when you have completed them. The longer narrative of these books plunge you in to an entire world whereas the Jackson Brodie book seems to follow a shorter trajectory. Like Hill, the book does have a few anachronisms which amusingly pick up on some cultural references of the 2000's however those reviewers alluding to this book being difficult are wide of the mark. Setting aside any reservations about some of the quite racy content of this novel, it is still a hugely enjoyable read.
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VINE VOICEon 18 February 2013
It amazed me that I had heard a lot of great things about Kate Atkinson and not read one of her books. I'm not sure why. Detective stories aren't my usual genre so maybe that's why. Anyway, I decided to read her first in the Jackson Brodie series.

'Case Histories' is a story about three families, who all have 'cases'. There is Amelia and Julia, sisters of Olivia who went missing aged four. Then there's Theo, whose daughter, Laura, was killed in a seemingly mindless attack. Lastly, Michelle who kills her husband Keith. Her sister contacts Jackson to find her neice, Tanya. Jackson is a private detective and is contacted by these people to solve the crimes that the police haven't been able to.

The book started really well and I was gripped. I love Atkinson's writing style - she makes the tragic almost comic at times. I was eagerly waiting to find out what was going to happen as Jackson himself becomes a target. Easily my favourite character was Jackson's daughter!

Unfortunately, it fell down on a few areas. The outcome of the cases didn't seem worth it. I just thought 'oh.' I had expected the cases to be linked but they weren't really. Tanya seemed to be a kind of 'link' but this was extremely weak and contrived.
My other issues are only small ones but niggled me. Atkinson seems completely obsessed with sex and body parts. I'm not sure it was entirely necessary. Also, I really couldn't stand Julia or Amelia - they seemed very old fashioned. I could not see Jackson's attraction to either of them.

I did enjoy the book and will go on to read the rest in the series. I have pre-ordered her new book - Life After Life - which is a stand alone and looks fantastic. I hope her writing style continues to be as good.
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on 31 July 2015
I do like Kate Atkinson but there are some things about this novel that left me disappointed. Is it absolutely essential that all detectives have disastrous personal relationships because I find them cliched and tiresome. I expected better from Ms Atkinson and towards the end of this book the cliches came thicker and faster.
I had just finished Life After Life which was superb and maybe left me expecting too much. It starts reality well and had me gripped quite soon but I felt the resolutions were not satisfactory or well done and am surprised it had such good reviews when it was first published.
The feeling I got was that she had dummed down for the crime mystery market which is a shame. She is still a superb writer for all my irritations with this book and it definitely is worth reading.
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on 13 February 2017
Beautiful tales told as chapters, each an interconnected vignettes, each individual and with a clear personal perspective. I normally dislike wordy writing, but this expresses so much character for a book of this length. Almost all of the pieces of the story are tragic or sad, yet the whole is somehow warm and comforting.
I enjoyed the tv adaptation, but this is so much more. The outcome for JB is rather different to the tv series and while it fits the story structure it feels unreal, perhaps dreamlike.
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on 9 February 2012
means you end up making reverse comparisons.

Kate Atkinson rose to public notice when her debut novel 'Behind The Scenes At The Museum' won The Whitbread Book Of The Year. This novel, Case Histories, is the first of (currently) four Jackson Brodie novels in which the protagonist is an ex-soldier, ex cop and at the start of this novel, a private investigator. It came to my attention through its recent enjoyable adaptation on the BBC, which was an adaptation of this novel and subsequent Brodie novels One Good Turn and When Will There Be Good News? as a six part series. I'm something of a purist, and though I've seen the adaptation, I don't feel I can read new novel 'Started Early, Took My Dog' until I have read the three preceding novels.

The novel introduces us to three old unsolved cases, that Jackson has been approached with to investigate:

The first is the disappearance of Olivia Land who vanished aged 3 in the 1970's from the family garden, and was never found.

The second is the shock murder of 18 year old Laura Wyre, ten years previously, for whom no killer nor motive could be found.

And the third is a guilt ridden woman searching for her sisters long lost child.

What is interesting is that all three cases are women and 'Lost Girls' seem something of a recurrent theme for Brodie, who himself has an unresolved case of a lost girl in his own life.

