Jackson Brodie

Created by Kate Atkinson

Hailing originally from Yorkshire, Cambridge (and later Edinburgh) moody, broody private investigator JACKSON BRODIE is many things: an ex-cop, an ex-soldier, an ex-husband, a weekend dad and a man who knows what it’s like be dragged through the emotional wringer of life. Which is why this series by Whitbread Award winner Atkinson is so satisfying.

Unapologetically literate and literary, Atkinson (and her detective) never let the reader forget that there are real lives involved here, and real hurt, but she treats them all with warmth, humour and intelligence, as well as compassion and respect that, in the post-9/11 years, wasn’t something to ignore easily.

And Jackson himself is quite a piece of work, himself. A would-be tough guy, he nonetheless wears his big honking empathetic heart of his sleeve, and proves to be all too human at times, fumbling and bumbling his way through life in a melancholic haze. Paula Hawkins, the author of The Girl on the Train, tagged him as “marvelously melancholy” and that about nails it. Which — in a world of invulnerable superdicks might be just what was needed.

It’s either endearing or irritating, depending on how competent or human you want your detective to be. But he does seem to attract any number of broken and damaged clients (and readers), particularly women, to him.

2019 saw the return, after eight years, of Jackson and his aging Labrador, as they endeavour to start a new life in a peaceful seaside town, but fortunately for readers, misery seems to follow them.

The first three novels were adapted by the BBC and aired in 2011 as Case Histories, with Jason Isaacs slipping completely into the role of Brodie, although for some reason, the Cambridge setting of the books was changed to Edinburgh. The show also ran on PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery! about the same time.


  • “Not just the best novel I have read this year…but the best mystery of the decade. There are actually four mysteries, nesting like Russian dolls, and when they begin to fit together, I defy any reader not to feel a combination of delight and amazement. Case Histories is the literary equivalent of a triple axel. I read it once for pleasure and then again just to see how it was done. This is the kind of book you shove in people’s faces, saying ‘You gotta read this!'”
    — Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly
  • “What Atkinson does (in Case Histories) is take the trappings of the PI novel structure to answer deeper questions, and succeeds incredibly well at doing so. The characters are not always likeable or appealing, but they are fully-rounded and very human. In short, Case Histories takes that very idea and reveals what really lies underneath… it could be said to transcend genre. But that’s not what it does, because it’s simply an excellent book.”
    — Sarah Weinman, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind
  • “…(a)  perfect blend of traditional setting and modern sensibilities.”
    — Crimereads
  • “Brodie hews close to Chandler’s ideal hero: he ventures into mean streets, abides by his own moral code, and can’t let go of a mystery once he’s on the case. However, Atkinson plays with the assumption of the private eye’s centrality and moral authority. Brodie may solve the mystery at the heart of the book (or he may not), but he himself isn’t at the heart. Other characters—especially those living in the aftermath of violent crimes—dominate the narrative. It matters little whether Jackson Brodie’s moral compass is satisfied at the end.”
    — Kelsey Rae Dimberg in “Noir Tropes” (June 2019, CrimeReads)



    (2011-13, BBC)
    Based on characters created by Kate Atkinson
    Devloped for television by Ashley Pharoah
    Writers: Ashley Pharoah, Peter Harness
    Directors: Marc Jobst, Bill Anderson. Dan Zeff
    Produced by Ruby Film and Television in association with Monastic Productions for BBC
    Executive producers: Rebecca Eaton, executive producer for WGBH Boston.
    Filmed in Edinburgh
    Starring Jason Isaacs as JACKSON BRODIE
    With Amanda Abbingtonas DC Louise Munroe
    Zawe Ashton as Deborah Arnold
    and Millie Innes as Marlee Brodie
    Also starring Natasha Little, Fenella Woolgar, Kirsty Mitchell , Sylvia Syms, Phil Davis

    • Series One | Buy the DVD
    • “Case Histories (Part 1)” (June 5, 2011)
    • “Case Histories (Part 2)” (June 6, 2011)
    • “One Good Turn (Part 1)” (June 12, 2011)
    • “One Good Turn (Part 2)” (June 13, 2011)
    • “When Will There Be Good News? (Part 1)” (June 19, 2011)
    • “When Will There Be Good News? (Part 2)” (June 20, 2011)
    • Series Two | Buy the DVD
    • “Started Early, Took My Dog” (May 19, 2013)
    • “Nobody’s Darling” (May 26, 2013)
    • “Jackson and the Women” (June 2, 2013)


Report submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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