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Tracy Waterhouse leads a uiet ordered life as a retired police detective a life that takes a surprising turn when she encounters Kelly Cross a habitual offender dragging a young child through town Both appear miserable and better off without each other or so decides Tracy in a snap decision that surprises herself as much as Kelly Suddenly burdened with a small child Tracy soon learns her parental inexperience is actually the least of her problems as much larger ones loom for her and her young charge Meanwhile Jackson Brodie the beloved detective of novels such as Case Histories is embarking on a different sort of rescue that of an abused dog Dog in tow Jackson is about to learn along with Tracy that no good deed goes unpunished

10 thoughts on “Started Early Took My Dog

  1. says:

    This novel is a great example of why I love Kate Atkinson’s writing so much It is witty with surprise literary flourishes It is authentic – I believe in the reality of all the characters and what they are experiencing She masterfully deploys her plots in such a way that fascination is enhancedIn this novel the plot and sub plots move between the mid 1970’s and roughly 30 years later There are tie ins with previous novels in this series There are perfectly dropped tiny references to literary pieces to music both lyrics and titles to current world events and historical ones It is virtually impossible to be bored with one of these novels as they keep you on your toes and checking or guessing at the mentions that add spice and texture to the plots and the charactersBriefly the plots in this 4th novel of the series revolve around missing children from 1975 For Jackson Brodie it starts in the present day with an email from a woman in New Zealand asking for his help to find out who she was when she was born in England thirty years before From her toddler years onward she had adoptive parents and now that they are gone she wants to find her rootsAlthough he doesn’t really want another client Jackson’s family history impels him to agree He is then propelled into situations that are funny dangerous illuminating in some respects and mystifying in othersAs we are led through the stories past and present connections begin to appear Again this is Kate Atkinson’s trademark her complete control over the directions the plots travel and the obliue yet carefully crafted interactions between characters – both past and present – until it all comes together in a crescendo Jackson Brodie is a hero of sorts He goes into a situation and stirs things up often endangering himself in the process and – much later – after resolutions come together in uick succession he moves off into the sunset talking to himself about plans that may or may not be what he wants to do nextThe sweet part in this novel is he has company on the next leg of his journey

  2. says:

    Always a joy to return to Kate Atkinson's brand of offbeat literary crime fiction the in depth case studies of complex characters and their interior lives of past tragedies and murder the repercussions and the weaving of coincidences and connections into the narrative set here in Leeds and Whitby in Yorkshire The retired police officer Tracy Waterhouse lives a uiet ordinary life of routines and working security in a mall Upon seeing a child being abused by a known offender the courageous Tracy steps out of her well ordered life into the extraordinary and morally ambiguous territory as she tries to do the right thing She purchases the child in an act loaded with good intentions after a life of the horrors she has seen an act that brings complications and repercussions An elderly actress Tilly Suires is fighting the growing grip of dementia haunted by past errors and loss The lonely and flawed Jackson Brodie is bedevilled by his messy and chaotic personal life and looking into a past life of a New Zealand woman to identify her birth mother Jackson does a good thing when without thinking twice he takes an abused dog from his thuggish owner There is much to love about this addition to the series the dark humour the cultural references the way Atkinson deftly weaves in the connections between the characters and in her stellar writing skills I particularly loved the relationship between Tracy and Courtney Many thanks to Random House Transworld for a copy

  3. says:

