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Case histories / Kate Atkinson.

By: Atkinson, Kate.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookSeries: Atkinson, Kate. Jackson Brodie: 1.; Jackson Brodie: 1.Publisher: London : Doubleday, 2004Description: 304 pages.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 0385607997; 0385608101; 0316740403.Subject(s): Private investigators -- Fiction | Private investigators -- England -- Cambridge -- Fiction | Brodie, Jackson (Fictitious character) -- Fiction | Interpersonal relations -- Fiction | Private investigators -- England -- Cambridge -- Fiction | Detective and mystery stories | Cambridge (England) -- FictionGenre/Form: Detective and mystery fiction.DDC classification: ATK
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Full of suspense and heartbreak, 'Case Histories' is a feat of bravura storytelling that conveys the mysteries of life, its inanities and its hilarities. Jackson is 45 but feels much older. Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, his own life is brought sharply into focus.

Kotui multi-version record.

11 18 24 37 44 60 65 67 80 83 89 91 93 94 96 98 110 122 124 125 130 131 142 149 177

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

1 Case History No. 1 1970 Family Plot How lucky were they? A heat wave in the middle of the school holidays, exactly where it belonged. Every morning the sun was up long before they were, making a mockery of the flimsy summer curtains that hung limply at their bedroom windows, a sun already hot and sticky with promise before Olivia even opened her eyes. Olivia, as reliable as a rooster, always the first to wake, so that no one in the house had bothered with an alarm clock since she was born three years ago. Olivia, the youngest and therefore the one currently sleeping in the small back bedroom with the nursery-rhyme wallpaper, a room that all of them had occupied and been ousted from in turn. Olivia, as cute as a button, they were all agreed, even Julia who had taken a long time to get over being displaced as the baby of the family, a position she had occupied for five satisfying years before Olivia came along. Rosemary, their mother, said that she wished Olivia could stay at this age for ever because she was so lovable . They had never heard her use that word to describe any of them. They had not even realized that such a word existed in her vocabulary, which was usually restricted to tedious commands -- come here, go away, be quiet, and -- most frequent of all -- stop that . Sometimes she would walk into a room or appear in the garden, glare at them and say, whatever it is you're doing, don't , and then simply walk away again, leaving them feeling aggrieved and badly done by, even when caught red-handed in the middle of some piece of mischief -- devised by Sylvia usually. Their capacity for wrongdoing, especially under Sylvia's reckless leadership, was apparently limitless. The eldest three were (everyone agreed) 'a handful', too close together in age to be distinguishable to their mother so that they had evolved into a collective child to which she found it hard to attribute individual details and which she addressed at random -- Julia- Sylvia- Amelia- whoever you are -- said in an exasperated tone as if it was their fault there were so many of them. Olivia was usually excluded from this weary litany; Rosemary never seemed to get her mixed up with the rest of them. They had supposed Olivia would be the last to occupy the small back bedroom and that one day the nursery-rhyme wallpaper would finally be scraped off (by their harassed mother because their father said hiring a professional decorator was a waste of money) and be replaced by something more grown-up -- flowers or perhaps ponies, although anything would be better than the Elastoplast pink adorning the room that Julia and Amelia shared, a colour that had looked so promising to the two of them on the paint chart and proved so alarming on the walls and which their mother said she didn't have the time or money (or energy ) to replace. Now it transpired that Olivia was going to be undertaking the same rite of passage as her older sisters, leaving behind the -- rather badly aligned -- Humpty-Dumptys and Little Miss Muffets to make way for an afterthought whose advent had been announced, in a rather offhand way, by Rosemary the previous day as she dished out a makeshift lunch of corned-beef sandwiches and orange squash on the lawn. 'Wasn't Olivia the afterthought?' Sylvia said to no one in particular, and Rosemary frowned at her eldest daughter as if she had just noticed her for the first time. Sylvia, thirteen and until recently an enthusiastic child (many people would have said overenthusiastic), promised to be a mordant cynic in her teenage years. Gawky, bespectacled Sylvia, her teeth recently caged in ugly orthodontic braces, had greasy hair, a hooting laugh and the long, thin fingers and toes of a creature from outer space. Well-meaning people called her an 'ugly duckling' (said to her face, as if it was a compliment, which was certainly not how it was taken by Sylvia), imagining a future Sylvia casting off her braces, acquiring contact lenses and a bosom, and blossoming into a swan. Rosemary did not see the swan in Sylvia, especially when she had a shred of corned beef stuck in her braces. Sylvia had recently developed an unhealthy obsession with religion, claiming that God had spoken to her. Rosemary wondered if it was a normal phase that adolescent girls went through, if God was merely an alternative to pop stars or ponies. Rosemary decided it was best to ignore Sylvia's tête-à-têtes with the Almighty. And at least conversations with God were free, whereas the upkeep on a pony would have cost a fortune. And the peculiar fainting fits that their GP said were on account of Sylvia 'outgrowing her strength' - a medically dubious explanation if ever there was one (in Rosemary's opinion). Rosemary decided to ignore the fainting fits as well. They were probably just Sylvia's way of getting attention. Rosemary married their father Victor when she was eighteen years old -- only five years older than Sylvia was now. The idea that Sylvia might be grown-up enough in five years' time to marry anyone struck Rosemary as ridiculous and reinforced her belief that her own parents should have stepped in and stopped her marrying Victor, should have pointed out that she was a mere child and he was a thirty-six-year-old man. She often found herself wanting to remonstrate with her mother and father about their lack of parental care, but her mother had succumbed to stomach cancer not long after Amelia was born and her father had remarried and moved to Ipswich, where he spent most of his days in the bookies and all of his evenings in the pub. If, in five years' time, Sylvia brought home a thirty-six-year-old, cradle-snatching fiancé (particularly if he claimed to be a great mathematician) then Rosemary thought she would probably cut his heart out with the carving knife. This thought was so agreeable that the afterthought 's annunciation was temporarily forgotten and Rosemary allowed them all to run out to the ice-cream van when it declared its own melodic arrival in the street. The Sylvia-Amelia-Julia trio knew that there was no such thing as an afterthought and the 'foetus', as Sylvia insisted on calling it (she was keen on science subjects), that was making their mother so irritable and lethargic was probably their father's last-ditch attempt to acquire a son. He was not a father who doted on daughters, he showed no real fondness for any of them, only Sylvia occasionally winning his respect because she was 'good at maths'. Victor was a mathematician and lived a rarefied life of the mind where his family were allowed no trespass. This was made easy by the fact that he spent hardly any time with them: he was either in the department or in his rooms in college and when he was home he shut himself in his study, occasionally with his students but usually on his own. Their father had never taken them to the open-air pool on Jesus Green, played rousing games of Snap or Donkey, never tossed them in the air and caught them or pushed them on a swing, had never taken them punting on the river or walking on the Fens or on educational trips to the Fitzwilliam. More like an absence than a presence, everything he was -- and was not -- was represented by the sacrosanct space of his study. They would have been surprised to know that the study had once been a bright parlour with a view of the back garden, a room where previous occupants of the house had enjoyed pleasant breakfasts, where women had whiled away the afternoons with sewing and romantic novels, and where in the evenings the family had gathered to play cribbage or Scrabble while listening to a radio play. All of these activities had been envisaged by a newly married Rosemary when the house was first bought -- in 1956, at a price way beyond their budget -- but Victor immediately claimed the room as his own and somehow managed to transform it into a sunless place, crammed with heavy bookshelves and ugly oak filing cabinets, and reeking of the untipped Capstans that he smoked. The loss of the room was as nothing to the loss of the way of life that Rosemary had planned to fill it with. From the Trade Paperback edition. Excerpted from Case Histories by Kate Atkinson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Edinburgh resident Atkinson has been touted for her clever subversion of the standard family saga (the Whitbread Prize-winning Behind the Scenes at the Museum), as well as her playful parody and magic realism (Not the End of the World). Now she turns her deft hand to the hard-boiled detective genre and wreaks a similarly wonderful havoc. Cambridge P.I. and Francophile Jackson Brodie serves as the link among three interwoven tales. Red herrings abound as Jackson plows through the sad cases of a missing toddler, a young woman brutally killed while temping at her father's law firm, and an overwrought mother driven to ax murder. The relatives of the victims, Jackson's motley clientele, prove to be alternatively pitiable and hilarious but always painfully human. Superfluous plot elements involving attempts on Brodie's life and the running commentary on Brodie's musical tastes may lead to comparisons with Ian Rankin's Inspector John Rebus series, but only briefly, for this is a very new world of old crimes. Recommended for larger fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/04.] Jenn B. Stidham, Harris Cty. P.L., Houston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

