Customer Reviews


280 Reviews
5 star:
 (111)
4 star:
 (78)
3 star:
 (31)
2 star:
 (34)
1 star:
 (26)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


149 of 159 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "For the want of a nail..." - Atkinson is always a wonderful read
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...
Published on September 8, 2010 by L. J. Roberts

versus
170 of 186 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Early start and sustained effort needed
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...
Published on September 26, 2010 by Hande Z


‹ Previous | 1 228 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

149 of 159 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "For the want of a nail..." - Atkinson is always a wonderful read, September 8, 2010
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
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


170 of 186 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Early start and sustained effort needed, September 26, 2010
By 
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Everyone has a killer inside them just waiting to get out, some more patient than others.", March 26, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
(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.

What follows is a complex story of identity, including Jackson Brodie's own identity, as characters who were orphaned and/or adopted try to understand the past and make connections. Brodie himself has never recovered from the death of his sister Niamh, one of several deaths which decimated his family before he had even reached his teen years. Jackson becomes involved in the search for truth regarding the other plot lineswhen he is hired to try to find the parents of one of these adoptees.

Atkinson's irrepressible humor comes through in her style: She includes more literary references per page, often humorously, than most other writers have in an entire novel. These fit into the narrative so smoothly that it is easy to overlook them. In one ten-page sequence near the beginning, for example, Atkinson gives brief quotations from Cormac McCarthy, Emily Dickinson (who seems to be a favorite throughout), and Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and his Sonnet 73 on death. Birth, love, aging, and death are constant themes here as several adults, including Jackson Brodie, try to come to terms with their lives as children and find peace. Some, like Jackson Brodie, still have hope--"Hope is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul/And sings the tune without the words/ and never stops--at all." (Emily Dickinson)

Jackson Brodie #1: Case Histories: A Novel
Brodie #2: One Good Turn: A Novel
Brodie #3: When Will There Be Good News?: A Novel
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 27 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. Not only does she give us the quintessential darling, little urchin, but she also includes a scrappy little dog that was rescued from a snarling, abusive hood!

Attention given not just to description but also to the quirkiness of inner thoughts and dialog; as well as to bucolic surroundings makes for a great deal of this author's genius. Plus, I wonder how she could have made the tension knot up inside me over that scruffy mutt! Such techniques will have you experiencing all sorts of comedy as you read this book.

Ms Atkinson seasons her novel with wit, perfect timing and a humor that will catch you off-guard when you least expect it. I found myself laughing and smiling often as I read this book. While she is astute and serious about her main and parallel storylines, and there is much to learn here with regard to morality and choices, her subtle, silver-handed delivery with its tinge of the obsurd is unique to her style. It's no wonder that she has won awards for her previous work.

Jackson Brodie, the soul searching, former private detective of "Started Early, Took My Dog," is a character featured in others of her books. His odd relationship with his ex-wife throughout the story is so charming. It has the qualilty both to drive him mad and to sustain him, making it a sadistic little treasure for the reader to enjoy in and of itself! I need to read more about him, absolutely.

Kate Atkinson is a writer of exceptional quality. I highly recommend reading her newest book, "Started Early, Took My Dog." It's an enjoyable read that goes well with a glass of wine, some Respighi (Ancient Dances and Airs Suite 2..) on low, and a comfy chair...sophisticated and easy on the heart.

Highly recommended without reservation.

Deborah/TheBookishDame
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant mystery novel, April 6, 2011
By 
Bookreporter (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
In three previous novels, Kate Atkinson has creatively played with the conventions of the mystery genre through the character of private investigator Jackson Brodie. Now, in STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG, she continues to broaden the genre's possibilities while exploring character, coincidence and interconnection --- of lives and themes.

The book opens with a chance encounter at a shopping mall in Leeds, an industrial city in northern England. Tracy Waterhouse, a recently retired police detective now working as the head of security for the shopping center, spots an old acquaintance screaming at a young girl and hauling her through the mall at breakneck speed. On a whim, Tracy offers the frazzled mother an envelope stuffed with cash in exchange for her daughter. The woman --- who has never been known for her moral scruples --- seems grateful to see the last of the child. But soon Tracy realizes that she may have stepped into a situation that's more than she can handle --- especially when she starts being followed by a mysterious gray car and threatened by burly thugs.

Witness to this bizarre exchange are Tilly, an elderly actress whose growing senility is creeping up on her, and Jackson, who has come to Leeds in part to investigate the origins of his client, a New Zealand woman who was adopted at an early age and whose attempts to research her birth parents have resulted in more questions than answers. Jackson soon discovers that he's not the only one researching a 30-year-old case. And as his investigation broadens, readers come to see the connections --- both thematic and actual --- between the investigation and the stories of others (Tracy included) whose paths he intersects.

How Atkinson reveals these connections --- and develops richly complicated characters --- is a brilliant piece of plot development. Bouncing back and forth between the 1970s and the present day, shifting rapidly among her primary characters, the novel is like an enormous, endlessly delightful puzzle. She includes the requisite detective-fiction elements --- red herrings, chase scenes, unsolved crimes --- but density and complexity of character and theme are always at the forefront. Jackson is both competent and clueless; his endearing relationship with a rescued dog known as The Ambassador (a parallel to Tracy's bargain) is comic and touching, as is Jackson's new-found appreciation of Emily Dickinson's poetry ("Split the Lark --- and you'll find the Music, / Bulb after Bulb, in Silver rolled. What kind of a woman came up with an image like that? Jackson felt pretty sure that Emily Dickinson didn't wake up hung over, with a strange man in her bed.").

