Friday, June 02, 2006

My favorite novel of 2004

My favorite novel of 2004 was Kate Atkinson's Case Histories.

The publisher's summary does not do justice to the book but click here to read it if you must.

Click here to read an excerpt.

Jacqueline Carey wrote a good review of Case Histories for the New York Times:
Three case histories open the book: each presents a crime that suggests an escalating degree of female culpability. In the first, a 3-year-old disappears one summer night as she sleeps in a tent next to one of her older sisters. (Complete innocence.) In the next, a teenager is stabbed as she helps out in her widowed father's law office. (She's not a virgin, so possibly she brought it on herself? Was there a connection between her and her unknown assailant?) In the final crime, a husband is felled by an ax during an argument with his wife. (Complete guilt; inexplicable silence from the accused.) Of course, nothing is as it seems.
Case Histories was favorably reviewed in a number of major publications. In addition to Carey's, another review very much in tune with my assessment is Timothy Peters' at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Atkinson's first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year award and earned her many fans. I think Case Histories is far superior to that first novel: if you read Behind the Scenes and were not overwhelmed (as was the case with me), do yourself a favor and give Case Histories a try.

--Marshal Zeringue