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Started Early, Took My Dog: A Novel (Jackson Brodie Book 4) [Kindle Edition]

Kate Atkinson
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (320 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Books In This Series (4 Books)
Complete Series

  • Editorial Reviews Review

    Kate Atkinson's Started Early Playlist

    I always make a compilation tape for Jackson for each book. I find it’s rather like a meditation, something I come back to on a regular basis when I’m writing because in some mysterious way it reminds me of the essence of each particular book. He, and I, like country music but that’s quite a broad church. Sometimes it’s apparent to me why I’ve chosen certain tracks and at other times I’m not at all sure of the reason. There are a lot of songs about dead mothers and orphaned children for Case Histories and When Will There Be Good News, and more than a few about death and heaven in Started Early. (Jackson’s taste is strictly on the melancholic side.) At the moment I’m writing a book that begins in 1910 and goes through the Second World War so just now I’m listening to music from the Twenties and Thirties, rather odd and not entirely to my taste. I’m looking forward to Glenn Miller and the Andrew Sisters--not Jackson’s taste at all! --Kate Atkinson

    Listen to the playlist

    Author One-on-One: Kate Atkinson and Lee Child

    In this Amazon exclusive, we brought together authors Kate Atkinson and Lee Child and asked them to interview each other.

    Kate Atkinson

    Lee Child: This is the fourth Jackson Brodie book. It's starting to look suspiciously like a series! What brought you back this time?

    Kate Atkinson: I never intended to write more than the first one -- which was Case Histories -- but I wrote it so quickly -- which was highly unusual for me -- that I somehow felt as if I hadn't finished with the form and the characters. And then it became the 'power of three' and I thought "one more" and then I found I had unfinished business for Jackson and it became four. I honestly don't know how that happened. There is something seductive about the shape of a detective novel, or at any rate of using a detective in a novel, because it gives you a ready-- made dynamic and a reason for introducing characters to whom interesting things happen as opposed to, say, starting with a whole load of people in a bank or an office and thinking so what are their stories, and what's going to happen to them? (Although, even as I'm writing that, I'm thinking oh, actually that sounds quite intriguing).

    Child: Your career so far shows you're not afraid to write whatever you choose. It's as if you've been in and out of several different rooms in the house. Is that fun?

    Atkinson: Yes! I get bored quite easily but also there are so many ways of writing out there to explore. To run with the house analogy -- I love houses and there are so many lovely ones that I'll never have a chance to live in because life is short and so is money. It's the same with different styles and genres of writing. I hope before I die I manage to write a romantic novel (because I never write any kind of romance) and I would love to be able to write a children's book, but I think they are the most challenging of all.

    Child: Is it easier to write the Brodie books than the others? Or harder?

    Atkinson: I found the Brodie books easy to begin with, and then very difficult to finish. I haven't actually finished with him yet but at the moment he's taking a holiday somewhere restful. I found the new book really hard but I think I'd just run out of steam with the character. I'm writing something completely different at the moment and it's amazing how much energy I have for it and what a relief it feels! I think the next time I re-visit Jackson it will be with that same kind of enthusiasm -- and he (and I) will be all the better for having taken a break from each other!

    Lee Child

    Child: You write about Yorkshire with a certain exasperated affection. You were born there, right?

    Atkinson: I am actually a patron of the Yorkshire Tourist Board! I think it's true of everyone in exile -- I live in Edinburgh -- no matter how mild the form, that you have a longing for what you have left behind.

    I think the older you get the stronger that is -- not so much nostalgia, but a feeling that your heart is in another place. I may be kidding myself there and, like Jackson, there are certain parts of Yorkshire that I would never want to re-visit, but like him I think there are places in North Yorkshire that do mark it out as God's Own county. (I don't know why Yorkshire people are so fervently patriotic about their county!) My whole family is settled in Scotland so that kind of prevents me from moving back although I dream about that little cottage in the Dales, Aga in the kitchen, sheep bleating outside the window...

