Started Early, Took My Dog: A Novel (Jackson Brodie (4)) Audio CD – Unabridged, March 21, 2011
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"I can't take my nose out of Kate Atkinson's new thriller, Started Early, Took My Dog."―Alex Beam, The Boston Globe
About the Author
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- ISBN-10 : 1607886782
- ISBN-13 : 978-1607886785
- Product Dimensions : 5.25 x 1.5 x 5.75 inches
- Publisher : Reagan Arthur Books; Unabridged Edition (March 21, 2011)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,789,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The main character (who for some reason I kept picturing as a Hugh Jackson type with an "I've-had-about-enough" attitude) is a detective relentlessly determined to solve a crime, with a side story about a woman and a little girl that is just as rich.
Kate Atkinson has the ability to describe characters to the point you almost feel like you know them personally. And her unexpected twists and dry sense of humor throughout is fantastic. I immediately bought this book.
By the end of this novel I was crushed that I was no longer able to be part of the lives of these intriguing and incredibly well-described characters. I immediately checked out Kate Atkinson's first two books in the "Jackson Brody" series, which offered details of the detective's background, but sadly the stories weren't great (in my opinion).
I am now about to read other books by Kate Atkinson that are not part of this series, but can only hope she has another installment of Jackson Brody planned for the near future.
While all of the characters were engaging in their various struggles, I would have liked to see more of the total devoted to Jackson Brodie and his old flame Louise Monroe, a strong character who deserves more attention. Hopefully there will be more Brodie stories in the future to satisfy this small deficiency.
Also, Brodie, in pursuing his initial investigation, inadvertently causes a reaction that ripples through the story, involving Tracy and others. However, as in all the books of the series, the plot is a shadowy background presence. It lurks among all of the digressions that are often confusing, excessive, and explicatory. Eventually, the truth more or less emerges from the darkness.
Tracy Waterhouse is a retired policewoman who one day, out of sheer impulse, tries to slightly even the odds. Tracy, like most Kate Atkinson characters, has never really amounted to anything, and now that she’s in her fifties, she can clearly see that the best part of her life is now behind her. When she sees a well-known prostitute in public with a burden of a child, she obviously feels incredibly sorry for the small girl as her unloving mother is yelling, cursing and abusing her in broad daylight. It just so happens that Tracy is carrying quite a bit a cash at the moment, so she approaches the prostitute with a rather imprudent offer. She’ll buy her child from her. Well, as altruistic of a notion as this is, it’s not exactly legal, is it? So from here, the story kicks into high gear. Tracy is now on the run with her new “daughter”.
If you know Kate Atkinson, however, you know that she really can’t give us a simple, linear story such as I just described. So safe to say, there are lot of other ingredients that are thrown into this literary stew. We meet lots of other people with lots of other issues, and even go back in time 40 years to tell a lot of this tale. This can be a bit too much for some readers. One of the other people that we meet is former detective Jackson Brodie. This is the fourth (and to date, last) installment of Jackson Brodie in a Kate Atkinson novel, and in a strange way, this story is just as much about him as Tracy Waterhouse. Early in the story, Jackson “rescues” a small dog from an abusive owner, and we see many parallels between Jackson and his new dog and Tracy and her new little girl.
The fact that Jackson is a retired detective is always a bit misleading to some readers. Yes, Jackson does do a bit of sleuthing here and there, but Atkinson’s stories are never really “crime solving” books. With most “detective” authors, the writer spends much of the book slowly advancing the plot towards a conclusion. 90% of the book seems to be about moving along the plot lines, whereas only 10% seems to be about the characters’ backgrounds. With Atkinson, this ratio is basically reversed. We read so much about the people, their experiences and their sordid histories, that the actual plot is really secondary in terms of interest. Again, many readers don’t like this, but Atkinson does a marvelous job with her details and descriptions, that I tend to view reading her work as a breath of fresh air since these types of stories are so radically different than the average.
It also can be a turnoff that all of Atkinson’s characters seem to live hopelessly miserable lives. This particular book didn’t seem to be quite as morose as some of her others, but it could be that I’ve just become immune to all of these sullen individuals. I also find it a bit ironic that Atkinson seems to have a very strong aversion to God, religion, and any kind of faith, and her descriptions of her faithless characters can be a bit overwhelming. It seems like in every one of her books, she describes events in all of her character’s lives such as:
“She then prayed, but wasn’t sure what she was praying to, since she wasn’t religious.”
“He then went into a cathedral, which he hadn’t been any type of church for 40 years, since he wasn’t religious.”
“When the girl sneezed, she said ‘God Bless You’, although she wasn’t sure why, since she wasn’t religious.”
And on and on and on. There are types when I felt like approaching Kate Atkinson and saying “Well, you know, maybe if some of your characters had a bit of faith they wouldn’t all be so miserable!” But never mind. This is supposed to be a book review, not a theological discussion.
Like most of Atkinson’s books, she manages to juggle all of the different people living in all of the different timeframes quite well, and manages to tie up everything neatly in the end. If you are a fan of Kate Atkinson, I would highly recommend this book. It’s a bit sad to see Jackson no longer featured in her latter works, but I see no reason why he can’t come back. Sadly, he’s probably existing out there in a parallel literary world being….what else…..somewhat miserable.
Note: Supposedly the BBC has started a TV series around Jackson Brodie. I’ve heard that the t.v. series is nothing like the books either. So if you’re a fan of one, you may not necessarily be a fan of the other.
Top reviews from other countries
I enjoyed 'Started Early, Took My Dog', but I didn't think it was quite as good as the previous books in this series. However, that hasn't stopped me from immediately buying the final volume to discover what fate has planned next for Jackson.
There’s also one of her sleight-of-hands that was quite impressive. She moves fluidly between the present day (2010) and 1975 weaving a tale of lost and stolen children.
I am glad that I have now filled in the gap in the series.