callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

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Started Early, Took My Dog

I’m told that all over London there are posters advertising Started Early, Took my Dog by Kate Atkinson. Nothing like that here in the sticks (Kate who?) but I knew already that I wanted to read it after enjoying Case Histories, One Good Turn, and When Will There Be Good News? (all links to my comments).

Started Early is the fourth novel to feature Jackson Brodie, the ex-army, ex-copper and now in theory ex-private investigator who has such a talent for getting himself into trouble. In 1975 a woman is murdered in Leeds. Note the date: the book is full of Ripper references. In 2010 Jackson Brodie is working for a woman in New Zealand who wants to trace her birth parents. Of course, there’s a connection. The main character turns out to be not Jackson but Tracy, also ex-police. Now in charge of security at a shopping centre (shades here of What was Lost) she virtually kidnaps a child she believes to be at risk. Jackson meanwhile, has virtually stolen a mistreated dog. Neat, eh? The narrative zooms backwards and forwards until the truth is revealed about that long-ago murder. One mystery remains…

It’s brilliantly written, full of literary references and barbed comments on the world then and now. Police corruption in the 1970s features heavily, with appropriate references to Life on Mars but we also get 2010 with no Woolworths and no money. Not at all what you’d call ‘a nice book’ because so much of it is seen from the point of view of Tracy, whose years in the Force have given her a jaded view of human beings and the dangers of the world. I could hardly put this down. There was some knitting I wanted to finish but after a few rows I just had to pick up the book again and read on. Of the four books, I think I prefer One Good Turn but I’d have to read them all again to be sure; which would be no hardship.
Tags: kate atkinson
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