    5★“He supposed he would end up having to put himself down He planned to go out on the ice I may be some time lie down with a bottle of something as old as himself and drift off into the big sleep He hoped global warming didn’t scupper this plan”Black thoughts funny human but pretty much what you might expect from a lonely Yorkshire man “a West Riding man himself made from soot and rugby league and beef dripping ” who’s ended up on his own somehow with an ex wife and teenaged daughter an ex almost wife and newly discovered little son a lost love married to someone else and with a new baby and now with someone else’s dog He’s a retired detective who can’t seem to say no to people asking for help and he can’t stand by and watch anyone mistreated which is how he finds himself with a dog that was being bashed up It’s a bright perky little thing probably not what he would choose and it does cramp his lifestyle a bit“He couldn’t believe the number of places that dogs weren’t allowed Kids – not that he had anything against kids obviously – kids were allowed everywhere and dogs were much better behaved on the whole”He stopped to help a ditzy old lady obviously suffering from dementia which is what prompted his thoughts of going out on the ice like the old First Peoples of Canada when they’re too old to chew the fatHe’s had some cards printed up to show he’s a private investigator although it’s not what he intended to do – it’s just that he’s good at it He does worry that his memory is not functioning uite as uickly as it did“Jackson tried to remember why but the tiny people who resentfully ran his memory these days fetching and carrying folders checking the contents against index cards filing them away in boxes that were then placed on endless rows of grey metal Dexion shelving never to be found again had in an all too freuent occurrence mislaid that particular piece of information This sketchy blueprint for the neurological workings of his brain had been laid down in Jackson’s childhood by the Numskulls in his Beezer comic and he had never really developed a sophisticated model”I like to say my auto pilot needs recalibrating I’d never considered little people flitting around in my brain searching through filing cabinets but who knows?Silly Tilly the elderly absent minded actress whom Jackson helped and who turns out to be appearing in a TV show with Julia his ex not wife plays a rather major role in a few places in this book – all of them pretty unexpected But that’s an Atkinson story for you You never know who’s going to pop up connected to whom We always know before Jackson doesThis one is about stolen missing or misplaced children – than one – and it’s something I don’t think I ever realised was as common as it may well be We had livestock for many years and while we like to think that animal mothers know their own and they usually do they will often foster odd bods who’ve been left out for some reason In the interests of brevity not something I'm known for I’ll tuck an extra remark under here not a spoiler though view spoiler One of the funniest memories I have is of a circle of cows lined up around a circle of biscuits of hay we’d thrown out When a new suare was dropped they all moved around the circle one position assuming the neighbouring hay was better than theirs and the calves who’d been drinking from behind between the mothers’ back legs just let go and then plugged into the next mother who stood in front of them What a hoot They didn’t miss a sip and the mothers didn’t notice But I digress badly Oops hide spoiler

  4. says:

    The last time I read this I gave it 4 stars I am upping it to five I think reading the series straight through instead of having gaps of years between books has made it familiar and I am involved in the characters and their livesI know some readers do not like Atkinson's style and I can understand why Each of her books begins the same way jumping all over the place and introducing heaps of characters each of them with a detailed back story I love it although I always read her books in paperback format so I can easily pop back to confirm bits I might have missedStarted Early Took My Dog is probably my personal favourite out of the four books so far Jackson makes many appearances gains a new friend and has another near death experience Somewhere between the last book and this one he has discovered the truth about Nathan's parentage and has searched for but not found Tess There are some great new characters too especially Tracey and Courtney who provide most of the entertainmentI loved the setting The book opens 1975 9 April Leeds Motorway City of the Seventies I was living in Leeds in 1975 so I enjoyed every reference to every place in and around it enormouslyAltogether a really good book and now I am going to spend a little time anticipating #5 Big Sky before I actually read it After all it may be years before we get another Jackson Brodie book if ever

  5. says:

