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Started Early, Took My Dog (2010)

by Kate Atkinson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Jackson Brodie (4)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,6691733,773 (3.81)306
Tracy Waterhouse, a retired police detective leading a quiet life, makes a snap decision to relieve habitual offender Kelly Cross of a young child he's been dragging around town. 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, detective Jackson Brodie embarks on a different sort of rescue--that of an abused dog.… (more)
  1. 10
    What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn (Anonymous user)
  2. 10
    When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson (KayCliff)
  3. 00
    The Tree of Hands by Ruth Rendell (Imprinted)
    Imprinted: There are some strikingly similar themes involving children and parental love between these two terrific novels.

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» See also 306 mentions

English (166)  French (4)  Dutch (2)  All languages (172)
Showing 1-5 of 166 (next | show all)
Kate Atkinson's novels just delight me. I get great pleasure reading them. There are books that I like but these I love.

As in the others, this novel features a range of characters, some central and some peripheral. Jackson Brodie is again featured, former detective now supposedly retired. He falls for one more case: to find out who gave birth to a woman, Hope McMaster, a woman who now lives in New Zealand but who was born in England. Jackson figures it shouldn't be that hard, considering he's already traveling. Wandering, really, not settling anywhere. Might as well look into the case while he's on the road.

Another major character is Tracy Waterhouse, former police detective, present head of security for a retail store. Tracy is an amply-built woman who has made her job her life, for the most part. She is not married, has no children. When she spots a familiar woman on the street, pulling a small child, she can guess what will happen to that child when she gets home. She confronts the woman, a drug addict Tracy had arrested when she was with the police. On the spur of the moment she does something highly unusual and unexpected, which changes the course of her life.

When Jackson starts to hunt down birth and adoption records he runs into a blank wall. The presumed birth parents do not appear to exist. So who really did give birth to Hope?

There are other minor characters whose lives are intertwined with these and whose actions surprise and delight at times. It's like a full, satisfying meal that left me feeling just right. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
If there was a way of giving this book more than five stars, I would. It is breath-takingly good fiction.

It works as a satisfying crime novel and as a mainstream examination both of how we live with the consequences of the choices that we make and the mores and attitudes of Britain now and in 1975.

The prose is beautiful. The voice of each character is distinct and believable. Time and place are evoked with an almost clinical clarity. The interior monologues, particularly that of "Silly Tilly" who is slipping into dementia are intimate, accurate and yet easy to read. The shifts along the timeline and between characters' point of view are well crafted so that the reader's understanding of the story and characters of the people evolves into something richly textured and authentic.

Despite the gritty nature of some of the themes and the gruesome start to the chain of events that the novel unravels, this remains an optimistic book that can make you laugh as easily as it can make you cry.

Perhaps it's because this book describes my own generation but I felt deep empathy with the newly-retired police woman, coming to terms with the gap between what she wants and where her choices have taken her. Tilly's tale also stays in memory, not just because of the skilful way in which dementia is evoked but because of the betrayals and disappointments that she has endured. "The Kid" Coutrney/Lucy slices her way into the reader's heart with thumbs-ups and star hand waves and tiny trove of perosanl treasures that she lays out like an act of prayer.

The book is full of people who make the wrong decision or trust the wrong person and pay the price. It is a sign of Kate Atkinson's skill that we come to understand and empathise with these people rather than judging them

The back of the book tells me that this is the fourth book featuring Jackson Brodie. but my lack of knowledge of the previous books didn't mar my enjoyment of this one. Jackson is a curious character, a lightning-rod for stange events that he reacts to with remarkable passivity. A man who would like insight into himself but can only find it in the words of his ex-wife. A man who is surprised to find that the company of a dog is good for the soul

This was my first Kate Akinson book, but it certainly won't be my last ( )
  MikeFinnFiction | May 16, 2020 |
I'm on a Kate Atkinson spree! In the fourth Jackson Brodie novel he is no longer a PI (?!), but working on a case anyway of an adopted adult looking for information on her birth parents. The theme is murdered prostitutes, lost and stolen children. By the end some mysteries are solved, some are not. In any case, Jackson picks up a dog along the way, and is still on the hunt for his ex-fake wife, Tessa, and still yearning for Louise. Interested to see what happens in the 10 years that have passed since this novel and the 5th that has just come out. ( )
  Marse | Feb 29, 2020 |
So this is a fine satisfying detective story, including the usual invulnerable protagonist who can be beaten unconscious and stuffed in a dumpster, but needs only a hot shower to recover with no visible effects remarked on by other characters. But it works especially well as an ebook, where you can do a Search for clues mentioned earlier. Also there's a delightful border terrier. ( )
  adzebill | Feb 5, 2020 |
I love Atkinson's writing. Her prose is filled with classical and literary allusions. The poetry that pervades this one has inspired me to read more Wordsworth and Dickinson. Her intricate and fascinating plots keep you guessing until the end. ( )
  francesanngray | Jan 1, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 166 (next | show all)
“Started Early, Took My Dog” — with a wonderful title from Emily Dickinson, summoning a poem that is as artfully enshrouded as this novel — is... jampacked with echoes, parallels, doppelgängers, sneaky omissions and authorial attempts to mislead. For Ms. Atkinson this is business as usual and often a source of final-act revelatory glee. But it doesn’t coalesce as neatly as this series’s earlier installments have.
Kate Atkinson began as a prize-winning literary novelist with Behind the Scenes at the Museum and has, like Michael Dibdin and Ian Rankin before, reinvented herself by using the tropes of detective fiction. She's just as serious and formally interesting as ever, only her novels featuring the ex-policeman Jackson Brodie involve unravelling a couple of murders. With their startling first chapters, appealing cast of familiar characters and meticulous observation of contemporary reality they read like Elizabeth George crossed with Elizabeth Bowen.