    (Photo of Kate Atkinson © Martin Hunter; photo of Lee Child © Sigrid Estrada;)

    From Publishers Weekly

    Starred Review. British author Atkinson's magnificently plotted fourth novel featuring Jackson Brodie (after When Will There Be Good News?) takes the "semi-retired" PI back to his Yorkshire hometown to trace the biological parents of Hope McMasters, a woman adopted by a couple in the 1970s at age two. Jackson is faced with more questions than answers when Hope's parents aren't in any database nor is her adoption on record. In the author's signature multilayered style, she shifts between past and present, interweaving the stories of Tracy Waterhouse, a recently retired detective superintendent now in charge of security at a Leeds mall, and aging actress Tilly Squires. On the same day that Jackson and Tilly are in the mall, Tracy makes a snap decision that will have lasting consequences for everyone. Atkinson injects wit even in the bleakest moments—such as Jackson's newfound appreciation for poetry, evoked in the Emily Dickinson–inspired title—yet never loses her razor-sharp edge. (Mar.)
    (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

    Product Details

    • File Size: 1669 KB
    • Print Length: 385 pages
    • Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books; 1 edition (March 21, 2011)
    • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B0047Y16XA
    • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Word Wise: Not Enabled
    • Lending: Not Enabled
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,273 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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    Customer Reviews

    3.8 out of 5 stars
    3.8 out of 5 stars
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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    151 of 162 people found the following review helpful
    Format:Kindle Edition
    First Sentence: Leeds: `Motorway City of the Seventies'.

    Spur of the moment decisions lead to life-altering consequences. A child and a dog link characters in an expected way that leads to injury and death.

    Atkinson has created several mysteries within one story in this latest outing, and although Jackson is the continuing thread between the books, he is certainly not the only significant character.

    One element I so enjoy about Atkinson's books is that her characters are somewhat abnormal for being no realistically normal. Brodie is an ex-cop, ex-PI with a number of failed or failing relationships. It is nice to learn much more about him and his background here. Tracy is a long way from being the attractive, sexy, young cop so common now. Tilly is an elderly actress with early dementia.

    I find it almost impossible to describe this book. The writing is clever but without feeling contrived. Her voice and humor are delightful. There are coincidences, but they are deliberate and play upon the theme. The theme, which comes from the traditional poem "For want of a nail..." is brilliantly played out.

    I did not find this the easiest book to read due to time and POV changes. It was a bit slow getting into, but it was never boring. I am always fascinated by Atkinson's writing and I love her titles. All I can say is that this is a book which can stand on its own and is very well worth reading.

    STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG (PI-Jackson Brodie-England-Cont) - VG
    Atkinson, Kate - 4th in series
    Doubleday, ©2010, UK Hardcover - ISBN: 9780385608022
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    173 of 190 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars Early start and sustained effort needed September 26, 2010
    By Hande Z
    Format:Kindle Edition
    This was a clever book with a clever, well-thought story and plot. It involved many characters, the main ones were Tracy Waterhouse, a policewoman who rescued a child, and Jackson Brodie, a private investigator who rescued a dog, and Matilda (Tilly) an old, senile actress who could hardly rescue herself. This is not an easy book to read, and certainly not one to read over weeks because one would lose focus and thus the connections that were to come together in the end. It was written with a stream-of-consciousness style of writing and so has a number of distractions thrown in which the reader has to figure out how they were relevant to the story. Furthermore, the author juxtaposed events so that one has to keep track of the dates in order to follow the clues and the story. I gave this book only three stars because it was not the kind of writing I enjoy reading; but to those who enjoy the challenge of a "warped" story and do not mind stream-of-consciousness narratives, they might give this 4 or 5 stars.
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    67 of 74 people found the following review helpful
    Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
    (4.5 stars) However good Kate Atkinson's three previous Jackson Brodie novels have been, they were just the warm-up for this one. Though they are often called "mysteries," Atkinson's novels are far more character-driven than the norm, and more literary in execution-intriguing on several levels simultaneously. In this novel, Jackson Brodie becomes a broader character, his inner life at least as important as the plot with which it intersects. Brodie has always had a problem with alcohol and women, with whom he has always looked for escape from some of the underlying miseries of his life. Married twice and "almost married" to a woman who fleeced him, Brodie can be forgiven for being cynical about people and their motives. The one characteristic which keeps Brodie going is his outrage about the injustices he sees around him, with his strongest calumny directed toward those who take advantage of children.

