Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

I finished Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories the weekend before last, book #35 in my 50 book challenge for the year, and one question looms large: why do so many people hate the ending? I felt there was a good sense of closure, and didn’t feel rushed into it. Also, I’m not sure what part can be called “the” ending, since she’s got about a dozen story lines, all of which have some sort of end.

While I did think that the various mysteries weren’t hard to guess, I didn’t find this problematic. Instead, I was so engrossed with her characters that I was reading to spend time with them. Having a set of difficult mysteries to second guess would have distracted me from them. The central character is a detective named Jackson Brodie, hired by several of the other characters to solve the case histories of the title. The narration revolves among many of these characters, and each voice and view are distinct among the many narrators. I was impressed by how Atkinson kept the reader grounded, reminding throughout of times, dates and ages, rather than expecting me to flip back and forth. Additionally, she was quite good at jumping the narrative ahead over some big revelation, then going back to it later, through another character’s viewpoint. This never felt contrived to me. Atkinson had a smooth authorial control that kept things moving along at a fast, but not breakneck speed.

I so loved the characters that I regretted when I finished the book, and regretted even more that I had to start my next one right away. I got Case Histories from the library, but am going to buy a copy. I would like to read it again, and soon. Now that I know the endings, I can examine Atkinson’s crafted writing at a more leisurely pace.

Buying the book, though, has not yet occurred because it has not been easy. I asked my friend Queenie, who works at a bookstore to pick up a copy for me. She checked three of the biggest stores nearby, none of which had a copy. Case Histories was published in October, and stores don’t often reorder hardcovers after six months, since the trade paperback will be out in a few months. So if you’re thinking that you’ll browse through it the next time you’re in a shop, you may be out of luck. I will probably be purchasing from Amazon.

As you can see from the link above, I am now an Amazon associate, so if you purchase anything from them by following a link from me, I will receive a tiny percentage, which will go to further books and DVDs to review here. I will get a general link set up soon. I know you kind readers have many options of buying books, and probably more than one site through which you could purchase, so I thank you in advance for any consideration.

3 Responses to “Case Histories by Kate Atkinson”

  1. Susan Says:

    I’m a huge Kate Atkinson fan, so I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed Case Histories. My favorite is Human Croquet; give it a try if you haven’t read it already.

  2. carolyn Says:

    you may have convinced me to get that book. in a few weeks. when i’ve lowered the current stack a little. maybe. :)

  3. girldetective Says:

    Ack! Human Croquet! I was going to pick up Behind the Scenes and give it a try, and now there’s another option. My stack will never get lower!