Posted on May 3, 2008 in Fiction

by Kate Atkinson
Back Bay Books, 2004

I like mysteries.  Not criminal novels per se – I don’t like egregious sex or violence – but I love intricate puzzles that need unraveling. And I also require good writing.  Which is why over the years I’ve liked Dorothy Sayers, P.D. James, and once in a while (but not always) Martha Grimes. I now add to this list, permanently, Kate Atkinson.

I reviewed a more recent book, One Good Turn, and as I indicated there, Atkinson is a British author whose first novel, a decade ago, promptly won the Whitbread First Novel Award.  (And I also said there, not to despair if you are a writer at this instant success.  She assured Diane Rehm in an interview that there had been much previous spadework in the form of years and years of short stories for magazines.)

Atkinson employs the same MO in Case Histories, as she did in One Good Turn.  Apparently disparate stories  – police case histories in this case –eventually are revealed to be curiously intertwined, providing, in the end, quite satisfying answers to most, if not all, the unsolved questions.

Though I wish I’d read this one first as it is a bit of a prequel to One Good Turn.  The main detective – Jackson – reappears in One Good Turn, as does a particular female detective he admits he should have pursued more seriously.

I’ve decided to work my way back through Atkinson’s other books.  Next on my list – Behind the Scenes at the Museum.