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Author Atkinson Scores Again
on January 14, 2011
Kate Atkinson is a British writer who, like P.D. James and Ruth Rendell, specializes in the type of mystery novel where the characters' inner feelings and motivations are really more important than the story. "Started Early, Took My Dog" is her fourth novel featuring private detective Jackson Brodie; in this outing, he is traveling around Great Britain in a leisurely fashion, making inquiries on behalf of a woman who has hired him to discover what he can about her history, as she was adopted as a baby by a couple who then moved post-haste to New Zealand. In the course of his travels, he helps an elderly actress who is losing her memory and who is being accused of shoplifting, and he acquires a dog that he witnesses being mistreated in a park. He also stumbles upon a 35-year-old unsolved murder that might in some way be associated with the adopted woman, and he hopes that a retired cop, a woman now working in security at a mall, might shed some light on the matter. If he can find her, that is....This is a very intricate tale, with a much larger cast of characters that I've outlined here, all of whom are intertwined in various surprising ways and all of whom have histories and problems of their own; it's amazing how well Atkinson is able to juggle half a dozen separate stories, throwing each into the air in complex patterns and keeping all of them going, without dropping one. Very intense, and very, very good. Highly recommended.