Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

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I have been a huge Kate Atkinson fan since “Life after Life”, and so it was that I picked up this older title full of expectation.  I wasn’t disappointed!!  Case Histories is exactly that: the history of 3 cases of retired police inspector turned private investigator Jackson Brodie.  Thirty years after incident of the first case (a missing child), Brodie begins to make connections with case two (young daughter is randomly slaughtered in her father’s law office) and case three (a new young mother finds being a wife and mother not to her liking).  Brodie’s own life overlays the complexities of these cases – he is divorced and has a young daughter with whom he is trying to keep connecting.

Jackson Brodie, Atkinson’s investigator, headlines in 3 more of her novels.  He is a likeable and sympathetic character who gives you laugh-out-loud moments, as well as empathetic head-shaking.   Relationships are at the heart of this novel, not the crimes committed, and the development and interconnectedness of these relationships are what make this a great read. Atkinson is a true architect of story building.  The layers of each story – told from multiple viewpoints and varying points in time – add to the reader’s growing understanding of these relationships, the characters’ motivation and actions as each case develops.  As a result, this is not easy reading and some readers may find it confusing. But the end result is worth the effort, and hopefully you will find yourself, like I, looking forward to Brodie’s antics in book two – One Good Turn.

This title received a 3.5 star rating out of 5 on Goodreads: an online community of readers.

Barb Philp is a librarian with the Thunder Bay Public Library (www.tbpl.ca)

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