49. CASE HISTORIES, BY KATE ATKINSON (Book 1 of Jackson Brodie)
Recommended by Laura, on Goodreads. I’m quite a fan of classical mystery and detective stories, but I try not to read too many of them at once so I won’t find them too repetitive.
Synopsis: A middle-aged former policemen current private detective is hired to investigate the disappearance of a girl some 20 years ago. During this investigation, he gets involved with other histories of other crimes.
Overall enjoyment: It was pretty good. The ending was not as good as the beginning, but still a nice read.
Plot: It was interesting enough, but maybe it could have been better, especially in the end. One of the “case histories” that give the book its name is not very well concluded or connected to the story. She does give the reader the answer, but there’s no closure, very little character development (exclusively in this mini story arc), no satisfying of needs… It just hangs like a big loose thread. Plus, for a detective, Brodie does very little detecting: things spontaneously happen around him, and the clues fall in his lap with no big effort in his part. Since the book tells the story of cold cases, this is at least a medium-serius issue.
Characters: Solid and well constructed. Very nice elements in regards to feminism and the development of female psyche.
World/setting: It doesn’t have a big influence in the story, except, perhaps, the house where his clients lived when they were children.
Writing style: It flows nicely and is pleasant to read. She could do a bit more suspense, though, instead of having things happen very conveniently.
Representation: There is the standard black guy and a bisexual woman. Could be better, but it’s better than most.
Political correctness: Her female characters are very real, especially in the way they think and react. There are examples of this throughout the text, but the most memorable is one of Brodie’s clients, feeling disgusted with herself, thinking that she was never pretty and when she was a child she wasn’t even attractive enough to be raped by her father. It sounds absurd when you talk about it, but that is the extreme to which the obsession with female beauty and compliance with standards takes us. Also, her men are, mostly, guys whose hearts are in the right place but just don’t get it. They react to the threats that women face with attempts to hide and protect them. As infuriating as it may be, I’m sure we all know plenty of men like that…
Up next: The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold