rating: 4 of 5 stars
Kate Atkinson writes distinct unforgettable novels. Case Historiesis the fourth novel by Atkinson that I’ve read. In this twist on a detective novel, Atkinson weaves together 3 different cold case mysteries–2 sisters whose baby sister went missing decades earlier, a man whose daughter was murdered by an unknown man, and a woman searching for her lost niece. Jackson Brodie is the private investigator working these cases. He’s a bit of a loner with a life that is in shambles. He’s recently divorced and his 8-year old daughter dresses like Britney Spears.
Jackson has never felt at home in Cambridge, never felt at home in the south of England if it came to that. He had come here more or less by accident, following a girlfriend and staying for a wife. For years, he had thought about moving back north, but he knew he never would. There was nothing there for him, just bad memories and a past he could never undo, and what was th point anyway when France was laid out on the other side of the channel like an exotic patchwork of sunflowers and grapevines and little cafes where he could sit all afternoon drinking a local wine and bitter espressos and smoking Gitanes, where everyone would say, Bonjour Jackson, except they would pronounce it “zhaksong”, and he would be happy. Which was exactly the opposite of what he felt now.
Though the subject matter was a bit dark, what with children going missing and people being murdered, the book was still laced with dry British humor. I found myself silently chuckling a few times while reading Case Historieson the train. I didn’t really like Jackson at the beginning of the novel but grew to like him more as the story went on.
We discussed Case Histories in one of my book clubs and it led to a great discussion. We touched on topics such as sibling relationships, parent-child dynamics, and and how people gain closure and re-establish their lives after a tragic event.