Monday, July 2, 2012

Case Histories

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson is a book that truly bridges the genres of mystery and literary fiction, possibly more than any other book I've read. The plot juggles several story lines as private investigator Jackson Brodie tries to solve three different cold cases. Despite containing so many mysteries, the most interesting part of the novel didn't seem to be the mysteries themselves, but rather the character portraits that Atkinson paints, from Brodie himself to the various victims who come to him, desperate for answers to their own personal mysteries. 

It's entirely possible that I felt this way because, having seen the film adaptation on PBS's Masterpiece last year, I already knew the solutions to all of the mysteries. I picked up the book in spite of this because I enjoyed the film so much, largely because of the atmosphere it created. It was moody and dark, perfect for watching on a Sunday night in early autumn, which is when it aired. I was slightly disappointed that the book didn't evoke quite the same atmosphere for me. The details were mostly the same in both versions (aside from an Edinburgh setting in the movie that differed from the Cambridge setting of the book), but somehow they seemed less vivid in the book. This bothered me less the further I progressed through the book, but it still left me feeling a bit let down, like the experience of reading the story didn't live up to the expectations I had from watching it (that's probably a first, I know). I do think it's an extremely well written novel, though, and definitely worth reading, particularly if you have the benefit of coming to it without the preconceptions that I had.


  1. that is unusual. normally the book is so much better than the movie! it sounds like an interesting book. i'll check it out!

  2. I have this book on my nightstand. I have been meaning to start it and now I will. I became interested in the writer because of the television show which I really enjoyed. Thanks for the tip, now I am motivated to read it. Have a great week.



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