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Case Histories (2005)

Case Histories (2005)

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3.8 of 5 Votes: 1
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0316010707 (ISBN13: 9780316010702)
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About book Case Histories (2005)

This should actually get two stars only but me and Kate Atkinson go way back. I read her 'Behind the Scenes in the Museum' when I was a newbie to the grown-up literature and I loved it. I am quite afraid to go and revisit it now because after reading 'Case Histories' I am not sure if Atkinson can actually write.This is some sort of psychological drama/crime story, so you don't expect the writing to knock you of your feet. However, quite often I read that Atkinson writes 'literary crime fiction' and that is an overstatement at best. And if it isn't an overstatement, then I really don't want to read the non-literary crime fiction.The main character is Jackson, private detective who is trying to resolve 3 or 4 different cases at the same time. There are constant changes of POV and we are stuck in the characters' heads and informed about their every little thought. I think there are way better ways to create a character than to drown the reader in their never ending stream of consciousness.I will give you an example:"The language students all seemed to be dressed in combats, in khaki and comouflage, as if there were a war going on and they were the troops (God help us if that were the case). And the bikes, why did people think bikes were a good thing? Why were cyclists so smug? Why did cyclists ride on pavements when there were perfectly good cycle lanes? And who thought it was a good idea to rent bicycles to Italian adolescent language students? If hell did exist, which Jackson was sure it did, it would be governed by a committee of fifteen-year-old Italian boys on bikes."Well, if hell does exists, I am sure it is filled with books full of hackneyed inner rants. Also, is it me, or is something seriously grammatically wrong with the last sentence I quoted?"Shirley was wearing blue surgical scrubs. Jackson didn't think there was anything much sexier than the sight of a woman in surgical scrubs and wondered if he was alone in thinking that or if most guys did. There should be opinion polls on these things." Opinion polls, what? Why am I reading this?Let's just say that if I wrote anything like the paragraph above my creative writing teacher/consultant would rip me to pieces and tell me to take up knitting.Another thing that annoyed me was a very lazy presentation of the backstory of each 'case'. We are quickly presented with a bunch of stereotypical characters summarised in a couple of sentences so we are left with no doubt as to how we are supposed to feel about them. There were too many subplots that were random and served only as breaking points for another subplots. I only managed to muster enough of enthusiasm to care about one of the 'cases'. There was as well a lot of build-up that promised you God-knows-what but the resolution fell flat on its tits.Actually, f that, I am changing it to two stars.

I'm less enthusiastic about this book than Nikki. I certainly enjoyed the author's wry humor; her characters were both thoroughly imagined and presented with great empathy; and her detective was unique. I also appreciate authors trying to stretch the mystery genre and find ways to alter its railroad-track kind of plotting. All to the good. But her attempt at plot manipulation was confusing at first and eventually just annoying. She told three (or four, depending on how you count) different murder stories, skipping from one to the other without immediately apparent reason. That I could handle; but she also skipped around chronologically in each story, and that was one step too complicated for me. If there had been some emotional payoff for such manipulation, or even a brilliant denouement in which everything from all the plots became clear at once, I could have been more enthusiastic. But there appeared (to me, at least) no particular reason for developing the stories this way, other than simply to do it. I found myself grasping at characters and trying to remember who they were when a plot point would be raised and then not returned to for fifty pages. And it didn't help when one female character whose first husband was named Jessop but who had now remarried, was referred to as Kim Strachan, nee Jessop. In a "normally" plotted book I would have skipped over a mistake like this, but here I was just barely hanging on to characters by my fingernails, and I had to search back to reassure myself that she had indeed been Jessop's wife, not his sister or daughter. This book is about survivors learning to cope with the deaths of loved ones. It does that very well; but shoehorning that into a form that calls for detection and (presumably) punishment left me pretty unsatisfied.

Do You like book Case Histories (2005)?

I'm only giving this book two stars, but it's really better than that. It's just not what I expected, I guess.Case Histories focuses on a set of fictional "cold cases" in England. The characters all end up interacting in various ways with Jackson Brodie, a private detective hired to look into the cases for various reasons. The stories are interesting and compelling, and the characters are okay, but a bit stereotyped. The problem I had with the book is that it's a mystery novel, in essence, but the author never lets you, the reader, figure out the mysteries for yourself. There are one or two things that you could figure out, but by and large, the cases themselves hinge on evidence not presented to the reader until the detective has already figured it out. I found that to be annoying enough to drop my rating.

I'm so glad the last third of the book held up to expectations and quite made up for the middle third that felt a bit like it was going nowhere (in my opinion)...After hearing so much about 'Case Histories' I finally decided to buy it and read it, and although I didn't find it spectacularly amazing, it was for the most part very engaging and very uniquely smart. It's not really a mystery novel, or at least not only a mystery. I think it really shows how we're all connected to each other somehow, even in our unbelievably strange lives, and how this connection can help us get through the strange stuff and make them seem not so bad. Kate Atkinson also has awesome storytelling skills: she's playing a lot with perspectives, of not only her different characters but also her reader. She hides certain very important things or obscures them from the reader, probably to tell us to focus on something else instead. One of the things that fell short for me was that sometimes it went a little overboard with the omniscient narrator's tone/voice... it was overly-dramatic sometimes, making me raise my eyebrows a little. Ha ha, that's probably just me though.

The sweet youngest daughter in the family goes missing one hot summer night. A lawyer's teenage daughter is killed in a senseless act of violence at his workplace. A mother goes crazy after the birth of her daughter and goes to jail for killing her husband. What do these three cases have in common? They have all landed on the desk of private investigator Jackson Brodie. Brodie's got problems of his own. His wife has remarried, his precocious daughter is dressing way beyond her years, and the strange cat lady keeps calling. But all the cases are converging and Brodie keeps finding out things the original investigators missed, and now someone wants to end his life too. Funny, strange, and very personal, Atkinson shines light in the dark and funny spaces in her characters' heads.
—Deborah Joyner

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