Saturday, April 30, 2011
Meet Jackson Brodie, my latest addiction.
Why it works so well? Atkinson brings a different touch to the ubiquitous crime fiction genre. Brilliant, crystal clear writing helps, but she also engenders her characters with such humanity, all of them. Unlike alot of crime fiction, these characters are skillfully drawn and aroused real empathy from this reader. The focus is not on the nature of the crime, but the impact of the crime on those left behind.
The plot is also more satisfying than many crime novels I have read recently. Atkinson links three apparently unrelated "case histories" through the personal story of the detective. This works and left me with a sense of a beautiful whole by the end of the book. It is the structure of the narrative that works so well. In different ways Jackson becomes personally involved with his clients. There are few clear lines between detective and victim here, the two spill into each other, and this overlapping of stories is for me what sets the novel apart, the themes emerge alot stronger.
Jackson is very engaging. On the surface he shares many of the features of alot of his fictitious detective contemporaries: approaching middle age, a loner, broken marriage recently behind him, trying to find time to be a good father, favours a particular car, and has an easy way with the ladies. We get to know Jackson through his reactions to those around him. He is empathic, and accepting of human frailty, we learn later in the novel of the tragic circumstances in his own life that no doubt have contributed to this.
For me, Case Histories is a definite winner, and has left me wanting to read the other three Jackson Brodie novels without delay.