Case Histories starts off with 3 case histories from 1970, 1979 and 1994. Two of the cases are cold cases and all of them still has impact on the lives of the people left behind. There is also a fourth case that we learn about later in the book.
10 years after the last case happened, during a warm summer in Cambridge, private detective Jackson Brodie gets involved in all the three cases. There are some surprises waiting for him. As usual, if you want more spoilers you can go to some of the reviews I’ve linked to at the bottom of this post.
This is not a simple crime novel. It has so many layers. There are unsuspected connections between the three cases, it doesn’t tell you outright all the answers you might want to know and it has some really interesting characters. Starting the book with the three case histories and their different tragedies, works very well. You come away from the start of the book desperately curious about what really happened, sure that there’s a lot you don’t know.
As mentioned above I think that the novel has some really interesting characters. Jackson is newly, unhappily divorced, dreaming of retiring in France and an overprotective father of his young daughter. The sisters of one of the victims are very different from each other and constantly squabbling, the sister in law of another victim has a dodgy relationship with the truth (spoiler, sorry…) and the father of the third victim is still obsessed with what happened to his daughter. And then there are the neighbours…
Apart from the case histories there are four different voices telling the story: Jackson, Amelia (one of the squabbling sisters), Theo (the father of one victim) and Caroline (a woman who a first doesn’t seem to have any connection to any the cases). I like this way of telling the story, it lets us see many of the characters from different perspectives and gives us a broader overall picture than one character could.
It shouldn’t really be possible, but this is also at times a quite funny book.
I was really caught up in it and as a result of this I’ve already started reading another book by Kate Atkinson.
Some other people’s opinions: