Review: Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

Target audience: adults
Genre: crime mystery/detective story
Pages: 496
Form: e-book, pdf file


It is the third part of Jackson Brodie adventures – you can read this series out of order but, in my humble opinion, it helps if you start with the previous novels. The other titles are as follows: ‘Case Histories’, ‘One Good Turn’, ‘When Will There Be Good News?’. I read all of them, reviewed the two linked ones  so I couldn’t let this one slip by.
As it is usually the case with Kate Atkinson books the plot is not easy to summarize – we follow for some time three main characters (some might argue there are just two of them but I think otherwise), also switching back and forth between the current day and the 70s. Jackson Brodie, a detective with a very sad past, is looking for genetic parents of a woman who was adopted as a child and then taken to Australia. Tracy Waterhouse, a retired policewoman now working as a security chief, has just bought a kid from a prostitute (don’t ask, I can’t tell more) and is followed by some shadowy types. Tilly, an elderly actress, is losing her mind (dementia?) while reminiscing about her past life and career. As usual, their fates intertwine somehow and the grand finale, when everything becomes more or less clear, is set in Leeds.

What I liked:

I warn you – if you look for a fast-paced book featuring young, nubile girls with swords who fall in love with a vampire or a werewolf don’t start this one. The story is hardly fast moving, it meanders into philosophical jaunts, leads and misleads the reader, but the subtle character development is a real treat and a huge advantage. This book makes you think and there are no dull characters here. Even older people were given proper care and attention – I suppose it was the fact I appreciated the most. How many interesting books you’ve read recently featured an elderly lady in the throes of dementia (or Alzheimer’s, she is not diagnosed and I am not a doctor)? Mind you the narration rivets you instantly – although it is a maze, it is a maze which you love to explore.

What’s more, this book simply oozes intelligent slants on common themes such as education of children, aggressive behaviour, the problems of senior citizens (you see how politically correct a good book can make me?) cruelty to animals, racial animosities and welfare system – although these trains of thoughts often made the pace of narration significantly slower (small wonder, after all), I never failed to appreciate them.

Finally the style of Ms Atkinson suits me perfectly – she simply forces you to explore. In this book she uses the idea of Schrödinger’s cat, the paradoxical creature that can be both alive and dead, in a very creative way – practically edutainment!

Oh and the poems of Emily Dickinson, one of my favourite poem writers, were a very nice addition to the plot. The title is taken from one of them too. Somehow it fits. The cover art is nice as well.

What I didn’t like:

The book ends with one big cliffie. Really a mean trick. Jackson’s mobile is ringing, the ID shows that it is the love of his life on the other side and he wonders (for a reason or two): to pick it up or not? While the anxious reader is shouting mentally in his or her head “pick it up, you fool, pick it up!” the book finishes. The rest is the silence. And a poem of Emily Dickinson. Groan…

Final verdict:

I enjoyed reading this one but I would prefer no cliffhangers in the future. They make me angry. I might not read the next part at all.

This entry was posted in book review, contemporary, crime, thriller and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Review: Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

  1. Nice review! The name of the book is so weird though. You would hardly expect something like this to "meander into philosophical jaunts". Anywho, looks like I'll read it anyway (as soon as I get the time). 🙂

  2. This sounds so interesting…I'm intrigued…but wish I didn't have to read the others to get to this one :p

  3. Tracy says:

    I have this on my TBR shelf. I like the Jackson Brodie series, so I'm really looking forward to this one – I've been saving it for a special treat.

  4. Anachronist says:

    Absie, the title of this book is explained in a very good way in the plot – I do recomment it! Peppermint – well, you can start with this one but then do not complain that you don't get some details…Tracy – it was indeed a special treat. Even with the cliffie.

  5. Blodeuedd says:

    Argfhhhh, eviiiiiil! You can't end a book like that

  6. Anachronist says:

    I know, Blodeuedd, I know, I can relate but some authors are just that – evil.

  7. I hate cliffhangers too. I love the title though and "The story is hardly fast moving, it meanders into philosophical jaunts, leads and misleads the reader" sound good too. I long for the day when I can read recreationally again.

  8. Anachronist says:

    I think you might like it, The Red Witch – I hope you will be able to read recreationally sooner or later!

  9. Tasha B. says:

    I saw the first season of the TV series based on these books last year, and I wasn't really impressed with it. I don't mind mysteries that are moody or philosophical, but I don't have much patience for tangents. Or in general. 😉

  10. Anachronist says:

    I haven't seen that TV series but I enjoyed the books. I do admit they are a tad more demanding, patience wise, than the ordinary fare but at the end you are pleased you've been so understanding.

Comments are closed.