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Case Histories (Jackson Brodie Series #1)

Case Histories (Jackson Brodie Series #1)

3.5 382
by Kate Atkinson

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A triumphant new novel from award-winner Kate Atkinson: a breathtaking story of families divided, love lost and found, and the mysteries of fate.

Case One: Olivia Land, youngest and most beloved of the Land girls, goes missing in the night and is never seen again. Thirty years later, two of her surviving sisters unearth a shocking clue to Olivia's disappearance


A triumphant new novel from award-winner Kate Atkinson: a breathtaking story of families divided, love lost and found, and the mysteries of fate.

Case One: Olivia Land, youngest and most beloved of the Land girls, goes missing in the night and is never seen again. Thirty years later, two of her surviving sisters unearth a shocking clue to Olivia's disappearance among the clutter of their childhood home. . .

Case Two: Theo delights in his daughter Laura's wit, effortless beauty, and selfless love. But her first day as an associate in his law firm is also the day when Theo's world turns upside down. . .

Case Three: Michelle looks around one day and finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making. A very needy baby and a very demanding husband make her every waking moment a reminder that somewhere, somehow, she'd made a grave mistake and would spend the rest of her life paying for it--until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.

As Private Detective Jackson Brodie investigates all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge. Inextricably caught up in his clients grief, joy, and desire, Jackson finds their unshakable need for resolution very much like his own.

Kate Atkinson's celebrated talent makes for a novel that positively sparkles with surprise, comedy, tragedy, and constant, page-turning delight.

