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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 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.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 8, 2010
First Sentence: Leeds: "Motorway City of the Seventies".

Spur of the moment decisions lead to life-altering consequences. A child and a dog link characters in an expected way that leads to injury and death.

Atkinson has created several mysteries within one story in this latest outing, and although Jackson is the continuing thread between the books, he is certainly not the only significant character.

One element I so enjoy about Atkinson's books is that her characters are somewhat abnormal for being no realistically normal. Brodie is an ex-cop, ex-PI with a number of failed or failing relationships. It is nice to learn much more about him and his background here. Tracy is a long way from being the attractive, sexy, young cop so common now. Tilly is an elderly actress with early dementia.

I find it almost impossible to describe this book. The writing is clever but without feeling contrived. Her voice and humor are delightful. There are coincidences, but they are deliberate and play upon the theme. The theme, which comes from the traditional poem "For want of a nail," is brilliantly played out.

I did not find this the easiest book to read due to time and POV changes. It was a bit slow getting into, but it was never boring. I am always fascinated by Atkinson's writing and I love her titles. All I can say is that this is a book which can stand on its own and is very well worth reading.

STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG (PI-Jackson Brodie-England-Cont) - VG
Atkinson, Kate - 4th in series
Doubleday, ©2010, UK Hardcover - ISBN: 9780385608022
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on December 6, 2010
Another stunner from the pen of Kate Atkinson. I have read all her books to date and this one did not disappoint. Once again, you are drawn into the story line from the first page, not without the usual feelings of dread. Kate has you dying and dreading to turn the page all at the same time, you know you will be sad, you know you will cry as you constantly worry for the safety of the characters who now seem like friends you have just made.

My favourite retired copy, Jackson Brodie, is featured again but Kate keeps you on your toes as she moves from the present to the past with little warning, so pay attention! I read it from cover to cover in a few days and now feel somewhat bereft that it is over. I do hope Ms. Atkinson is busy writing another as we speak!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon June 9, 2012
I was looking for a book for my wife a few months ago, as it was her birthday and she likes to read. I plugged in a couple of old chestnuts into a book recommendation site: "If you like..., then you'll like..." I think I entered Zadie Smith's "White Teeth", maybe a Roddy Doyle into the "search" field...and Atkinson's book "Started Early, Took My Dog" is what the algorithm decided she'd like. Not only did my wife enjoy it, I loved it, too.
Thankfully, this novel is a stand-alone tale despite being the fourth of Atkinson's novels featuring a private detective called Jackson Brodie. Brodie, despite (or because of?) a colourful past, now only works seemingly innocuous and straightforward cases, such as tracking down an adopted woman's birth parents (as in this novel) in Leeds. This case, contrary to his expectations, turns out to be neither innocuous nor straightforward. Brodie shares the stage with with two other primary protagonists: Tracy, a lonely, unfulfilled, but resourceful and clever retired police officer who now works as a security supervisor at a shopping mall, and Tilly, an aging, washed-up, kindly, and (not-so-ironically) forgotten actress. Their lives become connected, at first quite superficially and tenuously. As the novel progresses, it's clear their paths were meant to intertwine as a result of an event which occurred decades before, when Tracy was the first officer at the scene of a horrendous crime. The cold case, a murder and disappearance, appears to implicate the top brass of the local police department in a sordid tale of illicit trysts, cover-ups, and fall guys.
Brodie's investigation develops slowly, as he seems to uncover more questions than answers. Tracy, meanwhile, tries to change the past by rescuing (through purchasing) an adorably peculiar toddler from a known drug user who is mistreating the little one in public. Tilly is witness to more than one travesty, and overcomes her ailment (which is ingeniously revealed by Atkinson) to recruit assistance for the victims she wants to save. Malevolent forces are at work who want to stifle Brodie's progress, ensure Tracy's silence, and ignore Tilly altogether.
Abounding with unlikely villains, even less likely heroes, and a brilliantly measured pace, "Started Early, Took My Dog" also had me running a gamut of emotions from mirth and sadness to outright fear and triumph. I'm glad someone out there in cyberspace thought my wife and I would enjoy it--they were dead right.
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on December 2, 2010
A compelling story. Excellent craftwomanship .I prefer my British characters to be middle to upper middle class and yet I found the novel's overweight, undereducated,life scarred lower class types interesting and real if not very attractive. I can't say that I am a great fan of the murder mystery genre where one is seductively lured by pieces of the puzzle slowly eked out to the reader but having said that will admit the puzzles craft held my attention.
About the dog: superbly realized!
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on June 22, 2013
I had to start this book twice to get into it. It was hard going. A lot of different characters that I knew would interact in the end but it was difficult to keep them all straight
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on May 9, 2013
I have read all of Ms. Atkinson's books and regard her as a treasure. She writes very well and never lets an observant reader down. A very real pleasure to read
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on August 23, 2014
An excellent story, well written where caracter development takes the reader's attention...
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on January 20, 2016
'Case Histories", yeah.
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on December 10, 2013
Kate Atkinson: Started Early, Took My Dog.
This book could have been interesting, if it were clear who is who and what is going on. It took me a while before I realized that the authoress is doing it intentionally. Surely, Barry Jackson and Jackson Barry (two different people) could have had different names, not leaving the explanation almost to the very end,(when they finally met) for us to realize that they and their fates are different. The writer has fun at the expense of the readers, because she does not tell us in good time what, in all fairness, we are supposed to know.
This messy book is basically about children Wanted and unwanted, saved and killed, adopted and disposed of, stolen and found.
I had rather unpleasant feeling from the reading. It seems as if there is a veil between the book and its audience. It is probably a sequel of some previous volumes and other readers may be acquainted with the characters. Otherwise, there remains something hidden in this book. If this is the case, of course, it cannot be a detective story. There are rules for detective fiction, even as such types of books have recently became rather sophisticated.
The title is also confusing. Started Early, Took my Dog, is no way to intimate to the readers that they are about to embark on a drastic story, full of blood, cruelty and tears.
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