Synopses & Reviews
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.
"In this ambitious fourth novel from Whitbread winner Atkinson (Behind the Scenes at the Museum), private detective Jackson Brodie ex-cop, ex-husband and weekend dad takes on three cases involving past crimes that occurred in and around London. The first case introduces two middle-aged sisters who, after the death of their vile, distant father, look again into the disappearance of their beloved sister Olivia, last seen at three years old, while they were camping under the stars during an oppressive heat wave. A retired lawyer who lives only on the fumes of possible justice next enlists Jackson's aid in solving the brutal killing of his grown daughter 10 years earlier. In the third dog-eared case file, the sibling of an infamous ax-bludgeoner seeks a reunion with her niece, who as a baby was a witness to murder. Jackson's reluctant persistence heats up these cold cases and by happenstance leads him to reassess his own painful history. The humility of the extraordinary, unabashed characters is skillfully revealed with humor and surprise. Atkinson contrasts the inevitable results of family dysfunction with random fate, gracefully weaving the three stories into a denouement that taps into collective wishful thinking and suggests that warmth and safety may be found in the aftermath of blood and abandonment. Atkinson's meaty, satisfying prose will attract many eager readers. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. (Nov. 9) Forecast: Blurbs from Rachel Cusk and Jim Crace and elegant, subdued jacket art should remind readers that Atkinson crosses genres, attracting readers of literary fiction as well as thrillers. " Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] compelling narrative drive....Playful humor, an impressive technique, and an offbeat detective with a penchant for weeping are the most obvious pleasures of a page-turner that succeeds in being both brainy and thoroughly entertaining." Booklist (Starred Review)
"[The] complicated narrative crackles with the earthy humor, vibrant characterizations, and shrewd social observations....[A] compulsive page-turner....Wonderful fun and very moving: it's a pleasure to see this talented writer back on form." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] literary star on the rise....Case Histories combines the suspense of a whodunit with the richly textured plot of a sprawling family saga....[T]op-notch literature an unforgettable, unclassifiable read." Chicago Sun-Times
"[O]dd and brilliant....[A] delightful, fascinating, and bitingly funny read. Atkinson has brought to life a marvelously diverse cast of unforgettable characters... (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly
"Ms. Atkinson...grabs hold of the reader and doesn't let go....[A] wonderfully tricky book....To read it is to enter a hall of mirrors....[T]he lifelike characters...are what make it such a compelling hybrid." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"If Case Histories were a typical crime novel, it would be an entertaining adventure....But...in revealing [her characters'] flaws and motivations [she] achieves a richer, more satisfying result that is as much a 'why-done-it' as a whodunit." Denver Post
"Superfluous plot elements...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." Library Journal
"Atkinson's preoccupation with family secrets finds its natural place in a strong, confident plot....In Case Histories, [her distinctive novelistic] skills have found their literary home." Times Literary Supplement (London)
"Extravagantly inventive, exuberantly written, emotionally engaging, richly plotted, unafraid of human frailty, heart-wrenching, and so, so funny, Case Histories is prime Kate Atkinson. My Christmas shopping is done!" Christina Schwarz, author of Drowning Ruth and All Is Vanity
"I think it's her best book yet, an astonishingly complex and moving literary detective story that made me sob but also snort with laughter. It's the sort of novel you have to start rereading the minute you've finished it." Jacqueline Wilson, Guardian Summer Books
"Kate Atkinson's funny, furious fourth novel rumbustiously drives a path through the genre of detective fiction, demolishing its careful, forensic summations of human behavior and replacing them with bloody, believable, vigorous tales of wrongdoing and loss, of personal." Rachel Cusk, author of The Country Life
"Atkinson connects the lives of her ensemble cast of characters with a blithe, fairytale-like narration that can be, at turns, hilarious, macabre and suspenseful, but is blessed at all times with a remarkable lack of sentimentality. She bestows her characters, for the most part, with cruel childhoods and bleak adulthoods, but those good enough, and lucky enough, will be given a chance to solve their mysteries and, perhaps, find happiness." Anna Godbersen, Esquire
(read the entire Esquire review
Case Histories is closest in form, spirit, and accessibility to the Whitbread Award-winning Behind the Scenes at the Museum (St. Martins, 1996), which sold over 100,000 copies.
This new novel from award-winner Atkinson is a breathtaking story of families divided, love lost and found, and the mysteries of fate. As Private Detective Jackson Brodie investigates three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge.
A little girl goes missing in the night.
Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac's apparently random attack.
Case three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making - with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband - until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.
Thirty years after the first incident, as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge . . .
About the Author
Kate Atkinson is the author of the prize-winning Behind the Scenes at the Museum and other acclaimed novels. Her first Little, Brown publication was the story collection, Not the End of the World.