I love British crime novels, I love Jason Isaacs, and the one time I’ve read anything by her, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Kate Atkinson’s work – so, when Case Histories was a deal of the day for Kindle not long ago, I jumped on it. Case Histories introduces the world to Jackson Brodie, a former soldier and police inspector turned private detective. I first came across this in either Masterpiece Mystery or some Netflix perusal, as it was made a series starring Jason Isaacs as Jackson Brodie. It was some of my first interaction with him after knowing him so well as Lucius Malfoy, and it was great. But, this isn’t a review of his skills in portraying a depressed, divorced P.I., so I’ll just say check it out. I plan to revisit it as I am not sure I got to enjoy the whole series.
Jackson Brodie is a recently-ish divorced private detective taking on cases mostly dealing with suspected affairs and things of the like. Then one day a pair of sisters ask for his help in solving the disappearance of their little sister some thirty years previous. Their father has recently died and they discovered their sister’s missing lovie amongst his things – bringing up all sorts of questions about his potential involvement in the crime. There’s also Theo Wyre, a lawyer who can’t properly address the murder of his daughter ten years prior without knowing who did it and why. A third case is a woman wanting to find her niece who ran away from her grandparents, who assumed custody of her as a toddler when her mother snapped and killed her father with an axe. Throughout the novel Jackson works on these few cases and another important mystery – who is trying to kill him and why.
I really enjoyed this novel. The mysteries are wrapped up fairly neatly, which is much better than never knowing what really happened. There are some chapters that are from points of view other than Jackson, so we get to know some of the main characters fairly well too. I always like when I am not really sure about whodunnit, and each of the mysteries kept me guessing in the end. The first, Olivia’s disappearance, I had some thoughts on that were close but not quite there. I like the way Atkinson writes and perhaps aided by having seen some of the series, I was able to picture quite a lot of this in my head vividly. I like Jackson as a flawed hero. He’s got baggage but he seems fairly normal. I am intrigued with the back story of the murder of his older sister and I wonder if it will play into the other novels. Some of the side characters are a little irritating but well-drawn. The crimes themselves could be more gruesome in different hands, but Atkinson describes them in a non-offensive way. I find myself a bit more sensitive to violence, especially toward children, these days.
I can’t really think of anything negative about this book. Perhaps that I ruined my imagination by watching the show first and therefore can’t picture anyone but Isaacs as Jackson. But, if you like British mysteries, this is probably a good series to start.
PS – I abandoned a book for the first time in years. My Brilliant Friend, soon to be an HBO show, by Elena Ferrante. It wasn’t bad, I just didn’t really care and decided not to waste precious reading hours on something when I didn’t actually care what happened to the characters.