Punts in Cambridge
Photo by Jan-Willem Swane used under a Creative Commons license.

Kate Atkinson, Case Histories (Little, Brown, 2004).
Jackson Brodie is a private investigator in Cambridge, a divorced father of one, a veteran and an ex-cop, and not a glamorous fellow.  The novel — a sort of a hybrid of the crime genre and a more literary endeavour — follows Brodie through the wending courses of several different engagements — a lost child, an allegedly unfaithful spouse, a missing sister.  The lure here is Atkinson’s storytelling, and particularly her ability to draw a variety of compelling characters.  
Some coincidences knit the plot together, but they are readily overlooked.

Google Book Search lets you preview it. Carrie O’Grady (The Guardian) says Atkinson is very good indeed. Katie Owen (The Telegraph) likes Atkinson’s wicked sense of humour and her delight in eccentricity.  Roberta Silman (The Boston Globe) calls it an interesting hybrid of a novel.  Timothy Peters (San Francisco Chronicle) says it transcends the limitations of the genre.  Jacqueline Carey (The New York Times) calls it exuberant and empathetic. Misha Berson (Seattle Times) says it has real gravitas. Sharon Dilworth (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) calls it a brilliant if circuitously plotted novel.  Michael Allen found it hard going.  The Complete Review says it’s very well-written and consistently entertaining.  Boris Kachka (New York) says in the end this is a clever detective novel, no less but no more. Jeff Turrentine (The Washington Post) calls it a rousing triumph if you ignore mystery conventions.  Sam calls it darkly comic and well characterised. Dest reeled from one of the most powerful stories he or she read in a while. Michelle loved the bits of humour and irony. Rosario thinks the best thing about it was the small, understated connections. MsTweet didn’t see the connections. Jessica became a hopeless fan with the fourth chapter. Luanne liked the deliciously intricate, detailed plot. Margaret calls Atkinson a master at creating separate stories, then slowly intertwining them. Natasha Tripney thinks some of the resolutions are a little too neat. Bookdwarf says you can’t put it down. Jenny hugely enjoyed it. Paul thinks it’s pretty good. Devourer of Books did eventually enjoy it. It didn’t work for showhost. Atkinson’s writing drove raych round the bend. Denise Pickles calls it a thumping good tale. Sam Smith calls it nearly perfect. Jo wants to know more about Jackson Brodie. The Litblog Co-op picked it for its 2005 Read This! — read this and subsequent posts. Helen Brown interviewed Atkinson for The Telegraph upon the release of Case Histories.  Georgie Lewis interviewed Atkinson for Powells.com following the publication of a subsequent book.  You can listen to a discussion about it on The Diane Rehm Show on WAMU.

Buy it at Amazon.com.