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February 2019



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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.


I can't wait to read this (and Arkwright is now hooked on Kate Atkinson, so I might have to fight him for it).
If you loved the others, you'll love this, too. I'll back you in the fight :-)
Our library doesn't have it yet (it's still on order, apparently), so I might have to buy myself a copy. Glad to hear it's as good as the others anyway! I finished the new Catherine O'Flynn book the other night and found it disappointing.
Glad I didn't buy the Catherine O'Flynn then; I'll wait to read it from the library. I had a disappointment recently, grabbing a book with her name on the cover only to find it was just stories 'edited' or 'chosen' by her. Good job that was a library book.


Kate Atkinson

One of the nicer things about the internet is finding kindred spirits! I read One Good Turn first, then When Will There Be Good News and have just finished the first one, Case Histories. Definitely not easy, comfortable reading, but compulsive nonetheless. Looking forward to the new one.
My favourite is also One Good Turn, partly because of the character who writes 1940s crime stories featuring a girl PI who is 'like a Chalet School Head Girl who has turned detective' (I'm a Chalet School fan, among other things!


Re: Kate Atkinson

Hello, kindred spirit.
I read the first two out of order. Yes, I love that about the CS Head Girl!
Much as I enjoy these books I'm surprised someone has put them on a list of books for comfort reading. I hope you'll like this new one as much as the others. I wonder how far the author can take Jackson?
with appropriate references to Life on Mars

References to the actual series? I'll have to buy it then! :-) Besides, I love the title.

I have only read Case Histories so far (the rest is on my library reading list), but I take it they can be read out of order?
Don't go mad, I think it gets two mentions. Hard these days to write about 1970s policemen and their antediluvian ways without bringing in Gene Hunt.
Yes, although JB's complicated life progresses (women, accidents) I think you can enjoy them out of reading order.


You've made me want to try again with Kate Atkinson. I love her short stories, but wasn't that keen on Case Histories - probably because the murder was only introduced towards the end of the book which I thought was a cop-out.


By the way, if you need a copy of Mrs Miniver you can have mine if you want to email me a postal address.
Good! I find her very readable.

I can't remember mantioning Mrs Miniver recently? Thank you very much for the kind offer but I do have an old hardback copy of the book.