What is slightly off-putting when you do see an adaptation first is the differences between the TV and the book, there are subtle differences in each case, but the two most glaring differences are the end of the story (for Jackson) and its setting which, thoroughly Scottish in adaptation is located in Cambridge in the book. This makes some sense though as the two following novels relocate to Edinburgh, so the adaptation just moves all three books there. I did find it interesting whilst watching it, that in the first two episodes which show the stories of Case Histories; all Jackson's clients are clearly English and not just English and living in Scotland, but this goes unremarked on. This is a fault of the series not the book though, which is true to its setting.

It is difficult not to write a review that merely compares book to show, as this is the immediate thought. Unfortunately having seen the show I knew the outcome of each case. In many ways this didn't matter, what is great about Case Histories is that it is neither a crime novel nor solely contemporary literary fiction, crossing both categories admirably. A well written contemporary novel that happens to feature the investigation of mysteries. Perhaps the Land girls story is a cliche, and perhaps Jackson realises what kind of suspect killed Laura Wyre too quickly but he is an ex cop and ex army. The overall novel is very well written and held together nicely by the characterisation of Jackson himself, an extremely likeable man. If you didn't see the series, good as it was, I think you are lucky as you get to view the cases with fresh eyes, enjoy the story and then get the DVD and enjoy watching scary Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs) become smouldering Jackson Brodie.

The ending of Case Histories seems to suggest that further Brodie novels were not planned, but perhaps Atkinson like the reader, finds Jackson Brodie a little hard to resist. I look forward to reading the other novels particularly recent new novel 'Started Early, Took My Dog' 8/10
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on 19 January 2012
I have become desperate to acquire new favourite authors. The technique I use now is to check the customer review section from Amazon first. This has proved very helpful. Thus, I stumbled upon Kate Atkinson's 'Case Histories'. I had never heard of her before. Yet, being my type of book- I love a good detective story, I checked out the reviews and said 'yes'. I am very glad I did.
The work is contemporary, yet classic. Her characters are very well developed. The writing style is superbly crafted. It made the seemingly trivial of mystery's, like the disappearance of a cat, coupled with the very serious disappearance of a child all seem very 'real'. I like the way we start with several mini- stories, cases and how they all get neatly tied up in the end.
The characters are brilliant. These are the people that we know, or seem to know.. That is part of the charm, the pulling power of this book. These people and their fancies, their fears, their concerns are very real.
I would best describe Kate Atkinson's work as a modern day Agatha Christie. Cannot wait to read more.
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on 24 April 2013
I hadn't discovered Kate Atkinson before but having seen reviews of her latest book decided to give her detective series a try. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Told as a series of 'case histories' in different voices, the characters are finely drawn and beautifully brought to life. The central character, Jackson Brodie, is complex and engaging. Despite the often very dark subject matter, there is also a lot of humour in the book. My only minor criticism is that the plot depended on some astonishingly incompetent police work in two separate incidents (which seemed unlikely, although you do read about such blatant errors in the papers). Despite this, it was so well written I found it easy to suspend my disbelief - I was gripped to the end, and finished the book in a single sitting. I will definitely be reading more from this author, starting with the rest of the Jackson Brodie series.
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on 30 June 2017
First of the Jackson Brodie novels.
A good tale, injected with occasional humour.
Well worth reading and once you have you will want the next in the series.
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on 21 August 2014
I have enjoyed other Kate Atkinson novels and was apprehensive about her move into crime fiction as it's not a genre I am particularly keen on. However, was very pleasantly surprised and loved the character development in this novel (I disagree with other reviewers who feel her characters are too 2 dimensional).
I found the book entertaining to the last, but my only slight criticism is that it was all so seamlessly and tidily resolved at the end with improbable coincidences (eg Tanya's re-emergence with Theo towards the end).Didn't spoil the overall experience though on the whole.
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on 2 May 2014
I almost quit reading this book, as Kate Atkinson is a bit too good at writing about things that are difficult to read, in this case, a much beloved child who goes missing. But I'm glad I stuck with it, it resolves many of the cases, but not all, and doesn't cop out with easy resolutions. Jackson is an interesting character and I've just started reading 'One Good Turn' so see what he gets up to next. I particularly liked the mild way he dealt with someone trying to bump him off! Very dry and un-sensational, but in a very good way.
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