Editorial Reviews

Jacqueline Carey
Certain characters are the stock in trade of detective novels: innocent female murder victims, embittered spinsters, wives with secrets, teenage runaways, sexy old actresses and men who feel driven to try, over and over, to protect or avenge the downtrodden. Kate Atkinson's latest novel contains all these characters, which might suggest it's just another variation on a host of well-worn themes -- but, amazingly enough, this cast, as familiar as it is, still has the power to ensnare us. In fact, Case Histories is so exuberant, so empathetic, that it makes most murder-mystery page-turners feel as lifeless as the corpses they're strewn with.
The New York Times Sunday Book Review
Janet Maslin
… the lifelike characters in Case Histories are what make it such a compelling hybrid: part complex family drama, part mystery. It winds up having more depth and vividness than ordinary thrillers and more thrills than ordinary fiction, with a constant awareness of perils swirling beneath its surface.
— The New York Times
Jeff Turrentine
Breaking detective-thriller form, Case Histories is told from multiple points of view, reducing the burden on Jackson to "solve" the crimes for us and letting each character bloom in the light of the author's sharp, observant prose. That's something that the genre's hard-boiled forefathers would never have done; for them, the ratiocinative novel was a one-man job, and sympathetic characters just gummed up the works. Kate Atkinson, though, seems to have intuited that the most compelling mystery of all isn't necessarily whodunit, but rather howtodealwithit.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Private detective Jackson Brodie finds himself entangled in three distinctly different cases only to thread the needle time and again and come across remarkable connections between them. Susan Jameson delivers an absolutely stunning performance; her classically trained voice is perfect for Atkinson's prose and the shifting point-of-view narration. Though the lead protagonist is male, listeners will never question Jameson's abilities; she brings raw emotion to this tale and her British dialect also gives the story a vintage mystery feel. As Brodie, Jameson is simply flawless, delivering her words firmly and with resoluteness. Hers is a performance that demands repeated listens. A Back Bay paperback (Reviews, Oct. 25, 2004). (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
Edinburgh resident Atkinson has been touted for her clever subversion of the standard family saga (the Whitbread Prize-winning Behind the Scenes at the Museum), as well as her playful parody and magic realism (Not the End of the World). Now she turns her deft hand to the hard-boiled detective genre and wreaks a similarly wonderful havoc. Cambridge P.I. and Francophile Jackson Brodie serves as the link among three interwoven tales. Red herrings abound as Jackson plows through the sad cases of a missing toddler, a young woman brutally killed while temping at her father's law firm, and an overwrought mother driven to ax murder. The relatives of the victims, Jackson's motley clientele, prove to be alternatively pitiable and hilarious but always painfully human. Superfluous plot elements involving attempts on Brodie's life and the running commentary on Brodie's musical tastes may lead to comparisons with Ian Rankin's Inspector John Rebus series, but only briefly, for this is a very new world of old crimes. Recommended for larger fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/04.] Jenn B. Stidham, Harris Cty. P.L., Houston Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
After two self-indulgent detours, Atkinson proves that her Whitbread Award-winning debut, Behind the Scenes at the Museum (1996), was no fluke with a novel about three interconnected mysteries. They seem totally unrelated at first to private detective Jackson Brodie, hired by separate individuals in Cambridge, England, to investigate long-dormant cases. Three-year-old Olivia Land disappeared from a tent in her family's backyard in 1970; 34 years later, her sisters Amelia and Julia discover Olivia's stuffed toy in their recently deceased father's study and want Jackson to find out what he had to do with the disappearance. Theo Wyre's beloved 18-year-old daughter Laura was murdered by a knife-wielding lunatic in 1994, and he too hires Jackson to crack this unsolved murder. Michelle was also 18 when she went to jail in 1979 for killing her husband with an ax while their infant daughter wailed in the playpen; she vanished after serving her time, but Shirley Morrison asks Jackson to find, not her sister Michelle, but the niece she promised to raise, then was forced to hand over to grandparents. The detective, whose bitter ex-wife uses Jackson's profound love for their eight-year-old daughter to torture him, finds all these stories of dead and/or missing girls extremely unsettling; we learn toward the end why the subject of young women in peril is particularly painful for him. Atkinson has always been a gripping storyteller, and her complicated narrative crackles with the earthy humor, vibrant characterizations, and shrewd social observations that enlivened her first novel but were largely swamped by postmodern game-playing in Human Croquet (1997) and Emotionally Weird (2000). Here, she craftsa compulsive page-turner that looks deep into the heart of sadness, cruelty, and loss, yet ultimately grants her charming p.i. (and most of the other appealingly offbeat characters, including one killer) a chance at happiness and some measure of reconciliation with the past. Wonderful fun and very moving: it's a pleasure to see this talented writer back on form. Agent: Peter Straus/Rogers, Coleridge & White
Stephen King
Not just the best novel I read this year, but the best mystery of the decade. . . . I defy any reader not to feel a combination of delight and amazement.
Entertainment Weekly
Leslie McGill
One of the most enjoyable books in a long time.
Kansas City Star
Elisabeth Egan
CASE HISTORIES combines the suspense of a whodunit with the richly textured plot of a sprawling family saga. The result is top-notch literature - an unforgettable, unclassifiable read.
Chicago Sun-Times
Jacqueline Carey - New York Times Book Review
"CASE HISTORIES is so exuberant, so empathetic, that it makes most murder-mystery page-turners feel as lifeless as the corpses they're strewn with."
Leslie McGill - Kansas City Star
"One of the most enjoyable books in a long time."
Elisabeth Egan - Chicago Sun-Times
"CASE HISTORIES combines the suspense of a whodunit with the richly textured plot of a sprawling family saga. The result is top-notch literature - an unforgettable, unclassifiable read."
Janet Maslin - New York Times
"Grabs hold of the reader and doesn't let go. . . . CASE HISTORIES winds up having more depth and vividness than ordinary thrillers and more thrills than ordinary fiction."
Stephen King - Entertainment Weekly
"Not just the best novel I read this year, but the best mystery of the decade. . . . I defy any reader not to feel a combination of delight and amazement."
From the Publisher
"Not just the best novel I read this year, but the best mystery of the decade. . . . I defy any reader not to feel a combination of delight and amazement."—Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly"

Grabs hold of the reader and doesn't let go. . . . CASE HISTORIES winds up having more depth and vividness than ordinary thrillers and more thrills than ordinary fiction."—Janet Maslin, New York Times"

One of the most enjoyable books in a long time."—Leslie McGill, Kansas City Star"

CASE HISTORIES is so exuberant, so empathetic, that it makes most murder-mystery page-turners feel as lifeless as the corpses they're strewn with."—Jacqueline Carey, New York Times Book Review"

CASE HISTORIES combines the suspense of a whodunit with the richly textured plot of a sprawling family saga. The result is top-notch literature - an unforgettable, unclassifiable read."—Elisabeth Egan, Chicago Sun-Times"

Susan Jameson delivers an absolutely stunning performance.... As Brodie, Jameson is simply flawless.... Hers is a performance that demands repeated listens."—Publishers Weekly

Product Details

Transworld Publishers Limited
Publication date:
Jackson Brodie Series , #1

Meet the Author

Kate Atkinson is the author of six novels - Behind the Scenes at the Museum, which won the Whitbread Award for Book of the Year; Human Croquet; Emotionally Weird; CASE HISTORIES; One Good Turn; and When Will There Be Good News? - and a collection of short fiction, Not the End of the World. She lives in Edinburgh.

