Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson

Several apparently unconnected crimes: the disappearance of a little girl, the random murder of a teenager in a solicitor's office, and a wife killing her husband with an axe. These all take place in the seventies, but it's in the present day that Jackson Brodie, an ex-DC turned private eye, is engaged to investigate the cases which, decades later, still have unsolved questions.

I read Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Atkinson, and didn't really click with it, so I had a bit of trepidation about this one, but it turned out to be a great read.

I didn't think the plot really lived up to the promise: while the stories did sort of link up, it felt a bit contrived. And so the ending wasn't fantastically satisfying. Nothing like as good as House of Sleep (which I realise I've not read for over seven years, so it must be time to re-read it), where you finish the book and immediately want to read it again.

But the characterisation was what made the book good: the stories are told from various different perspectives, but the writing style was very good, and each character felt real. It's quite a chatty style, with occasional diversions as the narrators' thoughts get sidetracked, and very effective.

Parts of it reminded me of Maggie O'Farrell, because the same idea of jumping back and forth in time is used as a way of revealing little bits of information which eventually slot together. To start with it was a little confusing because you didn't know whose perspective you'd just switched to, but after a while I just got caught up in it and enjoyed the experience

So very enjoyable, and there are more in the series with Jackson Brodie, so I'll be reading them next

Completed : 09-Jan-2011

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