Thursday, March 1, 2012

Roaming the Shore and 'Case Histories.'

  Here are some interesting things I saw while roaming the shore. I heard that strange things are washing ashore from Japan. I was at a beach on the Sound rather than the actual ocean, so it is less likely intriguing and mysterious relics were to wash up, but I still had my eye out. Some day I want to find a message in a bottle!












   I recently watched the TV show 'Case Histories' which is based on a book I love of the same name by Kate Atkinson. The story follows the adventures of professional mystery solver Jackson Brodie. He is an ex-police officer and current private investigator sleuthing about in Great Britain. Currently, four Jackson Brodie mysteries have been published and the TV series is based on the first three. I was very excited to discover a TV show version of 'Case Histories' existed, although watching movies or shows based upon a favorite book can always be risky. There is always the chance that the live action portrayal of the beloved book does a horrible job representing the written work. From what I read before embarking on the show, many fans of the books did not at all like the show. But negative reviews could not deter me! Good thing too, because I found the series quite enjoyable. Some of the criticism of the show had to do with casting, specifically of Brodie. I don't agree. I like the way the actor portrayed Brodie. He is the same actor who played Lucius Malfoy in the 'Harry Potter' movies. I did not even recognize him without his wispy long blonde hair. The plot of the TV show followed the plot of the books fairly loyally with small changes here and there. My biggest critique of the show is of the tone. The tone of the show was very somber. One of my favorite aspects of the books is the sense of humor running through the story. The books aren't laugh out loud, clutching your stomach and gasping for breath funny. They aren't even lighthearted reads. But there is a sense of wit and playfulness that elevates the books. The story has a lot of heavy subject matters- murder and family secrets and whatnot, but Atkinson is able to lighten the books without trivializing the story or the characters. It was obvious that the creators of he show didn't even try to imitate the subtle humor of the books. The dreary atmosphere and tense characters reminded me of another British TV mystery show based on a book- 'Wallander.' I haven't read the 'Wallander' books, so I don't know how accurately the show portrays the books. The show is very dark and the characters, especially Wallander, seem the brooding, 'tortured soul' type. The TV characters of 'Case Histories' are not quite as down trodden and depressed as poor Wallander, but there is a definite lack of merriment expressed by the characters. Kate Atkinson's portrayal of her characters is another aspect I love about the books. She creates characters with depth and nuance. While reading, I feel like I'm reading about real people who I know personally. Books with relatable, interesting and believable characters along with an intriguing plot is what makes great fiction in my mind.
Mystery novels are often disparaged as being lowly 'genre fiction' without the substance to transcend into the category of respectable literature. Although I love mystery novels in all there varied forms, I think the Jackson Brodie mysteries could easily go head to head with some of the more respected pieces of literature of our day.

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