Taking my morning walk with the dogs, I started thinking about the ways that Atkinson deftly shows us the state of Jackson Brodie’s heart:

Four years ago Josie was driving her own Polo and was still married to Jackson, now she was living with a bearded English lecturer and driving his Volvo V70 with a CHILD ON BOARD sign in the rear window, testifying both to the permanence of their relationship and to the smug git’s need to show the world that he was protecting another man’s child. Jackson hated those signs.


When he moved out of the house he had shared with his wife and daughter, Jackson went round to every room in the house to check that nothing had been left behind, apart from their lives, of course. When he walked into the bathroom he realized he could still smell Josie’s perfume—L’Air du Temps—a scent she had worn long before he had ever met her. Now she wore the Joy by Patou that David Lastingham bought her, a scent so old-fashioned that it made her seem like a different woman, which she was, of course. . . .When he moved into the rented house he bought a bottle of L’Air du Temps and sprayed the tiny bathroom with it, but it wasn’t the same.

As we rounded the corner, a gangly chestnut hound bounded across the road at us and my Case Histories reverie evaporated. Barking something between a greeting and a warning, the red pup started loping after us. I pulled my own (always-skittish) dogs in a tighter grip to avoid a confrontation, but he kept up the pursuit. His owner leaned out the door and shouted “Jackson, get back here,” and I watched him retreat—to be sure he’d make it back across the road in front of an approaching horse-carrier.

It took me a few minutes to realize that his name was Jackson.

And a few more to remember the bit in Case Histories in which the Land sisters try to determine what kind of a dog Brodie is. Turns out he’s a German shepherd: “You can just tell he would drag you out of a burning building or a river in flood. He would save you!”

So, not a chestnut hound.