Thursday, April 30, 2009

REVIEW: Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

A friend recommended Case Histories to me awhile back. She first asked me if I liked crime fiction and when I said 'no' she said she'd still recommend this book to me. I wasn't sure about it at all and not having read anything by Kate Atkinson before, or indeed anything else recommended to me by this friend, I wasn't very convinced. I thought I'd give it a go during my holiday, and I wasn't disappointed. I will definately look out for more by her, including the sequel, When Will There Be Good News?

Case Histories isn't light reading though. It went straight into three case histories involving a missing little girl, a man who witnesses the violent death of his beloved daughter, a woman suffering from post-partum depression reaching for an axe. All three cases are picked up by an ex-policeman turned private investigator, Jackson Brodie and during the course of the novel the three cases overlap and converge. Whilst it is crime that is being investigated, I'd say that it was less a detective novel and more an in-depth look at personal tragedy and loss. Each character is really developed and unique, each suffering a great deal and handles their own private grief in such different ways.

I loved the bits of humour and irony throughout this book, Kate Atkinson has a great voice and a great eye for detail. She has written such wonderful characters and I thought the layered narrative really worked, going back and forth in time over certain events to see what happened from a different perspective. Highly recommended.

Have you read this book or anything else by Kate Atkinson?


  1. The only one I've read is When Will There be Good News? and I thought that was a very appropriate title - it was so depressing! I also found the coincidences to be too frequent. It was OK, but nothing special.

  2. I've read One Good Turn and When Will There Be Good News and loved them both. You definitely have towillingly suspend disbelief in all the coincidental happenings but I reckon her characterisation more than makes up for that. I definitely want to read Case Histories one day.

    Like you, I don't usually read crime fiction and I don't know why Idon't because I usually really enjoy it if I happen to pick up or be given a crime novel. Weird, huh?

  3. Many years ago I read Behind the Scenes of the Museum and thought it was very good. I have When will there be good news and didn't realise it was a sequel. I wonder if it can be read on its own. Did you know it won Galaxy's best book of the year.

  4. The immediate sequel to Case Histories is One Good Turn, which I reviewed last spring. I'm waiting for When Will There be Good News to come out in paperback - I don't read a lot of crime fiction either, but I really like Kate Atkinson.

  5. Thanks for the review. This looks like an interesting book.

  6. This sounds amazing! All I've read by Kate Atkinson was the essay she wrote for the collection "The Book That Changed my Life", and it was so good it made me want to try her fiction.


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