Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night.
Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac’s apparently random attack.
Case three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making – with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband – until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.
Thirty years after the first incident, as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge . . .
This is my third novel by Kate Atkinson, and I must say that I found myself rather engrossed, despite the nature of the subject material, which at times is fairly dark and disturbing. The author has a very particular writing style, which may not appeal to some readers – and does take some time to get into.
Case Histories also isn’t a straightforward mystery/crime novel – it delves deeply into past incidents of the character’s lives, as well as their everyday struggles, family secrets and emotional states. The chapters also alternate between the different characters, and switches from the past to the present and back again, so it does take time to establish some sort of flow.
That said, I was intrigued by the three different cold cases that our MC, Jackson Brody, sets out to investigate. Case one, involving a missing toddler, was probably the most interesting and most stomach-churning – do heed my warning. The book is also populated by distinctly flawed, unlikable women, who nevertheless have their own stories to tell. I particularly enjoyed the book’s take on motherhood – specifically those who end up as mothers but who are utterly unsuited to it.
I remember seeing a conversation on Twitter about this book – specifically that in most detective /crime novels, women are merely props; attractive dead victims to further the character arc of the male protagonist. Here, however, Atkinson provides her victims, both dead and alive, a fully fleshed out backstory, and turns them into ‘real’ characters – something which I admire.