Masterpiece Mystery! “Case Histories”

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An ex-cop from Yorkshire jogs across the hills overlooking Edinburgh, listening to mournful American country singers and mulling over his tangled life. It’s private investigator Jackson Brodie, played by Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter) in a trio of exciting mysteries based on Kate Atkinson’s bestselling novels. Case Histories air on Sundays in October, 2011 at 9 p.m. on Eight.

Viewers in the UK especially savored the hero’s personal playlist, which includes such American folk and country stars as Lucinda Williams, Iris DeMent, Nanci Griffith, and Eliza Gilkyson.

While Jackson’s cheerful young daughter in the series (Millie Innes) finds her dad’s musical taste “depressing,” it’s the perfect soundtrack for his weary, lovelorn life. Also appearing as recurring characters are Amanda Abbington (Married Single Other) as Detective Inspector Louise Munroe, Jackson’s sometime soulmate and former colleague on the Edinburgh police; Zawe Ashton (Sherlock) as his cheeky receptionist, Deborah; and Kirsty Mitchell as the gumshoe’s ex, Jodie. Guest stars include Natasha Little (Any Human Heart), Philip Davis (Sherlock), Sylvia Syms (The Queen), and Adam Godley (The Old Curiosity Shop).

Atkinson’s first novel in the Jackson Brodie series, Case Histories, was hailed by Stephen King as “the best mystery of the decade” after its publication in 2004. She followed it with One Good Turn and When Will There Be Good News?—each adapted in a two-hour episode on this Masterpiece Mystery! series. The author’s signature style is to entangle her hero in a web of cases—some involving Jackson’s work as a sleuth for hire and others dealing with crimes he chances across in his gritty encounters with Edinburgh’s seamier side. As the clues in this jumble of investigations mount, it becomes clear that the pieces miraculously all fit together.

October 16 – While searching for a lost cat, Jackson takes on the cold case of a girl who went missing thirty years earlier. He is also talked into helping a grieving father find the man who murdered his daughter, and tracking down the niece of a mysterious seductress.

October 23 – The only witness to a drowning in the Firth of Forth, Jackson is on a desperate search for the victim’s identity when he meets a crime novelist caught in a road rage incident. So begins a strange journey that also involves the wife and dominatrix of a comatose crook.

October 30 – Jackson is injured in a train wreck and acquires a teenage sidekick who saves his life and insists that he return the favor by finding her missing employer. Also, while barely conscious in the hospital Jackson makes a startling declaration to his former police colleague DI Louise Munroe.

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