Monday, January 2, 2012Posted by Melissa (Avid Reader)
by Kate Atkinson
There’s something about chilly winter nights that just calls out for reading mysteries. This book is a particularly good choice if you’re looking for one this season. Instead of the typical private investigator fare, the book could more accurately be described as literary crime fiction.
Case Histories feels like an anomaly in the mystery genre. There aren’t the usual detective clichés or cheesy lines. Instead it is distinctly literary, focuses on excellent writing instead of just the case at hand. But it also has a can’t-put-it-down plot that made me read the whole thing in 24 hours.
The plot follows three separate cases, all from different years. They are unrelated, but Jackson Brodie, a private detective, is the common-thread. Because there are three separate mysteries, plus a few side-plots with the detective, there are continuous reveals through out the book. It never becomes a tedious wait for the big finish and by the end the author wraps everything up beautifully.
Mysteries are usually so plot-driven, but the characters in this book are amazingly well-drawn. The first three chapters explain the different cases and each one feels like a short story that could stand on its own. Within a few pages I was completely sucked into each characters’ story. I loved how the they were told from multiple view points. It gives each case an added depth to see the situations from so many different angles. Atkinson also includes parenthesis throughout the book, which I loved. Each one gives extra insight into the characters’ thoughts.
The three cases include a wide variety of characters. There’s a man, Theo, and his sweet daughter Laura; Victor and Rosemary, two people who are incredibly ill-suited for parenting, and their daughters Sylvia, Amelia, Julia and Olivia. Then there’s Michelle, her husband Keith and their baby Tanya. Each family experiences a tragedy that rocks the very foundation of their world.
Jackson’s own issues work their way into the story as well. He and his ex-wife Josie are trying to find a balance, in their newly separate lives, in raising their 8-year-old daughter Marlee. You would think that such a diverse cast of character would be confusing, but each one is so unique that they hold their own spot in your mind as you read each chapter.
If you love a good mystery, but appreciate great characters and writing, don’t miss this one! I’ve already ordered the sequel, One Good Turn, from PaperbackSwap.
"Theo wondered if those people who were destined to die young had some kind of premonition of the shortness of the hours and that gave their life an intensity, a seriousness like a shadow."