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Case Histories is the first in the Jackson Brodie detective series written by author Kate Atkinson, and I only recently discovered it. Lucky me, Big Sky, the fifth book in the series was released in June. If you’re looking for a series to fall in love with, this may be your ticket.

Jackson Brodie is a former policeman turned private detective who is mostly called upon to find lost things: cats, sisters, nieces, and killers. In Case Histories, he is hired by three separate families to solve cold cases.

  • Amelia and Julia are looking for their sister Olivia, who disappeared in 1970 at the age of three on a hot summer night while sleeping out in a tent in the backyard.
  • Theo’s daughter Laura was brutally attacked and murdered in the board room of his law firm in 1994 and he wants to find the murderer.
  • Shirley’s sister Michelle, was an infamous ax murderess. Shirley had promised to take care of Michelle’s infant child, but was too young to gain custody and she’d lost track of her after she’d been adopted.

At the beginning, it seems his client’s faith in his ability is misguided. He is preoccupied by his recent divorce and concerned that his ex-wife and her new boyfriend are turning his eight-year-old daughter Marlee in to a tramp. He isn’t even capable of finding a lost cat for godssakes, much less tracking a 35-year missing persons case, a 10-year murder case gone cold, or an infant who would now be an adult. And to make matters worse, it seems someone is out to kill him.

In Atkinson’s hands, we need not worry. Her plot is complex, though masterfully woven. Her characters are peculiar yet provocative. And her protagonist, Jackson Brodie, is a broken man with a debt to pay, or so he thinks, which makes for some interesting choices.

I recommend Case Histories for fans of P.D. James, Lee Child, and Matt Goldman.

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