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Case Histories

(Jackson Brodie #1)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  87,567 ratings  ·  6,671 reviews
Cambridge is sweltering, during an unusually hot summer. To Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, the world consists of one accounting sheet - Lost on the left, Found on the right - and the two never seem to balance.

Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, his own life haunted by a family tragedy, Jackson attempts to unravel three dispar
Paperback, 428 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Black Swan (first published September 1st 2004)
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Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-completed
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series. I have read three of her other novels, and as I said in one of my reviews, if I could be an author, I would want to be Kate Atkinson – or, at the very least, be able to write with her vast toolbox of skills and imagination.

This novel, the first of the series, is indeed about ‘case histories’. Jackson Brodie had a rough personal life in ways that are gradually revealed throughout this novel. Professionally, he was in the arm
Sep 11, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pub-2004
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'
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first in Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series, and is a reread for me. I first read this many years ago and I still harboured dim and distant, vaguely unsatisfying, memories of the book, this time I found it a much better experience, the cold case mysteries slotted together with greater ease on a second reading. One of the mysteries, of course, is Jackson himself, a retired ex-cop, with an ex-wife, and a daughter that lives with her mother, and now working as a PI. He unravels murde ...more
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2019
I first read this many years ago and although I know I enjoyed it very much I could not remember any details at all. It all came back very quickly once I started reading.

Case Histories is a very apt title as the book starts with three very different cold cases, each apparently independent of the others. As the book progresses the wonderful Jackson Brodie appears and in his hands it turns out the cases are not completely separate after all. Brodie is an excellent character who gets by despite lif
Case Histories- Jackson Brodie # 1- by Kate Atkinson is a 2007 Little, Brown and Co. publication.

Jackson Brodie, private detective, has an interesting case load: A father looking for the man who viciously murdered his daughter, an elderly lady with so many cats, Jackson must help her look for them, a pair of eccentric sisters looking for the truth about their missing sister, and the sister of an ax murderer is looking for her runaway niece.

The cases are ones where a client wished to investigat
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best detective novels I have read in a really long time. Set mostly in Cambridge, England, it's the story of a private detective as he tries to solve three cold cases (I mean, REALLY cold - the most recent crime is still 10 years old) as they all interweave and mix in with personal life. In theory, the plot is nothing special; some missing persons and murder cases, and the details are revealed as the story develops, and the detective's personal life is a mess and someone is tr ...more
Dec 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I finally finished this one. It's hard when you have so little time to read. In the beginning I thought the story was a bit slow and I couldn't get in the story very well, but I guess that's more my own problem, reading no more than a few pages each day, having to read back all the time to get into the story again. The last days I spent time with this book and found the interwoven stories quite special as well as the way it all comes together. I love Jackson. And the stories and characters ...more
“Right up until the end Victor’s mind had been as methodical as an efficient library, whereas Amelia felt that hers was more like the cupboard under the stair where ancient hockey sticks were shoved in 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”.

Kate Atkinson has a satisfying knack of presenting a
Aug 18, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 murde ...more
Sep 24, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: fiction
I really, really disliked this book. I was ready to put it down by page 20, but slogged on. If this was supposed to be a "literary thriller," it failed miserably on both accounts. On top of Atkinson's cliched writing style, there were multitudes of plot strands that were ridiculously and not credibly interwoven; many parents (again, not credibly) indifferent to their children; a toll of murder, death, attempted murder, rape, and sexual abuse that had risen almost too high to count by the end (gr ...more
May 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction

