Case Histories

Case Histories - Kate Atkinson I think Kate Atkinson's "Case Histories" has been the first novel I've read in a while where I felt emotionally drained from finishing it, and I don't necessarily mean that in the best way. To her credit, she's crafted quite the alternative from the standard mystery themed novel. Instead of mechanizing a series of three (truly four, but one doesn't come until much later in the story) cold cases that revolve around a series of families, the author chooses to intimately delve into these events via the character perspectives when the incidents occur, and in the aftermath many years later when one investigator, Jackson Brodie, finds himself in the middle of the cases. Atkinson structures the novel in third person limited for specific characters (Jackson, Caroline, Amelia, and Theo) to create the personal experiences of each of the characters when dealing with the aftermaths of crime and events in their day-to-day living. Atkinson does have a witty style of writing in spurts, so there's also a plus to it (if you can stomach some very awkward moments - there were a few attempts at humor that didn't really sit that well with me, but I could see where she went with it and why).I think it would have been a great novel, but sadly - I think "Case Histories" could have been aptly titled "Character Histories" because there's almost too much going on, and the old saying "less is more" could have been applied to make it less overkill and more realistic with proper punches. Not that it doesn't set the framework of the characters very well - the characters are clearly defined, and the reader can get into their shoes very easily - emotionally and in a given moment. There are some very realistic and emotional reactions here (the loss of Theo's daughter and his coping reactions in the aftermath). There are also some interesting turns in the story/revelations that are progressively introduced that make the cases seem that much more intriguing. Mind you, it takes its time getting there, but it does get there. Question is if you're patent enough to ride it for the whole way. I consider myself very patient, so I rolled with the punches in this book. It was hard to get into, because Atkinson employs a style of prose that can run a bit much in the voice she uses, but I didn't really have a problem with it once I adjusted to it in the larger frame of the story.However, it's difficult to believe ALL of these characters could have so many overarching flaws/complications/revelations about themselves, and in such a short span of time in points to where it feels very rushed and perhaps incomplete (Jackson's handling toward the end of the book made me incensed, and he was the character that carried me through the novel for the most part). I wouldn't expect the reader to come into this novel wanting to "connect" with the characters (meaning unconditionally), because by the end of the book, you may hate all of them with the things they say/do, and knowing the flaws they have in given situations. There's a brutal honesty in this that is sometimes genuine and even brilliantly displayed, while others it comes across for just utter drama - and there's not a sense of in between. Hence when I say that the experience ultimately drained me by the time I finished the book.Would I read this again? I did take some elements from and liked parts of the book, but I would not preferentially read it again, despite its cohesion. I will say that there were some brilliant moments in this book that could essentially work in a mystery novel that wants to achieve a more personal approach to the classic mystery novel.Overall rating: 2/5