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Case Histories 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 382 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Trying to find a smart and savvy mystery that isn't full of ludacris plot twists and flat characters has been like trying to find a unicorn. Seemingly impossible. That is, until I found Kate Atkinson. This book is so intellegently written and it really captured my interest from the very first chapter. But the thing that really amazes me is how much depth the characters have. Often when a novel features so many characters, there isn't enough time for the author to give much depth to any of them, but that isn't the case here. Atkinson manages to delve into the heart of each character and put its contents on the page for the reader to connect with. She made me feel connected to every character and each one is quirky and unique, without being too unbelievable. I also love her sly, snarky writing style. It adds the perfect amount of humor to an already amazing book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was a great read! i just finished it. portions of this book were so heartbreaking that i found them difficult to read-- but as a whole, the book was entirely rewarding. i was sort of obsessed with this book while i was reading it. i, too, couldn't stop thinking about it. yes, it does have a lot of characters. there were a few times where i had to stop and think for a minute (or just charge through and wait to catch up)-- but i was able to keep track well enough to know what was going on. and i'm pretty dumb in that way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
CASE HISTORIES is a novel about three murder mysteries erratically woven together. I bought the book at the recommendation of Stephen King. Yes, that Stephen King. In his column in Entertainment Weekly a couple of years ago, he named CASE HISTORIES as the best book of the year. Perhaps I read it during the wrong year. The first few chapters of the novel introduce a new set of characters in each chapter, without tying them together -- haphazardly -- until much later. Their only connection seemingly being Jackson, a detective trying to solve each cold case crime. There were too many characters and names thrown at the reader to truly enjoy and get to know (or care about) any one of them. I recommend future readers grab a piece of paper and pen before sitting down to read CASE HISTORIES and draw family trees and connections so they know who's who and what time period they're in. It truly helped years ago when I read Truddi Chase's 100+ multiple personality account in When Rabbit Howls. Then again, that book held my interest. As I started to get to know the characters a little bit, the author would end the chapter and start anew with different characters. By the time I got to a second chapter with characters introduced several chapters back, I had already forgotten what their story was and how each interacted with one another. After several chapters like this, I was discouraged. A friend of mine told me to 'stick with it' because after she got through the muck, she got into the story much more. Sadly, I never reached that point. Like the 2007-2008 TV Season, I got interested in the new characters and then they were taken away from me (because of the writers' strike). I had to endure their absences and by the time they returned, I forgot why I liked them in the first place. As for Kate Atkinson's writing, it was reminiscent of Ellen DeGeneres' comic rambling...without the comedy. The author went off on tangents at every possible moment, as if we were leaping from one person's thoughts to another's. There wasn't a specific point of view in the book, as if Atkinson couldn't decide whose viewpoint to use. Another disappointment I found with Atkinson's writing is her account of the violence and murders. They were all written matter-of-factly. No drama, no suspense, no build-up. It was almost...textbook. This, too, made me unsympathetic toward the characters and their bonds with the victims. And when the mysteries were solved and truths revealed, they felt anticlimatic. The ideas were interesting, but they weren't fleshed out in the writing. The author mostly tells you what happened instead of showing it. All in all, although this wasn't the worst book I've read, I was very disappointed after investing in 300 pages. After too long of disinterest, when you finally reach something of interest, you can't muster up the enthusiasm to enjoy it. By then, you already feel cheated by the writer. 'That's it?' Jackson [asked]. 'No, of course it's not,' Amelia said. 'Now we have tea and cake.'
Kay-Z More than 1 year ago
I had to push myself to continue through the first part of this book, and it got a little confusing keeping track of the characters. The story got more interesting as people and events were tied together, and by the end I was really enjoying this book. What surprised me was that I found myself thinking back on some of the characters, and actually quoting one of them to a friend.
EReader54 More than 1 year ago
I will admit I usually avoid British mystery writers but have read a few through the years...Kate Atikinson is one I would actually recommend! Loved the book, loved the premise -- all the different stories and how they all touched each other without being put together in one nicy tidy ending. The underlying story is the relationships between parent and child and relationships between siblings. And, the main character, private detective, Jackson Brodie, is extremely appealing. I look forward to reading more books in this series.
TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
Often, I find mysteries to be a bit predictable in nature. For this reason, I typically steer clear of them. However, my book club picked Case Histories for this month and although it's definitely a mystery, it's sort of veiled in its delivery. Meaning, it doesn't hit you over the head with its mysterious-ness. Each case is, well.a tad shocking. Shocking in that these characters tend to think out loud and their observations and feelings over a particular person, place or thing are so honest that at times, you suck in a breath and say, "Wow." I believe the idea was to have the stories alternate, and then eventually mesh into one. This happens, but rather loosely. You aren't given all the details, but given enough to know what happens by the end of the novel. Although the result was a tad predictable, what happens within each case, is not. In the end, I'm not sure I liked how the cases came together. I almost like them better as stand-alone stories. As I read each case, I was left wondering about the people within them. As horrible as some of these characters are, I could easily relate to them. But given the entire situation, I lost the ability to relate to them. Well, some of them. As you can see, this review is a collection of my rambling thoughts because this reading experience left me rather antsy. It wasn't a short story collection but in my opinion it didn't really read like a novel either.
jburke More than 1 year ago
I must confess that the first Kate Atkinson book I read was "Left Early, Took My Dog" which is the 4th of the Jackson Brodie Series. So I went and read "Case Histories" and it was wonderful. Jackson, a ex-soldier, ex-policeman, decides to try being a private detective and the 3 cases in this novel all touch him in some way. He is a great detective, just he is a bit tired of following the chain of command. The characters are well rounded and vibrant. Jackson is rather laid back in personality but very observant. He has some personal things to work out (like an ex wife and a young daughter) as do us all. The plot has lots of turns and deals a lot with missing people and missing life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't waste your time - This was a free ebook and so far I have enjoyed all the free books - but this one was a waste of time. I read the reviews and they said stick with the book and it would get better - not true I read to the end and it did not get better. It was only 268 pages and took me two weeks - normally I ready about 400 pages a week - this book never got my attention.
MsVierne More than 1 year ago
I almost never fail to finish a book, but it was very difficult at times to continue with this one. I found the storyline to be eratic, and at times quite difficult to follow. When the various pieces finally started to come together, this seemed rushed, as if the book couldn't go beyond a specified number of pages. In retrospect, the story of the book is interesting, but the eratic approach just didn't work, at least not for me.
starlia More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time putting this book down from the moment I started reading the first case. The characters are well developed. The only reason I didn't get the book five stars is the fact that the stories do jump around a bit and it's hard to keep up with the characters. Towards the ending all the stories come together and really make it a must read. The reason I had to read the book is a review from Stephen King. He said "Not just the best novel I read this year, but the best mystery of the decade. . . . I defy any reader not to feel a combination of delight and amazement."
Rhoduh55 More than 1 year ago
I'm certainly glad I only paid $1.99 for this, otherwise I would have been upset spending a lot money for nothing. Too many characters that jump from one chapter to another and the only thing that ties all the murders together is the detective. Forced myself to fininsh it because I can't stand to start a book and not finish it....no matter had badly it is written. Recommendation.....don't bother with this one. I have permanently deleted this from my library!
MichelleMCA More than 1 year ago
This book was such a waste of time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
1. Too much time passes between the introduction of the cases and the climax of the story. 2. You are pulled back and forth between plots that are so poorly put together that you pretty much miss the connection. 3. Characters, clues, and connections are introduced in such a seperated method that you may not read about another for almost five chapters! By then you are going through a mental refresher so that you can keep up.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1970 four year old Olivia Land and her two sisters Julia and Amelia are having a sleep out in their backyard. When Julia and Amelia awaken the next morning, they find Olivia is gone. Thirty-four years later, the two sisters find Olivia¿s favorite toy Blue Mouse in their recently deceased father¿s house. They hire private investigator Jackson Brodie to see if he can learn what happened to her.......................... In 1979, Theo is thankful that his eighteen year old daughter works in his office instead of traveling to dangerous countries like her friends are doing. The safety of his office is only an illusion when a bland looking man slits Laura¿s throat. The killer escapes. Decades later Theo hires Jackson Brodie to track down the culprit................................. Also in 1979, a depressed and sleep-deprived Michelle, after giving birth to her daughter Tania, kills her husband with an axe when he wakes the baby up. Years later, Michelle¿s sister Shirley hires Jackson to find her niece........................ While Jackson is juggling these three cases, someone cuts his brake lines causing him to have an accident and a few days later, someone blows up his house. The incidents may relate to any of the three cases he is working on but he is not about to drop them because he understands their need for closure and wants to give it to each of them........................ The three cases don¿t connect in any way except through Jackson, who finds himself emotionally involved with his clients who are in deep anguish. Jackson has compassion and empathy for people he sees as victims. Readers will care for him and hope that the turmoil in his personal life will end happily............................ Harriet Klausner
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
Case Histories is the first book in the Jackson Brodie series by popular British author, Kate Atkinson. The background facts on several unrelated cases are presented: the disappearance of a toddler thirty-four years previous; the slaying by knife in broad daylight of a solicitor’s daughter ten years ago; the disappearance of a daughter whose mother went to jail for the murder of her father twenty-five years before; an old woman who is convinced her black cats are being abducted. PI Jackson Brodie, ex-Military Police, ex-cop, is the link between all these disparate cases. But as Jackson investigates, the lines dividing the cases begin to blur and people left behind enter each other’s stories. And it seems Jackson has an unsolved case in his own past as well. Atkinson’s format may deter some readers, as the three cases in the first chapters seem both unrelated and unfinished, but persistence is rewarded with an excellent mystery/drama that will leave the reader eager for more. Atkinson has a wonderful way with words and some of her passages are superbly evocative: “Right up until the end Victor’s mind had been as methodical as an efficient library, whereas Amelia felt hers was more like the cupboard under the stair where ancient hockey sticks were shoved beside broken hoovers and boxes of old Christmas decorations, and the one thing you knew was in there – a 5-amp fuse, a tin of tan shoe polish, a Philips screwdriver – would almost certainly be the one thing you couldn’t lay your hands on.” and vividly descriptive: “Her mad hair looked as if it had been groomed by a troupe of circus dogs.” Jackson is a very likeable character, flawed, but trying to do the right thing. Other characters are recognisable as people we encounter in our everyday lives: eccentric old women, homeless waifs, fat geezers, precocious young girls. There may be no classic denouement, but this is nonetheless a clever and funny detective story.
NookwormWA More than 1 year ago
Stephen King was wrong.
chairo More than 1 year ago
My concern for any well informed reader is don't take a chance on this book. The "sample" is so void of the mystery content there is no way you'll know if this is a book worth reading. So, don't buy it. You will just through away the $2.00 you can spent on a book worth your time, money and effort you get what you pay for. With Case Histories you will not even get the worth of the $2.00. Chairo.
carcie55 More than 1 year ago
This is a cracking good story, held interest from the first page to the last. Kate Atkinson cleverly weaves the plots of the "cases" together, peopled by interesting folk just making it desirable to know them better. It is a combination of a mystery story, psychological study, family/relationship study. Would be a great discussion book for a book group. Some violence, one must note, but would be hard to have a book beginning with mysteries without this. Perhaps the worst criticism would be a "too pat" ending for the multi-characters, but in the world of today, with so much seeming to end badly, it is actually rather nice. This reader is going to find more books by this author to enjoy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in one sitting. Loved it. Not for the faint of heart. Quirky. Not for the 'romance readers' Came online to order other books by this author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely amazing! I could not put it down and I highly recommend this book if your into mysteries and suspense. Great Read!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although this book was highly rated I found it very disappointing. The characters were not interesting or fully developed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was well done. The characters are either likeable or interesting enough that you want to find out what happens to them. Not for the faint of mind, however, as there are a lot of characters and it takes a bit of focus to hold it altogether. The climax and endings seem a bit rushed but there is closure to most of the plots. The characters are engaging and it would be lovely to see what happens to them next.
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