Saturday, January 24, 2009

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

"Summer. To Jackson Brodie, former 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. His days are full of people clamouring for answers and explanations. A jealous husband suspects his wife. Two spinster sisters make a shocking find. A solicitor investigates an old murder. A nurse has lost her niece; a widow, her cats. Jackson has never felt at home in Cambridge, and has a failed marriage to prove it. He is forty-five but feels much, much older. He is at that dangerous age when men suddenly notice that they're going to die eventually, inevitably, and there isn't a damn thing they can do about it. Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, his own life is brought sharply into focus."

I really was not very taken with this book. The only reason I continued to read it was I had been told it gets better half way through, and to be fair it did get more tolerable towards the end.

Firstly I did not like the style that it was written in. Kate Atkinson seemed to want to use the biggest words available which is fine every now and then but not in nearly every paragraph in the first chapter. Also the language was old fashioned as well, which at first I though was maybe in keeping with the setting of the first chapter but I later realised this was how Kate Atkinson wrote (though it did loosen up towards the end) I almost put the book straight down after the first chapter.

I couldn't really like any of the characters except for Jackson and he was not in it as much as the blurb would imply. The only other interesting characters were barely in the book much to my disappointment. To be honest I disliked most of the main characters except perhaps Theo who was just a sad soul. Julia and Amelia only became interesting towards the end of the book.

The story jumped around a lot and was told from many different points of view which grew annoying especially when I did not see the relevance (or care perhaps?). In some cases the same story was told from two different points of view which did not offer anything new or insightful. There was a lot of unnecessary story thread woven in. Well for me they were unnecessary, I just did not see the relevance to the story being told. I found myself skipping quite a few paragraphs and not missing much.

I mostly kept reading to find out what the answers to the cases were, and I must confess to actually being surprised by the turn one of the cases took. Perhaps I am being harsh as I had just read the excellent Time Travelers Wife, but this book really failed to grab me at all. If it wasn't for the more interesting last chapters and the twist I probably would have scored this lower.

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