I’m a little late to the party, I know, but I’ve been circling Case Histories for some time now. I enjoyed Kate Atkinson’s quirky, family-history novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum and admired her tenderly peculiar short-story collection Not the End of the World. And I relish a certain thoughtful, not too violent, type of detective story (from Inspector Alleyn to Detective Wallender to Maisie Dobbs). For some reason, I’d gotten the impression that Case Histories was quite violent, so I stayed away.

But the BBC series was just picked up by Masterpiece Mystery–so I’ll inevitably be exposed. I wanted the pleasure of reading the books before watching them. (No TV show mystery is ever quite as good as the book it was based on.) And I’d already picked up the second book in the series (One Good Turn) at Westport’s Quaker book sale this summer.

So I dashed into Barnes & Noble after work, then dive-bombed into Case Histories. I re-acquainted myself with Atkinson’s unique narrative style:

Their appetites were listless at teatime and they picked at the unseasonable lamb hot pot that Rosemary had spent too much time making.Victor emerged, blinking in the daylight like a cave dweller, and ate everything in front of him and then asked for more, and Rosemary wondered what he would look like when he was dead. She watched him eating, the fork traveling up and down to his lips with robotic rhythm, his huge hands, like paddles, wrapped around the cutlery. He had farmer’s hands, it was one of the things she had first noticed about him. A mathematician should have slender, elegant hands. She should have known from his hands. She felt sick and crampy. Maybe she would lose the baby. What a relief that would be.

And I just met Jackson Brodie…