What a joy it is to not only discover an author I haven't read before, but to read a book which I did not want to put down! That is the effect that this novel had on me. As a long-time reader of crime fiction, it is also a joy to read such a literate and character-driven mystery, which does not fit neatly into any particular crime fiction sub-genre. While crimes are committed and a detective is there to solve them, neither the crimes themselves nor their resolution are what makes the novel live
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Here I am, I have just finished the book and I find myself baffled and surprised by what I have read.... I want to start immediately with my review "ugly, dirty and mean" but this time I try to hold back and explain better why this book does not stand and it is a shadow of something else.
The supporting plot that is presented at the beginning is definitely intriguing, you are thrown the right amount of curiosity to go on reading and understand what happened to little Olivia...
and it is right here
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: Rosemary married their father Victor when she was eighteen years old - only five years older than Sylvia was now. The idea that Sylvia might be grown up enough in five years time to marry anyone struck Rosemary as ridiculous and reinforced her belief that her own parents should have stepped in and stopped her marrying Victor, should have pointed out that she was a mere child and he was a thirty-six year old man. She often found herself wanting to remonstrate with her mother and father a ...more
Jackson Brodie, ex-army, ex-police is working as a PI when three cold cases are brought to his doorstep. One involves the killing of a beloved teenage daughter still missed by her father ten years later, one is the case of a missing child presumed dead thirty years before and the third is woman looking for her niece, estranged as a baby, who would now be twenty five. Seemingly unconnected and unsolvable after the time that has elapsed, all three cases will be solved by Jackson over the course of ...more
Sep 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely a page-turner! And one that relies not on plot alone, but on character development much more, which makes it my kind of page-turner. I truly didn't ever want to put it down.

I ended up feeling that I knew these people and missed them when I was finished. Atkinson is deft at handling several complex storylines and, as only some of the characters' stories end up overlapping (at least as far as they know), I appreciated the realism of some events being known by only the reader. I also en
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Because that was how it happened: one moment you were there, laughing, talking, breathing, and the next you were gone. Forever. And there wasn’t even a shape left in the world where you’d been, neither the trace of a smile nor the whisper of a word. Just nothing.”

Kate Atkinson's Life After Life is one of my all time favorites, so I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to start this series.

This is an addictive read (I couldn't put it down once started, so finished it in two sittings), the wri
Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: greatbooks
This book falls under 2 genres - mystery and family drama - and I would argue that it is much more than the sum of its parts. Every character was incredibly real, incredibly flawed, and incredibly complex. Having said that, Case Histories feels like a light read because of Atkinson's great wit.

Atkinson has a talent for weaving together 3 seemingly unrelated stories, all with themes loss, innocence, and healing. While many of the characters are female, the central character is Jackson Brodie, a
Richard Derus

Rating: 2* of five (p102)

First of the hugely popular Jackson Brodie series of mysteries set in Scotland, this book comes super-positively blurbed by Stephen King, recommended by site royalty, and could not possibly have left me more flat, uninterested, and even impatient.

"The rain's easing off," he said, and Caroline said, "Yes, I think it is." He stood up and escorted her outside. The dogs had been asleep and now made a great performance of welcoming
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can not get used to this writing style of rambling. It is like reading the jumbled and erratic thoughts of someone who is easily distracted. One thought or subject is not completed in a paragraph before it is changed onto something completely different, and it usually has nothing at all in common with the prior subject being discussed or anything at all in common with the paragraph or even the chapter. This was distracting and made me impatient. It is like having a conversation with someone wh ...more
To be honest, I thought this book was a bit of a mess. The subject matter was often compelling and I deeply appreciated her focus mostly on character rather than plot (which was an especially good choice not only because it played to Atkinson's strengths in psychological drama, but because was pretty easy to guess the resolution of each plot not long after it appeared). She does fairly convincing atmosphere, too. And she definitely committed to her unlikeable characters until the end.

But it's on
Bill Khaemba
“She should have done science, not spent all her time with her head in novels. Novels gave you a completely false idea about life, they told lies and they implied there were endings when in reality there were no endings, everything just went on and on and on.”

I have been in a reading slump but this book was exactly what I needed… I wanted a cool crime novel; I got that and something very different...

I enjoyed this book immensely; I had the 4th book in the series in hardcover so I decided to g
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Kate Atkinson’s first Jackson Brodie mystery, I have to say she is a very talented writer. The story simply flows effortlessly- considering there are 4 storylines, that is truly amazing.
We are introduced to the cases one by one and then we follow Jackson as well as the key players in each case. Each case is riveting. Her skill in maneuvering each story line is perfection.
When it comes to mysteries, I find it best to go in not knowing too much about the book. If you like unique mysteries
I am not a fan of detective novels or police procedurals, but this was written by Kate Atkinson and I have found her other books marvelously inventive and never boring. I’m glad I decided to chance it, because Jackson Brodie is an individual, not a cliche, and Atkinson’s approach to this genre is different than most, as well.