    In Started Early, Took My Dog, which takes place in Leeds, West Yorkshire, several plot lines begin before the entrance of Brodie. The starving, almost dead child of a prostitute is found in an apartment with the body of the mother in 1975, and the child is later adopted. The other story lines take place in the present. Two thugs have arranged to kidnap a child in Munich. A female former police superintendent in Leeds saves a child from being abused, then offers to buy the child from the prostitute who has been dragging her through the streets. A senile actress in a TV serial witnesses something she does not understand. Amid these beginning plot lines, Jackson Brodie sees a small dog being horribly abused by a muscleman and saves the dog, which quickly wiggles its way into his life and heart.
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    27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars A Wit and a Wistle! March 9, 2011
    Kate Atkinson's new book will leave you wanting more, positively! She's a wordsmith with a story that insists that we make moral choices we might rather ignore.

    One of her primary protagonists, Tracy, an otherwise "hard-nosed" member of the police force ...handling sexual offences, vice, human trafficking, and just about anything nobody else wanted to... is retired and wondering what to do with her life. Shopping on an afternoon at the local shopping center, she watches as an old druggie she recognizes from her days on the force, Kelly, appears to be dragging a tiny little girl and screaming at her. Tracy is drawn into the fray by instinct and curiousity. She follows Kelly, continuing to observe as she kicks at the child, screams at her to stop singing, dragging her through the crowds and down the street.

    Since Tracy knows Kelly's other children have already been taken away from her, and that she obviously isn't "clean," she wonders what the freakish woman is doing with this tiny child! When all is said and done, Tracy offers Kelly a chunk of money to "buy" the girl from her. Kelly's eyes are wide with greed. The transaction is made...the child's hand is transferred to Tracy's, and Kelly rides off into the sunset on the local bus. Not, however, before she mouths something like, "But she's not....." And Tracy is left wondering what she's done...helped or kidnapped a child! A child who instantly become one she can't bring herself to part with.

    Thus, begins this novel from the pen of Kate Atkinson. With a menagerie of lush, loveable characters complete with their particular idiosyncracies that only serve to make them more endearing, she has us captured from the get-go.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Published 16 days ago by Kiki
    5.0 out of 5 stars Does not disappoint
    I'm a huge Kate Atkinson fan. I love the twisting, turning, flash backing aspects of her Jackson Brodie books and this was no exception. Read more
    Published 17 days ago by judy hughes
    4.0 out of 5 stars Another fun one
    I just really like Jackson
    Published 23 days ago by Alexandra Andrews
    4.0 out of 5 stars Holiday read.
    A nice holiday read - light entertainment, but as always with Kate Atkinson, it is very well written.
    Published 24 days ago by Jeanne L. Skanke
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great novel
    I loved the writing, the characters, the storytelling most of all. This is a great novel. Enjoy it! I did
    Published 29 days ago by Amazon Customer
    5.0 out of 5 stars What's with the birthmark shaped like Africa?
    Can anybody tell me? The child, Courtney, had this birthmark. But what is Jackson's involvement with the birthmark? Read more
    Published 1 month ago by katznbooks
    5.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
    Our book club loved it!
    Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Great follow to Case Histories. Intricate plot that eventually ties. Hope we see more of Jackson Brodie.
    Published 1 month ago by Kenneth Baumgartner
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    In love your characters in this series. I hope you will continue writing about them.
    Published 2 months ago by Kathleen Barry
    3.0 out of 5 stars Some funny lines kept me reading.....
    At first I thought, I'm not going to read this book...I can't make head nor tails of it! However, I kept reading and it did get better; I enjoyed the funny asides, but had... Read more
    Published 2 months ago by Sharon Parsons
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    More About the Author

    Kate Atkinson's first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year Award. She has been a critically acclaimed, bestselling author ever since, with over one million copies of her books in print in the United States.

    She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News?, and Started Early, Took My Dog. Case Histories, which introduced her readers to Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, was made into a television series starring Jason Isaacs.

    Kate Atkinson lives in Edinburgh.

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    Topic From this Discussion
    How did the Munich kidnapping tie in to this book?
    In the Munich kidnapping, Brodie kidnapped a little girl who he knew had a brother, somewhere, but the brother was hidden away and no one ever saw him.

    I *think* the point was that, in thinking about the Munich case, it triggered Brodie to ask the question, "How many children did Carol... Read More
    May 15, 2011 by S. Ordway |  See all 6 posts
    Courtney's birthmark mystery
    Yes. There is a passage in the book when Jackson describes a man he met who kept a database of missing children including one with a birthmark in the shape of Africa. . .I think Atkinson is setting this up as the mystery at the center of her next JB novel. My guess is that in the next one, he... Read More
    Aug 23, 2011 by Nom de Plume |  See all 5 posts
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