The fourth, Started Early, Took My Dog is about child abduction, and people who fall through the cracks of modern Britain unless somebody bothers to help. The narrative switches between the 1970s and today with dizzying, at times perplexing, skill. Tracy, its hefty heroine is, like Brodie, ex-police. As a young copper she found a starving, half-frozen child in a flat with his murdered mother. Tracy persists in asking questions, and the child disappears.

Atkinson's detective novels capture the strangeness of modern times, and our supposedly atomised lives, with spiky wit, emotional intelligence and consummate cleverness. All her novels are about the choices that we make and the things we leave behind; about parenthood and the anguish that vulnerability brings. Above all, they scrutinise an England too few literary novelists seem to notice, or care about.
added by VivienneR | editThe Independent, Amanda Craig (Sep 3, 2010)
So much of the narrative is retrospective or interior that there's not much urgency to unfolding events, however highly coloured. And there's a rhetorical whimsy reminiscent of some of Atkinson's earlier books, a devil-may-care gesturing at the novel's own fictionality, which can leave the characters threatening to float free of our trust in them. But we follow their digressive, meandering voices avidly as they circle around their own particular loves and losses, all knitted together with Atkinson's extraordinary combination of wit, plain-speaking, tenderness and control. She's an old hand at paradox now: "All roads lead home," says Julia. "All roads lead away from home," Jackson replies.

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kate Atkinsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bell, NicholasNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
'I was just cleaning up the place a bit.'
Peter Sutcliffe
For my father
First words
Leeds: 'Motorway City of the Seventies'. A proud slogan.
"Hoop' is een ding met veren -
dat neerstrijkt in de ziel -
een melodie zingt zonder tekst -
en nooit stopt - met zijn lied -

het zoetste klinkt - in wilde Vlaag -
De storm moet bitter zijn -
Als hij het Vogeltje beschaamt
dat velen heeft verblijd -

Ik hoorde hem in het kilste land -
En op de vreemdste Zee -
Toch vroeg het - nooit - in Extremis,
een kruimeltje - van Mij.

Emily Dickinson, vertaling van Louise van Santen.
You can't change the past, only the future, and the only place you could change the future was in the present.
Josie, his first wife, had once said to him that if ran far enough he would end up back where he started but Jackson didn't think that the place he had started from existed anymore.
Title from the Emily Dickinson poem (656):

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

And Frigates – in the Upper Floor
Extended Hempen Hands –
Presuming Me to be a Mouse –
Aground – opon the Sands –

But no Man moved Me – till the Tide
Went past my simple Shoe –
And past my Apron – and my Belt
And past my Boddice – too –

And made as He would eat me up –
As wholly as a Dew
Opon a Dandelion's Sleeve –
And then – I started – too –

And He – He followed – close behind –
I felt His Silver Heel
Opon my Ancle – Then My Shoes
Would overflow with Pearl –

Until We met the Solid Town –
No One He seemed to know –
And bowing – with a Mighty look –
At me – The Sea withdrew –
Last words
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Publisher's editors
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Tracy Waterhouse, a retired police detective leading a quiet life, makes a snap decision to relieve habitual offender Kelly Cross of a young child he's been dragging around town. 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, detective Jackson Brodie embarks on a different sort of rescue--that of an abused dog.

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Book description
A day like any other for security chief Tracy Waterhouse, until she makes a shocking impulse purchase. That one moment of madness is all it takes for Tracy's humdrum world to be turned upside down, the tedium of everyday life replaced by fear and danger at every turn.

Witnesses to Tracy's outrageous exchange in the Merrion Centre in Leeds are Tilly, an elderly actress teetering on the brink of her own disaster, and Jackson Brodie who has returned to his home county in search of someone else's roots. All three characters learn that the past is never history and that no good deed goes unpunished.

Kate Atkinson dovetails and counterpoints her plots with Dickensian brilliance in a tale peopled with unlikely heroes and villains. Started Early, Took My Dog is freighted with wit, wisdom and a fierce moral intelligence. It confirms Kate Atkinson's position as one of the great writers of our time.
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