Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Review of "Started Early, Took My Dog" [13]

Started Early, Took My Dog
by Kate Atkinson
Reagan Arthur Books, ISBN 978-0316066730
March 21, 2011, 384 pages

 I started Early—Took my Dog—
And visited the Sea—
The Mermaids in the Basement
Came out to look at me—
Emily Dickinson

Our two main characters in this story, Jackson Brodie, back for his fourth appearance, and Tracy Waterhouse have a few things in common. Both are ex-cops, both are more than a little lonely and a bit at a loss as to what to do with themselves and other find themselves in Leeds on the edge of an adventure.

Jackson has taken a job, rather half heartedly, to try and find the birth family of a woman now living in New Zealand. But at the same time he is also keeping an eye open for clues to the location of his 'pretend' ex-wife who stole a great deal of money from him when she ran off.
Tracy's situation is even a little sadder. Never married, no children, few friends, her job was her life and now without it she is just beginning to sense the size of the void. She has taken a job as the head of security for a shopping mall, which gives her something to do...and lead her to the opportunity to make a purchase unlike anything she could ever have considered. In a instant, she makes a decision that will change her life.
For his part, Jackson also make an instantaneous decision and rescues a small dog being beaten by his owner. He happily gives the man a taste of his own medicine, and introduces who was perhaps my favorite character of this book, The Ambassador.  What a dog!

Not that the other characters are not good, because they are. I have not read the previous books in the series, but I don't think it is necessary. The author lets us know everything we need to about Taylor's past to understand what is going on. But I must say I was taken enough with him to want and go back and read the previous ones soon. And Tracy is great! No ones fool, more than willing and able to protect those she cares about and at time very funny. She and her sidekick, who I will let you meet for yourself, make a delightful pair, on a great, if rather dangerous, adventure.

The setup of the story, with a number of intertwining stories, both past and present, took me a little bit to get used to, but then became quite enjoyable. Ms. Atkinson is not beyond using a bit of misdirection and a little sleight of hand, so the reader has to stay or his or her toes as to not go down the wrong path, plot wise You may think you know where the story is going, only to have things turned about as we make another connection. There are a lot of clues, not a few red herrings and before you know it it will all start to tie together and it all adds up to a great read.


  1. I've only read Case Histories, but I would consider Atkinson a solid literary thriller kinda gal. I think I have most of her books on my Kindle, and I've vowed to make her a project this year. I look forward to it! And the dog!

  2. I know what you mean - it took me a while to get into this book too, but I did end up enjoying it too.

  3. I started this book and then gave up. I just couldn't get into it. Though it was my first book by her.

  4. I'm excited that there's a great dog in this story...and I already love Tracy for rescuing him! I haven't read any of Atkinson's books yet but I want to. I have this book/ARC but haven't read it yet. I think I will soon after reading your review.

    I'm so glad you enjoyed this book!

  5. Now I'm even more excited to read this!! I have one more to go before getting to this one. Sounds like it has all that I've come to expect from Akinson!

  6. I love Kate Atkinson .. but I am confused .. you start off mentioning both Jackson Brodie and Tracy Waterhouse .. and then you wrote "For his part, Taylor also make an instantaneous decision" WHO is Taylor?

  7. Interesting - I started this and couldn't get into it. Sounds like I need to go back and stick with it a bit longer. Thanks for the review!

  8. She definitely takes some getting used to. I've read all of hers, and had hoped by the time I got to this one, that I'd be used to her trying to tie four or five different stories together. Now, I think I'm just ready to sit back and let things flow...they always come together in the end.

  9. I totally agree. You shouldn't try too hard, trying to figure out where it is going and how it connects. Relax..it will.


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