With a trio of compelling "cold case" mysteries at its core, with its wonderfully sympathet and complex private detective hero, and with its effortlessly beautiful and intelligei prose, Case Histories is Kate Atkinson's breakout book -- the most accomplished, mo compulsively readable novel yet from a writer of the first rank.
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This was one of the strangest books I've ever read. I received it as a gift and was expecting it to be the beginning of a British police procedural series, which is indeed one of my favourite genres. Well, let's just say that the book is English and it is set in modern-day Cambridge, with many, many looks back to earlier time frames like the 1970's and the early 1990's. The book is actually about four separate crimes and they are all connected by one investigator, Jackson Brodie, who is a former police officer and now a private detective. I like Jackson Brodie. He's a smart and very thorough investigator who has a very sad story of his own from his own childhood that has helped make him into the superlative investigator that he is. But, I found the book itself very disjointed and it was hard to follow the storyline because of the four separate tragedies and even harder to get a handle on the characters because each of the four stories has different people and different personalities. I must admit that I felt lost at times when I began a new chapter. The book is actually quite complex, and Ms. Atkinson is very literate and her characters are believable. The stories are all terribly sad, and although all four are solved by the end, it left me feeling strangely unsatisfied with the ending. The book is not anything like I expected, and that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, but the novel felt so unconnected and random that I couldn't seem to get my head around all the plot threads.
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