Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson, Book Review

Started Early, Took My Dog is the fourth title by Kate Atkinson to feature semi-retired PI Jackson Brodie.

Started Early, Took My Dog Synopsis

Started Early Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson, Review

Jackson Brodie Mystery #4

Tracy Waterhouse leads a quiet, ordered life as a retired police detective — a life that takes a surprising turn when she encounters Kelly Cross, a habitual offender, dragging a young child through town. Both appear miserable and better off without each other — or so decides Tracy, in a snap decision that surprises herself as much as Kelly. Suddenly burdened with a small child, Tracy soon learns her parental inexperience is actually the least of her problems, as much larger ones loom for her and her young charge. 

Meanwhile, Jackson Brodie, the beloved detective of novels such as Case Histories, is embarking on a different sort of rescue: that of an abused dog. Dog in tow, Jackson is about to learn, along with Tracy, that no good deed goes unpunished.

Genre: Drama, Literature, Mystery, Crime-Detective

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Book Review

Readers must surrender themselves to the author when embarking on this very literary journey in the mind of Atkinson’s multi-faceted characters — philosophical traveller Jackson Brodie, battle-worn Tracy Waterhouse searching for something more in life and elderly actress Tilly searching for memories of a life gone by.

In Started Early, Took My Dog Kate Atkinson has plumbed literary depths uncommon in the mystery and crime-detective genre.

This is not a fast-moving story. It meanders into philosophical jaunts and switches back and forth between the current day and times gone by. Atkinson’s subtle character development is a real treat.

‘Jackon supposed that other people’s small brain-dwelling inhabitants ran their operations rather like air-traffic controllers, always aware of the location of everything they were responsible for, never sloping off for tea breaks or loitering in the shadowy recesses of rarely accessed shelves, where they smoked fly cigarettes and kvetched about their poor working conditions. One day they would simply lay down tools and walk off, of course.’

Aging, desperation, loneliness and the relativity of morality in today’s society are key themes of Started Early, Took My Dog.

‘Jackson found photographs unsettling enough at the best of times. There was a lie at the heart of the camera, it implied the past was tangible when the very opposite was true.’

Atkinson brings levity and wit into what is at times a very sombre introspective tale through the charming relationship between Brodie and his rescued dog.

I really enjoyed Atkinson’s Started Early, Took My Dog. It oozes intelligence and complexity and has a moral conscience. Atkinson presents unique and sometimes cryptic slants on common themes and interesting trains of thought that I found intriguing. Its plot however is not fast-moving and may not hold everyone’s interest over its 496 pages. Literary prose trumps the mystery.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5 – Overall 4.25

Get your copy of Started Early, Took My Dog from:

Amazon | Book Depository | Bookshop US | Booktopia AU

More Started Early, Took My Dog reviews

‘An elegaic tone creeps in to Atkinson’s latest but the author’s control of her fictional universe is total’ – The Guardian

‘Crime has given Atkinson the freedom to write an ambitious, panoramic work, full of excitement, colour and compassion’ – Sunday Times

‘… passages that simply have to be read twice, once when you first travel through the book and then later, when you want to see just how she tricked you. ‘ – NY Times

‘The sleuthing is less important than Atkinson’s fascinating take on the philosophic and emotional dimensions of her characters’ lives.’ – Kirkus Reviews

About the Author, Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. She won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Her four bestselling novels featuring former detective Jackson Brodie became the BBC television series Case Histories, starring Jason Isaacs. Her last novel, Life After Life, was the winner of the Costa Novel Award and the South Bank Sky Arts Literature Prize, and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize. It was also voted Book of the Year for the independent booksellers associations on both sides of the Atlantic. Her novel, A God in Ruins, is a companion to Life After Life, although the two novels can be read independently. Her more recent novel releases include Transcription, Big Sky (Jackson Brodie #5) and Shrines of Gaiety. Check out her website.