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Case Histories
Cover of Case Histories
Case Histories
Jackson Brodie Series, Book 1
Cambridge is sweltering, during an unusually hot summer. To Jackson Brodie, formar police inspector turned private investigator, the world consists of one accounting sheet - Lost on the left, Found on the right - and the two never seem to balance.
Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, his own life haunted by a family tragendy, Jackson attempts to unravel three disparate case histories and begins to realize that in spite of apparent diversity, everything is connected...
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Cambridge is sweltering, during an unusually hot summer. To Jackson Brodie, formar police inspector turned private investigator, the world consists of one accounting sheet - Lost on the left, Found on the right - and the two never seem to balance.
Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, his own life haunted by a family tragendy, Jackson attempts to unravel three disparate case histories and begins to realize that in spite of apparent diversity, everything is connected...
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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  • Chapter One 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 leader ship, 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 par ticular, 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....
About the Author-
  • KATE ATKINSON won the Whitbread Book of the Year for her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and has been an internationally bestselling author since. Her most recent novels, Case Histories, One Good Turn, and When Will There Be Good News?, and the forthcoming Started Early, Took My Dog all feature the former private detective Jackson Brodie.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 25, 2004
    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.

  • Stephen King

    "Not just the best book I've read this year, but the best mystery of the decade."

  • The Globe and Mail "A wonderful novel told by a great storyteller who knows just how to create a voice, an image, a metaphor. . . . This witty and literate tale deserves to be read and re-read."
  • Sunday Telegraph (UK) "Triumphant . . . Her best book yet . . . A tragi-comedy for our times."
  • The Guardian "An astonishingly complex and moving literary detective story."
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    Doubleday Canada
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Case Histories
Case Histories
Jackson Brodie Series, Book 1
Kate Atkinson
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