    InterferenceKate Atkinson’s fourth book in the Jackson Brodie series Started Early Took My Dog is another intriguing crime mystery novel that illustrates just how wonderful her characterisations and plotting are What I appreciate Kate for is that while Jackson Brodie is the series protagonist she will place other characters at the heart of a new plot This provides a fascinating character Jackson Brodie who we watch negotiate the disorder and struggle with life as he travels through the series In addition new characters come into focus that bring a uniue blend of personality and background to a specific story The strategy is brilliantEx police officer current security officer Tracy Waterhouse steps into a scene at a Shopping Centre in Leeds to rescue a young child Courtney from a nasty abusive woman In a step aimed at helping a child from a dreadful situation she buys the child and opens up issues that her settled life maybe wasn’t ready for I found this element too far fetched but putting it aside the relationship between Tracy and Courtney is very engaging as it develops The realisation of just having bought a child and its ramifications bring a completely different life to Tracy and Courtney especially as Courtney grows in confidence The dialogue is masterful drawing on the humour and crazy situations they find themselves in and learning so much about each otherWitnessing the infraction in the Shopping Centre is Tilly a retired actress an elderly lady experiencing the onset of dementia She has an episode at the Shopping Centre where her confusion leaves her feeling frightened and unsettled I had a real soft spot for Tilly and felt for her during her states of confusion where the public can be either understanding or impatientAt the same time Jackson engages with Tilly and shortly after rescues a dog from a brutal bully that has the dog cowering after being beaten Ex cop and current PI Jackson is now working for a New Zealander to help her find her estranged mother in BritainThree threads that weave imperceptibly through each other at different energies and timings This is something Kate does really well as each POV comes into focus the others are not entirely dropped That little touch of connection keeps everything alive and spinningThe characters in a Kate Atkinson novel and the clever way she brings about their connection with each other are just wonderful She is a very talented writer but there is something that holds me back giving 5 stars to her books and I think it’s because there’s always a bit too much coincidence and some steps of believability that don't sit well with meI would recommend reading this book and I’d like to thank Random House UK Transworld Publishers Black Swan and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC copy in return for an honest review

  6. says:

    Another Kate Atkinson arrived at our library and lived up to my sky high expectations Here's the thing if you want everything tied up in a neat package no If you want a linear narrative no Easy read no But if you love interesting complex characters complex stories and delightful writing yes Part time private eye and semi successful womanizer Jackson Brodie and cranky retired cop Tracy Waterhouse are the centerpieces of this book Jackson spends the book confused chasing several people that he believes may have the answers for an adopted client Tracy also spends the book confused running away from people she thinks are chasing her after she purchases an abused looking child from an angry petty criminal Atkinson tackles the themes of identity confusion and family while following these two constantly moving characters My only complaint is about the amount of time that Jackson spends brooding about his ex wivesgirlfriends Also there are some loose ends Atkinson tends to tie up her convergent stories by the last page This leads me to the happy conclusion though that we haven't seen the last of either Jackson or Tracy

  7. says:

    My friend Jemidar and I put off reading this the fourth of Kate Atkinson’s novels featuring former police officer and former private detective Jackson Brodie because we heard it ended in a cliffhanger We don’t like hanging from cliffs and thought we’d wait until the next Jackson Brodie novel was published before putting ourselves in that situation Turns out that Atkinson is not planning to write any books in the series in the foreseeable future so we decided to delay no longer As it happens we were also wrong in thinking that this novel ends in a cliffhanger Although the ending’s not tied up in a neat bow it does have a sense of completeness to it all the while leaving open the possibility that Atkinson could change her mind and return to writing about Jackson Brodie at some point in the futureThis installment in the series is set in and around Leeds and in Whitby in Northern Yorkshire Jackson is trying to track down the birth mother of a woman in New Zealand His investigation leads him to chance encounters with a retired policewoman working as a security officer a small child an elderly actress in the early stages of dementia and an abused dog From those encounters spins the story of a murder which occurred in 1975 police corruption and child abduction However the crimes are not the point of the novel As she does in the earlier Jackson Brodie novels – and for that matter in her standalone works Atkinson uses the plot to explore themes of grief loss loneliness dysfunctional family relationships and mortalityAtkinson’s characters are not happy or if they are happy it’s unlikely to last They are vulnerable damaged and lost looking for connection and only sometimes finding it For them loving is fraught with danger being loved is temporary at best but they still strive for both This sounds grim and it is And yet Atkinson’s elegant ironic prose her deft characterization and the intelligence compassion and humour of her writing make her novels a joy to read The most poignant and haunting scenes in this novel involve the secondary characters little Courtney with her collection of belongings her magic wand and her fingers forming stars; Tilly as she slowly sinks into dementia the loyal Yorkshire terrier rescuing its new masterA reader who expects a simple mystery or detective story from the Jackson Brodie novels will probably be disappointed Atkinson eschews a conventional linear narrative Instead she jumps around in time and uses interior monologues that at times border on stream of consciousness to advance the narrative In addition the work is full of literary allusions the title is a line from an Emily Dickinson poem and allusions to uantum mechanics Shrödinger’s cat appears than once Atkinson is not afraid to use improbable coincidences in the plot a techniue that has the potential to annoy fans of traditional crime fiction However the effect of chance encounters and the seemingly random choices people make are themes that run all through Atkinson’s writing and reinforce the sense she gives of the unpredictability of lifeIf this is indeed the last Jackson Brodie novel then it is a fitting end to his career While I’d like to see him return I completely understand if Atkinson decides to retire him permanently At least he’ll have that lovely dog to keep him company on his travels and to stop him from feeling too sorry for himselfI love Kate Atkinson’s writing and it has been a joy to read this particular novel with Jemidar

