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Review: Started Early, Took My Dog

April 12, 2011

Jackson Brodie has been hired by Hope McMasters to find her birth parents.  As he pursues the few leads he has, it seems he’s crossing paths with another detective, Brian Jackson, who has been hired to find someone else.

Retired detective Tracy Waterhouse is out shopping one day and witnesses a scene that appalls her.  She reacts in an unexpected way and ends up with something she didn’t bargain for.

Aging actress Tilly is trying to do her job, but dementia is eating away at her brain, so everything is difficult for her.   She seems to be living in the past more than the present.

Readers discover that the current mysteries are tied to one from the past when the characters’ worlds collide.

I’ve heard great things about Kate Atkinson‘s work, so I was really excited to read Started Early, Took My Dog.  I liked the book a lot, but didn’t quite love it.  The book is Atkinson’s fourth Jackson Brodie novel, and I suspect I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read the previous books.  Some background was filled in, but when it was, I still felt like I was missing something.

The book is technically a mystery, but it’s not the heart-pounding, page-turning thriller type of mystery – it’s more literary in nature.  It’s quiet and thought provoking and leaves several questions unanswered in the end.

Told in the third person from several points of view, and alternating between the present day and 1975, Started Early, Took My Dog is a solid mystery with fantastic characterization.  This book will appeal to both mystery and literary fiction lovers.

To see more thoughts and join in on a discussion of the book, be sure to check the read-along on the Reagan Arthur Books Challenge blog.

Challenge: Reagan Arthur Books Challenge

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
37 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2011 5:06 am

    I found it difficult to get going with this book at the beginning but liked it later on. My review is also up.

  2. April 12, 2011 5:28 am

    I would like to try one of Kate Atkinson’s books. I’ve heard great things about her. Sometimes starting in the middle of a series is difficult. Even if it works as a great standalone, I always feel like I’m missing something.

  3. April 12, 2011 6:10 am

    I’ve just read one book by Kate Atkinson, but I loved it! She’s an amazing writer. I can’t wait to read Started Early, Took My Dog.

  4. April 12, 2011 6:27 am

    I absolutely loved this book and especially Ms. Atkinson’s writing. I am looking forward to the read-along discussion!

  5. April 12, 2011 6:45 am

    I read Case Histories a long time ago, before blogging. She definitely is a more deliberate, literary writer, with her story building slowly, but I loved it. I’ve been wanting to read more of her, and I really do love this title!

  6. April 12, 2011 7:32 am

    This book sounds like one I might enjoy if I had read the previous books in the series first.

  7. April 12, 2011 7:49 am

    Your review has made me think twice – I’ll look for it.

  8. April 12, 2011 7:59 am

    A mystery without heart-pounding feeling, very interesting!

  9. April 12, 2011 8:24 am

    I really like Atkinson’s standalone novels, but haven’t read any of her series work. It sounds like I would enjoy this one, but only if I started from the beginning with them. A few of the narrative descriptions sound rather interesting to me.

  10. April 12, 2011 9:43 am

    I’ve not read a Kate Atkinson book either. Sorry you didn’t love it, I’ll take care and pick up the first in the series.

  11. April 12, 2011 10:02 am

    I read her earlier books but sort of forgot them, but I know I really liked her as an author. I think I need to go back to the beginning and reread!

  12. April 12, 2011 10:32 am

    I love Kate Atkinson, but hadn’t heard of this one. Thank you for the introduction–will definitely look for it!

  13. April 12, 2011 11:16 am

    I haven’t read anything by this author, but I like less intense mysteries, so I’m going to have to see if I can find some of her books.

  14. April 12, 2011 11:18 am

    I read one Atkinson book and didn’t love it either. I tired of the “separate stories but sort of woven together” format. The one we read, Case Histories, was read for book club and it was a poor choice. There was absolutely nothing to discuss.

  15. April 12, 2011 11:21 am

    I haven’t read any of the Jackson Brodie books, not sure if they are for me. I love the title though.

  16. April 12, 2011 11:25 am

    This sounds like a book to enjoy! I haven’t read any of the Jackson Brodie books either, but the title of this one is really good.

  17. April 12, 2011 11:41 am

    I haven’t read anything by this author yet. The title is catchy, though. I will keep in mind this is a series and perhaps start with the first one.

  18. April 12, 2011 12:07 pm

    Kathy, I haven’t read any Jackson Brodie novels. This sounds like a book I’d enjoy. It seems to be well written.

  19. April 12, 2011 1:08 pm

    I am a huge fan of Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie books. I can’t wait to get to this one!

  20. April 12, 2011 1:13 pm

    Excellent review! I have not read this author, but this sounds rather intriguing!

  21. April 12, 2011 3:08 pm

    I totally agree with you on this one…I loved her other books…this one…not at all. I didn’t like anything about it.

  22. April 12, 2011 3:54 pm

    I do think I have heard about her before, but I do not remember much at all

  23. April 12, 2011 4:53 pm

    I do love the title. That’s gotta be worth something:)

  24. April 12, 2011 7:59 pm

    I keep hearing great things about this author, too, but evidently started with another “wrong” one. Hmmm.

  25. April 12, 2011 9:21 pm

    I read the first one and really enjoyed it. I should move on to the next one. And you’re right…they are not heart pounding mysteries but more about the people involved.

  26. stacybuckeye permalink
    April 12, 2011 9:48 pm

    I have an Atkinson book on my shelf and just checked. Sure enough it is book two of Jackson Brodie. I’m so glad I saw this or I may have read it first!

  27. April 13, 2011 7:02 am

    I love the sound of this one. and have been reading lots of favorable reviews. Thanks for yours Kathy

  28. April 13, 2011 7:57 am

    I had a slightly similar experience with an earlier Kate A book. Lots of like, not quite love. Great respect with what she can do with language. (And I love the words you found and define for us today.)

  29. April 13, 2011 9:14 am

    Hrrmm…I’ve read two of the previous Jackson Brodie books, but barely remember anything. I’m starting to wonder if I’ll feel like I’m missing something as well.

  30. April 13, 2011 10:32 am

    This is a new author to me. It sounds like there are plenty of good characters in this one.

  31. April 13, 2011 12:37 pm

    Must add this one to my reading list, love the title. Great review!

  32. April 13, 2011 1:24 pm

    Atkinson is an author I have been meaning to read for too long. I have When Will There Be Good News on audio and hope to listen to soon. I appreciate your comment about reading earlier Jackson Brodie mysteries before Started Early, but I’m glad you enjoyed this book!

  33. April 13, 2011 10:13 pm

    All the bookstores around here feature this book prominently. May have to indulge! Great review.

  34. April 14, 2011 1:46 pm

    I’ve been wanting to read Kate Atkinson as well so I’m glad you mentioned the fact that they’re a bit serial in nature. I had no idea and will definitely be on the lookout when I do decide to read her! I agree that even if not truly a sequel, sometimes not having the backstory can make a big difference.

  35. April 14, 2011 7:27 pm

    I keep meaning to try one of her books one day…

  36. April 16, 2011 11:29 am

    The title makes me laugh. Will note what you said and will read the others prior to starting this one. I had that moment of “uhhhh I think I’m missing something” this month already… going to avoid that feeling 😉

  37. April 18, 2011 10:42 am

    I love the title of this novel.

    The problem I sometimes have with series’ books read out of order is when they don’t stand up well enough on their own. I always feel “cheated” and that makes me not want to get the rest of the series. Allusions to things that happened in the past without a somewhat full description really get my goat, so I probably wouldn’t buy this one without the other. 🙂

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