Synopses & Reviews
A major event: a new novel by the Whitbread Award winner, her first novel since Emotionally Weird
, and probably her most commercial book yet.
In Cambridge, Jackson Brodie, a private investigator and former police detective, is quietly contemplating life as a divorced father when he is flung into the midst of three resurrected old crimes: a child who mysteriously disappeared from a tent in her back garden; an unidentified man who marched into an office and slashed the throat of a young girl; and a young woman found sitting in her kitchen next to the body of her husband, an axe buried in his head.
As he launches into his investigations, and becomes immersed in the demands of the victims’ families, Jackson has the sinister feeling that someone is following him. As he begins to unearth secrets that have remained buried in the past, he is assailed by his former wife’s plan to take his young daughter away to live in New Zealand. At the same time his stalker becomes increasingly malevolent and dangerous. In digging into the past Jackson seems to have unwittingly threatened his own future.
This wonderfully crafted, intricately plotted novel is heartbreaking, uplifting, full of suspense and often very funny. It shows Kate Atkinson returning to the literary scene at the height of her powers.
About the Author
Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. She has won several prizes for her short stories. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread First Novel Award and was then chosen as the overall 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year. Her critically acclaimed second and third novels, Human Croquet and Emotionally Weird are also published by Black Swan as is her collection of short stories, Not the End of the World.
Reading Group Guide
1. The three cases that open Case Histories
are at first quite separate, and leave you wondering how Atkinson is going to pull it all together into one story. You might discuss whether she is successful at doing that - and how.
2. Case Histories has three unsolved crimes and has a private eye as hero. Kate Atkinson is known as a 'literary writer' and won the Whitbread Prize for her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. How is Case Histories different from a traditional detectvie novel - or is it?
3. Jackson believes 'that his job was to help people be good rather than punish them for being bad.' Another discussion point would be whether you think he is a moral character, and how you feel the revelation of the tragedy in his own past illuminates his actions in the novel.
4. To Jackson, it seems as if everyone he encounters has lost someone or something. One of Kate Atkinson's recurrent themes is that of lost children. In spite of her wicked sense of humour, she creates an overwhelming sense of tension in this novel. Is it that this theme speaks directly to the lost child deep inside every one of us?
5. 'Novels gave you a completely false idea about life, they told lies and the implied there were endings when in reality there were no endings, everything just went on and on and on.' Is Kate Atkinson being mischievous here, or is this statement true of this novel?