In this ambitious fourth novel from Whitbread winner Atkinson (Behind the Scenes at the Museum), private detective Jackson Brodie-ex-cop, ex-husband and weekend dad-takes on three cases involving past crimes that occurred in and around London. The first case introduces two middle-aged sisters who, after the death of their vile, distant father, look again into the disappearance of their beloved sister Olivia, last seen at three years old, while they were camping under the stars during an oppressive heat wave. A retired lawyer who lives only on the fumes of possible justice next enlists Jackson's aid in solving the brutal killing of his grown daughter 10 years earlier. In the third dog-eared case file, the sibling of an infamous ax-bludgeoner seeks a reunion with her niece, who as a baby was a witness to murder. Jackson's reluctant persistence heats up these cold cases and by happenstance leads him to reassess his own painful history. The humility of the extraordinary, unabashed characters is skillfully revealed with humor and surprise. Atkinson contrasts the inevitable results of family dysfunction with random fate, gracefully weaving the three stories into a denouement that taps into collective wishful thinking and suggests that warmth and safety may be found in the aftermath of blood and abandonment. Atkinson's meaty, satisfying prose will attract many eager readers. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. (Nov. 9) Forecast: Blurbs from Rachel Cusk and Jim Crace and elegant, subdued jacket art should remind readers that Atkinson crosses genres, attracting readers of literary fiction as well as thrillers. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Like Donna Tartt in The Little Friend0 (2002), 1995 Whitbread winner Atkinson ( Behind the Scenes at the Museum0 ) here combines a compelling narrative drive with sophisticated psychological portraits and telling detail. Artfully exploiting the conventions of the detective novel while also sending them up, Atkinson gives us Jackson Brodie, the world's most empathic private eye, who seemingly channels his clients' grief while attempting to provide closure. Addicted to the plaintive songs of female country-and-western singers and heartsick over the breakup of his marriage and his separation from his daughter, Jackson becomes friend and confidant to the people who seek his aid. One of his cases involves the florid, bickering Land sisters, who, after cleaning out their father's house upon his death, are stunned to find the bedraggled blue bunny that was their sister's most prized possession before she went missing 30 years ago. Another case concerns lonely, obese Theo, who, out of concern for his daughter's safety, insisted that she work in his law office rather than as a bartender, only to find that he put her directly in harm's way. As Jackson methodically tracks down decades-old clues, Atkinson employs omniscient narration to step in and out of crime scenes both past and present. Playful humor, an impressive technique, and an offbeat detective with a penchant for weeping are the most obvious pleasures of a page-turner that succeeds in being both brainy and thoroughly entertaining. --Joanne Wilkinson Copyright 2004 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

After two self-indulgent detours, Atkinson proves that her Whitbread Award-winning debut, Behind the Scenes at the Museum (1996), was no fluke with a novel about three interconnected mysteries. They seem totally unrelated at first to private detective Jackson Brodie, hired by separate individuals in Cambridge, England, to investigate long-dormant cases. Three-year-old Olivia Land disappeared from a tent in her family's backyard in 1970; 34 years later, her sisters Amelia and Julia discover Olivia's stuffed toy in their recently deceased father's study and want Jackson to find out what he had to do with the disappearance. Theo Wyre's beloved 18-year-old daughter Laura was murdered by a knife-wielding lunatic in 1994, and he too hires Jackson to crack this unsolved murder. Michelle was also 18 when she went to jail in 1979 for killing her husband with an ax while their infant daughter wailed in the playpen; she vanished after serving her time, but Shirley Morrison asks Jackson to find, not her sister Michelle, but the niece she promised to raise, then was forced to hand over to grandparents. The detective, whose bitter ex-wife uses Jackson's profound love for their eight-year-old daughter to torture him, finds all these stories of dead and/or missing girls extremely unsettling; we learn toward the end why the subject of young women in peril is particularly painful for him. Atkinson has always been a gripping storyteller, and her complicated narrative crackles with the earthy humor, vibrant characterizations, and shrewd social observations that enlivened her first novel but were largely swamped by postmodern game-playing in Human Croquet (1997) and Emotionally Weird (2000). Here, she crafts a compulsive page-turner that looks deep into the heart of sadness, cruelty, and loss, yet ultimately grants her charming p.i. (and most of the other appealingly offbeat characters, including one killer) a chance at happiness and some measure of reconciliation with the past. Wonderful fun and very moving: it's a pleasure to see this talented writer back on form. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.