Case Histories or An Introduction to Jackson Brodie

Kate Atkinson begins her novel “Case Histories” with three very different crimes; a little girl stolen from a tent in her backyard in 1970, a young woman murdered by a random assailant during her first day at an office and a domestic crime in which a postpartum mother takes an axe to her husband’s head. Each crime is seemingly random but time weaves them together and it comes down to Jackson Brodie to restitch the truth. Jackson is former army, former police and currently employed as a private detective in Cambridge, not because he likes living there but to remain close to his daughter Marlee. Jackson is strong and smart, with an innate sense of justice, but also with enough kindness to spend time listening to the tales of an elderly woman who wishes him to find her “missing” cats.

The novel begins when two middle aged sisters, Julia, a flamboyant, struggling actress and her repressed sister Amelia arrive in his life clutching a small toy blue mouse. Blue mouse had disappeared on the night that their sister Olivia had vanished over 34 years ago, and had surfaced in the possessions of their dead father.  At turns very dark, and at other times quite funny, “Case Histories” is the type of book and Jackson Brodie is the type of character that stays with you long after you’ve closed the last page.

Kate Atkinson has done three other Brodie mysteries, the most recent being “Started Early, Took my Dog”, which was just recently published and features another twisted plot involving an abandoned child, an abused dog and a senile actress.  The first three books  will be featured in a BBC series to be broadcast later this spring.

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