Children who are lost (in more ways than one), adults who want to save them but don't know how, the broad swathes of gray that lie between the black and white of moral judgments: these are Atkinson's concerns, and they become the readers' as well. STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG is a tremendous novel --- as enjoyable for its mystery plot as it is for its ideas, as funny as it is heartbreaking.

--- Reviewed by Norah Piehl
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Characters not given correct priority, May 24, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Once I figured out the time sequence (first section takes place in 1975, second sections takes place "six months earlier." Took me a loooong time to figure out that that meant six month earlier than TODAY, not six month earlier than the first section), I settled in for a good read. The first time I met Tilly, I was amazed at how well the author wrote about the mental confusion of dementia. But the third, fourth, fifth time I enter her hazy state, I'm desparate to figure out ANY connection of her to the story. Turns out her whole reason for being is so she can be there to cause a train wreck! She could have been introduced on the train platform with a couple of good, descriptive paragraphs.

The policemen, on the other hand, are introduced all at once at a party, given no distinctive characteristics, and then mostly disappear until late in the story. And THEY turn out to be the most important characters when we get to the end. I had to search their names to find out who they were and what their relationships were to the other characters by the time they appeared again. Thank goodness for the Kindle search tool.

And the ending feels very, very rushed. Poor Michael, the kid who sat for weeks with his dead mother, is dispensed with in a one- or two-sentence description. His upbringing, his adoptive home, his psychological struggles, would have been very, very interesting. And the fact that the murdered woman had two children, not just the poor kid who sat with her body, is just dropped in somewhere haphazardly. Felt red-herring-ish and manipulative.

And we never do get to hear how Courtney, the child of a crack-whore, was so sweet and smart and knew so many nursery rhymes and other markers of a well-cared-for child. There were hints that she might possibly be someone else's kid, but that line was dropped and never again addressed.

Plus, no dog barks as little as this one does.

I give this book two stars instead of one because I loved the literary references and quotes and how deftly they were woven into the story. But if someone asks me if I recommend the book, I would say no.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SWING - and a miss, April 4, 2011
She's still a good writer - even a mediocre novel by KA equals a very good one by someone else. But this didn't work for me. Partly, the structure was off: so many of the policemen were introduced at first and promptly forgotten by me, because I didn't have any thing to remember them by.

Barry? Ray? Len Lomax? Who cares? Then, by the time I realized I needed a refresher on them, I was too deep and didn't want to go back to the beginning because I was on Kindle, and don't know how to move around easily.

I loved "Case Histories" and the two that followed, so I was eagerly awaiting this. What it made me think of was Thomas Harris - remember how everybody wanted a sequel to "The Silence of the Lambs" - and finally he wrote "Hannibal."

But you could tell he didn't really want to do it. I suppose once he'd made his mark, and plenty of money, he wanted to lay back and enjoy it. But he had promises to keep, and miles to go...

So he (grudgingly, it seemed) came out with Hannibal. At least, that's how it seemed to me. And he put in that gruesome scene where people are actually eating the living brain of Hannibal - and I wonder if that's how it felt to be him: that we were actually consuming his body and mind.

And he didn't like it!

Let me repeat: she is a first-rate author, and my disappointment was because of that: I expected a first-rate novel. The main character was Tracy, and I would like to have known who Courtney's mother was, and if Tracy would get to keep her.

But Atkinson has a way of giving her characters plenty of money and shipping them off to France when she's tired of working out plot details - she did that with Jackson too, of course - but Jackson had dreamed of France all through "Case Histories" and we knew he'd be okay. Not so with Tracy.

"Of course" - how often and tediously she repeated those words! Now I'm getting petty. I'll just end with: I was disappointed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, December 21, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
One of the best books I have read for some time. The story follows a series of characters interlinked by child abductions now and in the past. While the story is a crime novel, the main protagonists are beautifully drawn and it is their stories which make this an excellent read. I read this in 2 sittings, would have been one had I had the time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Left Early Took My Dog, May 25, 2011
By 
I added this book to my reading list because of all the reviews. I read the entire book because of the reviews and kept reading because of the slam-bang ending that was promised. I found this book to be the most confusing book I can ever remember reading. I don't mind going back and forth in time with characters but this was so confusing and there were so many characters it was difficult to keep track of everybody and what part they played. Making it worse was knowing that all these characters would play a part in the ending. One character in particular, Tilly, was complex and detailed that I thought she must surely be important. I was disappointed that after all the hype about her character that the part she played in the ending was not in relation to the build up.

All in all, I didn't enjoy this book and after completing it and closing the book I was not left with the feeling of having read a good book!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Atkinson multi-thread delight, March 31, 2011
By 
P. ODonnell (Ft Washington, PA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Another Kate Atkinson arrives and lives up to my sky-high expectations.

If you want everything tied up in a neat package: No. If you want a linear narrative: No. "Easy read?": No. But if you love interesting, complex characters, complex stories and delightful writing: Absolutely Yes.

Part-time private-eye and semi-successful womanizer Jackson Brodie, and cranky retired cop Tracy Waterhouse are the centerpieces of this book. Jackson spends the book confused, chasing several people that he believes may have the answers for an adopted client. Tracy also spends the book confused, running away from people she thinks are pursuing her after she "purchases" an abused-looking child from an angry petty criminal. Atkinson tackles the themes of identity, confusion, and family while following these two constantly-moving characters.

My only complaint is about the amount of time that Jackson spends brooding about his ex-wives/girlfriends. Also, there are some loose ends (Atkinson tends to tie up her convergent stories by the last page). This leads me to the happy conclusion, though, that we haven't seen the last of either Jackson or Tracy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 228 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Started Early, Took My Dog
Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson (Hardcover - February 7, 2011)
Used & New from: $1.60
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.