Book #5 Case Studies by Kate Atkinson

“One difference between genre crime fiction and literary fiction is that the first kind of book is usually concerned with what happens to the people who commit crimes while the second cares more about the people they hurt. Although Kate Atkinson’s addictive “Case Histories” has three murders and a detective in it, it’s really an exploration of the loss, grief and misplaced guilt that torment three clients who hire Jackson Brodie, an irresistibly grumpy divorced father working as a private investigator in Cambridge, England.” -Salon

That’s it! I am not reading another STINKING book on Salon’s Top Ten list no matter how much they try to draw me in by comparing it to something Lorrie Moore might write. Honestly, I thought such untruthful comparisons were outlawed by the Supreme Court in the 1980s. Every time I read the back of a book to see some reviewer touting the author as some aborted love child of James Thurber, Dorothy Parker and the crumbs from lunch on Alexander Woolcott’s face I want to wretch. I’m being disenfranchised here!

Salon was right on one thing: Case Histories is addictive. The first three chapters is about a different heartbreaking story which dramatically changes everyone who is in involved. Then, in the fourth chapter a private investigator, who is eventually given these three cases (although some have taken place decades before the current time), is introduced. By the middle of the novel, I was HOOKED. So hooked that I didn’t notice that it was slowly going downhill until it just hit me with an incident that reminded me of the bad detective Advance Reader’s Copy which my father would give me to read when I was in high school to keep me from my back seat
torturing of my sister during long family roadtrips. (Ahh, hot vinyl and the dirty hippie – it makes my fingers convulsively pinch just thinking about it.)

There are these three mysteries which were all extensively investigated by the police and heavily touted in the media. Yet, here comes a private investigator- the kind who has slept with most of his women clients by the time the book is finished – who is able to solve all of them without much work or intuitive insight. All the pieces just easily slide in together. The way that the elements of some cases tie into others proved to be way too convenient to be believable.

In the end, it wasn’t just a matter of it being a book I disliked. The first half enraptured me and had such promise. I felt cheated and disappointed by the end. I want my money and my time back! Heaven knows I missed some ebay auction of a darling cloche which would complete my life so much more than a miserable book would.

2 Responses to “Book #5 Case Studies by Kate Atkinson”

  1. Mark Says:

    Haha I loved how it all worked out! It might have been convenient to a point, but it was so subtly done yet so satisfying I was transfixed. Even if the ridiculous fairytale ending felt silly.

  2. steve Says:

    have you the isbn of the book ‘ case studies’

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