Sunday Books: Kate Atkinson – Started Early, Took My Dog

After four weeks, I’ve finally gotten around to finishing this book. It’s the fourth in Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie crime series.

Brodie is hired by a client to discover the identity of her biological parents. As he investigates, he discovers the story of a grisly 1975 murder and its subsequent cover up by police. His life once again spins out of control as people try to prevent him from finding the truth.

Once again, a great strength of the book is the well developed supporting cast of characters. I loved the story line about ex-police superintendent Tracy Waterhouse. She is as tough as nails, a butch senior cop who is ‘built like a brick s*** house’. Part of her tragedy is that as a young woman she had more feminine aspirations which were buried deep inside to enable her to survive and succeed in the man’s world of 1970s policing. While she held the respect of her male colleagues, who regarded her as ‘one of the boy’s, she was unable to succeed in those other areas of life that she wanted, like becoming a mother, or finding a husband. Even her attempts at home decorating were failures. She begins the book as a lonely character with little to look forward to – just going through the motions of life; however, after an encounter with an abused child, her life changes course. She embarks upon a life of crime and manages to find a purpose and some fulfillment.

I also enjoyed the character Tilly, an aging actress who was in the early stages of dementia. We get to see the world through her eyes. At times she sees great clarity, at others she is confused and frightened. Her character plays a minor role in the major story – on a couple of occasions she stumbles into some key events and manages to alter their course. That Atkinson bothered to create this complex minor character and develop her story for us is one of the reasons I enjoy her books.

As with her other books, Atkinson resolves the main mysteries but leaves others open. This frustrated me a little more than with the other novels. I’m hoping there will be another Jackson Brodie book on it’s way that will tie up some of those loose ends.

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One thought on “Sunday Books: Kate Atkinson – Started Early, Took My Dog

  1. This is actually the fourth in the Jackson Brodie. And the last, thus far. When I saw that you were reading “the fifth,” I got really excited! This series goes beyond “mystery genre.” Kate Atkinson is just the BEST.

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