Book Review: Started Early, Took My Dog – Kate Atkinson

Title: Started Early, Took My Dog
Author: Kate Atkinson
ISBN: 9780316066730
Pages: 384
Release Date: March 21, 2011
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
Genre: Literary Fiction, Literary Mystery
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Tracy Waterhouse is a former police superintendent who isn’t really enjoying retirement. When she sees someone she knew from her police days on a train, clutching the hand of a young child, she does the unthinkable on impulse and must deal with the consequences. Meanwhile, Jackson Brodie, a private investigator, is investigating the past, trying to find out about his client’s true beginnings. And finally, there’s Tilly, an elderly former actress who is suffering from the early stages of dementia. How are these people connected, and what are each of them searching for?

Review:

Kate Atkinson is a talented writer, and Started Early, Took My Dog, her fourth novel starring private investigator Jackson Brodie, showcases that from the very beginning. Her novels are billed as mysteries, but they barely fall into that category. Yes, there are always mystery-style plotlines running under Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie novels, but these are very much literary reads, with thought-provoking questions and surprising plot twists around every turn.

Started Early, Took My Dog is written in a unique, almost stream-of-consciousness style. There are random observations and details inserted into the novel, so readers must puzzle over them to determine which are relevant and which are not. It makes for an engaging read, to be sure, but some readers may become frustrated by the narrative style. Additionally, the novel jumps in time periods and among narrators quite frequently, which can make it difficult to follow the story. It’s gorgeously told, to be sure, but it’s a read that takes a bit of effort.

There are many characters in Started Early, Took My Dog, and the character list just keeps expanding as the novel progresses. As a result, it’s a novel you’ll want to read slowly—but not too slowly, as you don’t want to forget about the connections between characters. Atkinson writes believable, sympathetic characters in each of her novels. Tracy is not your average heroine; she’s older and overweight, and generally just frazzled. Her impulse is understandable, but it’s shocking (to both the reader and Tracy herself) that she actually acts on it. Meanwhile, it’s always nice to revisit with Jackson. If you’ve never read any previous novels about him, you won’t be missing anything, but Atkinson takes care with his character and makes sure to develop him further in this book.

Kate Atkinson appeals to a particular sort of reader: the type that doesn’t mind a bit of work in their reads, especially when they know the author will deliver a payoff at the end. That is exactly Kate Atkinson; these aren’t books you’ll want to read in one sitting, but rather books you’ll want to savor, piece by piece, to ensure you don’t miss some small clue. If you’re looking for a quick, easy read, this probably isn’t the book for you, but for fans of literary fiction, especially mysteries, Kate Atkinson is a must-read author.

Other books by Kate Atkinson:

When Will There Be Good News?

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Comments

  1. Even though I am not always a fan of this type of writing, Atkinson has so much talent that I am eager to start with the first book in this series, which I have. I read a book by her a very long time ago that I liked, but that was much different than these Brodie books. I am glad that this was a good read for you!

  2. Even though I am not always a fan of this type of writing, Atkinson has so much talent that I am eager to start with the first book in this series, which I have. I read a book by her a very long time ago that I liked, but that was much different than these Brodie books. I am glad that this was a good read for you!

  3. I’ve not read anything by Kate Atkinson, but I have to say that you’ve convinced me to add her to my list! This book sounds terrific.

  4. I’ve not read anything by Kate Atkinson, but I have to say that you’ve convinced me to add her to my list! This book sounds terrific.

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  6. I found Atkinson slow but interesting. I read this a while ago and found it intriguing.

  7. I found Atkinson slow but interesting. I read this a while ago and found it intriguing.

  8. I’ve read a couple of her books with Jackson Brodie and have liked them. But I’m a bit more interested in reading her new one Life After Life which is a bit different without Brodie. hmm. Cheers. http://www.thecuecard.com/

  9. I’ve read a couple of her books with Jackson Brodie and have liked them. But I’m a bit more interested in reading her new one Life After Life which is a bit different without Brodie. hmm. Cheers. http://www.thecuecard.com/

  10. I too enjoyed this book…Atkinson is an excellent writer

  11. I too enjoyed this book…Atkinson is an excellent writer

  12. I haven’t read any of the Jackson Brodie series yet. I’ve got Case Hisrories on my nook. Good to hear the series is still getting high ratings with the fourth book.

  13. I haven’t read any of the Jackson Brodie series yet. I’ve got Case Hisrories on my nook. Good to hear the series is still getting high ratings with the fourth book.

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