I went back and forth on this one. I think in the end that one of the story-lines that we get introduced to ends up making no sense and was just used to introduce a character who would become important later. Two of the case histories I thought were done very well. That said, I ended up not liking a good portion of the characters we meet except for Jackson and Theo. Everyone else…eh. I also don’t know if I liked the ending that much either. The pacing of the book was so slow too. Since we kept coming back certain cases and people you just didn’t get for a while what was going on.
“Case Histories” follows three cases that will be important later. Case 1 has a family on the brink of disaster it seems (the Lands) the youngest Land, Olivia, is beloved by all and then one day she disappears. Case 2 follows a man who loves his daughter Laura to distraction. However, tragedy occurs and he is left a decade later to mourn her. Case 3 has a wife who in a fit of fury takes an ax to her husband.
Then the book moves onto Jackson Brody. A retired police officer, Jackson is now a private investigator. He barely seems to make any money though and mostly sits around feeling angry that his ex-wife left him for another man. He wants his life back the way it used to be, but doesn’t see that happening. Jackson has a demanding client (who never pays) that wants him looking into her disappearing cats, Theo who wants to find the man who murdered his daughter, and then the older Land sisters who find a clue about what may have happened to their sister who want Jackson to investigate.
Atkinson follows what I would consider the primary characters in third person POV Jackson, Amelia Land, Theo, and a woman named Caroline. I don’t know if I have much to say besides Jackson apparently wants to do good things, but seems to be a terrible private investigator. Ameila Land is obsessed with her sister’s sexuality (Julia) and finds herself attracted to Jackson. Too bad Jackson finds her not attractive and finds himself thinking about Julia. Theo feels badly that he doesn’t love his remaining daughter as much as the one that is lost to him. He can’t let go of finding out who the man was that killed her. Caroline seems weird at first and you don’t tie into who she is until almost the end.
The writing was fine, it just felt like the big as flip flopping back and forth to everyone too much. I just wanted to stay with Jackson and didn’t want to keep seguing back to Amelia, Theo, and Caroline every other chapter. Also some of the characters I just didn’t like such as Caroline. I initially was not too impressed with Jackson until Atkinson reveals his case history. Then I felt really sorry for him. And I ended up dislking his ex-wife everytime she popped up in the book. One wonders how are things going to be now with how Jackson’s life is changed at the end of this book. I did end up liking Theo the best of the characters and felt indifferent towards Amelia.
The book setting changes several times over. Case 1 takes place in the 70s, I think case 2 was the 90s and case 3 was the 80s. Then we are back in the present day with Jackson investigating or mostly obsessing over his ex and worrying about his 8 year old daughter.
The ending for some of the cases was good I thought. One was confusing and disappointing to me. I also thought that the ending for Jackson danced on the absurd and I am curious on how the rest of the series is supposed to go.