Jackson is a private detective with four cases, and they are different cases, just as a real detective might have. Each of them is interesting and each solved in a realistic
Gahhh, what a mess. The three "case histories" are "connected" by complete coincidence, and only the tiniest possible amount, the characters are complete caricatures and the entire plot was contrived and overblown. I've heard a lot about Kate Atkinson, most of it amazing, but this does not tempt me to read any more of her books... Though it could be worse, I suppose. At least she can string a coherent sentence together.

NOTE: I have since read Life After Life and it is worlds away from this mess.
Diane Challenor
Amazingly good. I didn't want to put it down and I didn't, until I finished the book, 48 hours after beginning, Phew! I'm not a fast reader but I found this a real page turner. It isn't a thriller, but it's a fantastic mystery. I read it and listened to it. The narrator of the audiobook was excellent. It won't be long before I read the next one in the series. I just have to catch my breath first.
Apr 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers
This is the second of Atkinson's Jackson Brodie mystery novels I've read. I've previously enjoyed One Good Turn. To briefly summarize what others have already mentioned, in this novel, Brodie takes on three cold cases and deals with a variety of individuals who vary from eccentric to criminal, from engaging to seemingly insane. Their stories, and the stories of the old crimes, are set up carefully and with wonderful detail, wending their ways back and forth through the book. We see the story thr ...more

This is the first book by Kate Atkinson that I have read. I was torn between giving it 3 or 4 stars, but I ended up going with 3 stars, because the book didn't live up to my expectations.
Case Histories concerned 3 cold cases that Jackson Brodie has been hired to solve. Jackson Brodie used to be a police inspector but now works as a private investigator. The 3 cases all intersect at some point. One case is especially shocking.
I watched the TV series based on this book but it only lasted
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this. It's not your conventional detective mystery; despite a missing toddler and two murders, its emphasis is on the characters rather than the crimes.

Detective Jackson Brodie is dealing with his own emotional baggage, as are the various family members of the three cold cases he's investigating. The result is tragic, quirky, confusing, surprising, frustrating, compelling. I read it in two sittings, such is its complex pull.

Recommended if you like something a little different.
An Odd1
Aug 02, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hodge-podge jumbles sad incoherent unpleasant British murders and warped porn glimpses into a dark vision of humanity. The least hint of warmth, love, is buried, more by atrocities of average citizens gone wrong than extreme villainy, like Holocaust butcher next-door. I lasted for some of the exposition, then skipped to find closure.

Chapters jump from 1970s to 1990s, then names, tangle people, then unravel mysteries. At the start, cute sweet toddler disappears from own back yard, stranger slice
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd never read Kate Atkinson when this book came up as a group read, so I was glad for the opportunity to see for myself whether this series was as good as I'd heard. I wasn't disappointed.

There was definitely a lot to like. The writing is first rate, the dialog well done, and the exposition of multiple concurrent plots is well executed. For the most part the characters - particularly the women, I think - were well conceived.

However, it did seem a bit cluttered, given all the characters of the t
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Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and she has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since.

She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories,

Other books in the series

Jackson Brodie (5 books)
  • One Good Turn (Jackson Brodie, #2)
  • When Will There Be Good News? (Jackson Brodie, #3)
  • Started Early, Took My Dog (Jackson Brodie, #4)
  • Big Sky (Jackson Brodie, #5)

Articles featuring this book

With clever detectives, missing jewels, murderous women, daring spies, and more, mysteries and thrillers deliver page-turning delight with...
310 likes · 350 comments
“She should have done science, not spent all her time with her head in novels. Novels gave you a completely false idea about life, they told lies and they implied there were endings when in reality there were no endings, everything just went on and on and on.” 334 likes
“It wasn't that [he] believed in religion, or a God, or an afterlife. He just knew it was impossible to feel this much love and for it to end.” 28 likes
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