June 2016

Atkinson, Kate. Case Histories >>
Conan Doyle, Arthur Sir, A Study In Scarlet >>

Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson, got a strong majority of “thumbs up” votes from the group-10 up, 2 down! Masterful writing, with the ability to tie together disparate stories, was recognized by the group. The plot was thought to be clever and although the Brodie character was not liked by many, the writing was so exceptional Atkinson was forgiven a somewhat stock character like Jackson. One member stated that endings are often disappointing, but that each one of these vignettes “broke my heart individually.”

The few who gave a thumbs down, although less in number, were just as strong in passion about their view. They found Jackson to be an unsympathetic character, given to whining. He came across as bland, not fully formed and somewhat “rote”. Too many characters, too many stories was another criticism. Begrudging giving Atkinson credit for cleverness (technically well written), the stories got tedious and obsessive. There was also a comment that every person who committed a crime “got away with it.”

Case Histories provoked a passionate discussion whether it was liked or not!

The majority of the group liked The Study in Scarlett by Arthur C. Doyle (11 up, 1 down). However, all were thrown by the middle of the story. The Mormon component was bizarre, the long descriptions of the desert boring. However, most readers found the story clever with excellent character development. One person observed that in this early representation, Sherlock had a sense of humor about himself and wasn’t as arrogant as later depictions. A nod was given to the important place in the history of the mystery novel. The one thumbs down opinion was based on a strong negative reaction to the middle section, and a knowledge of the rest of the series on which the characters were better developed.


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