  8. says:

    I regret to say it but I didn't like this book as much as the three previous Jackson Brodie novels The writing felt looser not as polished There was lots of rambling and POV switching which sometimes made it hard to keep up with what was going on I also disliked the characters reminiscing so much as the narrative would skip between the past and the present without always signposting it And how annoying were all those descriptions of Jackson tapping in an email on his phone to Hope McMaster?I also wanted answers at the end which I didn't get Some mysteries were solved but Courtney's identity and Kelly Cross's murder two major threads of the plot were left unresolved which was frustrating Jackson's unexplained revelation at the end was clearly that Courtney's birthmark matched the list of distinguishing signs in Mitch's missing children folder but that doesn't answer anything it just confirms that she was a missing child and not Kelly's daughterBut I did like Tracy Waterhouse and Courtney's papal gestures with her silver fairy wand Their story carried the whole book along and made the other bits bearable

  9. says:

    Definitely my least favorite Jackson Brodie novelI've seen others rate this book very highly and to each their own but I thought it pretty much sucked I usually like Atkinson's typical method of having multiple storylines going on at once and true to form they did manage to blend together about 34 of the way through the book but I got extremely irritated with all of the pointless internal dialogue that did nothing to contribute to the story Having multiple characters is only good if the characters and their stories are actually interesting and I could've done without most of the extra backstory junk Also I think every page in which the character Tilly appeared could've been deleted altogether as she served no purpose whatsoever and was an absolute bore I realize that the entire story couldn't have been about Jackson but this book would've been a lot better if it focused on him and him solving the 'mystery'Oh and also storylines that don't get resolved irritate me Others may be fine with it but I think it's annoying How hard would it have been to tell us who Courtney's Mom really was? And maybe a bit of resolution from Hope's end ie what did she do with the information how did she take it? and not just Michael's would've been nice

  10. says:

    Started Early Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson is part of the mystery series featuring Jackson Brodie former policeman turned private investigator that has grabbed my heart Opening with the epigraph below these lines are echoed throughout this engrossing book as many disparate characters all come together as their lives intersect in very interesting ways Jackson Brodie is working in northern England for a client in Australia attempting to resolve the mystery of her birth and subseuent adoption Another key character is Tracy Waterhouse a former police detective now a mall security guard and her little charge Courtney This delightful child will capture your heart in so many endearing ways The title of the novel is taken from a poem by Emily Dickinson beginning with the line Started early took my dog with literary references throughout this many layered novel as Jackson Brodie has just discovered the writings of Emily Dickinson Brodie takes in abandoned dog that has clearly adopted him hence the title of the book It is a wonderful read one of my favorite so far of the series Enjoy For want of a nail the shoe was lostFor want of a shoe the horse was lostFor want of a horse the rider was lostFor want of a rider the battle was lostFor want of a battle the kingdom was lostAnd all for the want of a horseshoe nail Traditional