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Started Early, Took My Dog (Jackson Brodie #4)

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  14,978 ratings  ·  2,044 reviews
Tracy Waterhouse leads a quiet, ordered life as a retired police detective-a life that takes a surprising turn when she encounters Kelly Cross, a habitual offender, dragging a young child through town. Both appear miserable and better off without each other-or so decides Tracy, in a snap decision that surprises herself as much as Kelly. Suddenly burdened with a small child...more
Hardcover, 371 pages
Published March 21st 2011 by Reagan Arthur Books (first published 2010)
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237th out of 275 books — 26 voters


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Community Reviews

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Pattie
Another Kate Atkinson arrived at our library, and lived up to my sky-high expectations.

Here's the thing: if you want everything tied up in a neat package: no. If you want a linear narrative: no. "Easy read": no.

But if you love interesting, complex characters, complex stories and delightful writing: yes. Part-time private-eye and semi-successful womanizer Jackson Brodie, and cranky retired cop Tracy Waterhouse are the centerpieces of this book. Jackson spends the book confused, chasing several...more
Josie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kim

My friend Jemidar and I put off reading this, the fourth of Kate Atkinson’s novels featuring former police officer and former private detective Jackson Brodie, because we heard it ended in a cliffhanger. We don’t like hanging from cliffs and thought we’d wait until the next Jackson Brodie novel was published before putting ourselves in that situation. Turns out that Atkinson is not planning to write any more books in the series in the foreseeable future, so we decided to delay no longer. As it h...more
Amy
I liked this book. I like Kate Atkinson. I like how characters are introduced slowly, and I don't always know instantly whose point of view I'm reading. Sometimes, I recognize connections between characters in the later books and characters or actions happening in current books. And I like how some mysteries are left unsolved at the end of the book.

I am starting to have difficulties with Jackson Brodie. I can believe in improbable things happening....a little bit of chaos theory in action. That'...more
Suzanne
Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosBecause of all the buzz about Kate Atkinson and the great reviews my GR friends gave this book, I decided to give Started Early, Took My Dog a spin. I couldn't decide if the title was a turn on or off. I was pleasantly surprised.
In the beginning, I couldn't tell who the main character was. I'm still not absolutely sure. Everyone talks about Jackson Brodie, so I'll make a safe bet on him, though Tracey is pretty important as well.
I 'm counting four conflicts, though they're all variations on a t...more
Denise
I don't think it's possible for me to love Kate Atkinson books more than I do. I want to go to Edinburgh and hang out with her (and when I said this on Twitter, some inn owner in that lovely,gloomy city said I should stop on by; they have a shelf full of Atkinson books in their cottage!). Anyway, this is Atkinson's fourth Jackson Brodie mystery, and I read this book as I was also watching the PBS Masterpiece Mystery series, Case Histories,in which a very watchable Jason Isaacs brings Brodie to l...more
Anna
Rating: 4.5 stars

This fourth (and possibly final) outing in the Jackson Brodie series is my favourite. Jackson shares his tale with lonely retired Superintendent Tracy, dotty old actress Tilly, an adorable little girl, an equally adorable little dog, and a motley crew of retired coppers who graduated from police school with Gene Hunt, but who shirked the classes that gave Gene his gruff charm. They're all linked by an event that happened in the 1970s, and as Jackson searches for the truth, so th...more
Huw Rhys
I'm sure there was a good detective novel trying to emerge from this morass, somewhere...

But it was hidden between too many unnecessary characters, too many unfinished tales, too many completely pointless streams of consciousness, too many attempts at being a South American "magic" novel of the 1970's/ 1980's, too much cataloguing of "nasty murders that happened up north", and too many ridiculous coincidences - just too much fog and unfinished waffle in general.

Cut it down by 100 pages or so and...more
Patrick Neylan
I’m in a rowdy pub, watching England play Slovenia. It’s crowded, so I have to park myself right under the wall-mounted screen, my book resting on the shelf. Towards the end of the match, with the restless crowd running short of things to shout and despairing of a second goal, a voice starts chanting: “If you love Kate Atkinson, stand up!”

I’m already standing up. So is most of the pub. We all love Kate Atkinson. She is becoming one of Britain’s most popular authors, and with good reason, and wit...more
Shonna Froebel
I love Kate Atkinson's novels. She is such a good writer. Everyone I read amazes me. She has great characters, with interesting complexities. Her plots are interesting and unique. This new novel is no exception.
Jackson Brodie is back again, this time looking for the missing past for a woman. But he isn't the only one searching for something, and there are parties interested in keeping it all buried.
A new and interesting character here is Tracy Waterhouse, retired police detective superintendent...more
Beth
Definitely my least favorite Jackson Brodie novel.

I've seen others rate this book very highly, and to each their own -- but I thought it pretty much sucked. I usually like Atkinson's typical method of having multiple storylines going on at once, and true to form, they did manage to blend together about 3/4 of the way through the book ... but I got extremely irritated with all of the pointless internal dialogue that did nothing to contribute to the story. Having multiple characters is only good i...more
Felice
Kate Atkinson is close to my heart. Her idiosyncratic outlook, her canvas of eccentric, damaged, funny and sad characters are not things I want to be without.

In her mysteries, Atkinson's detective is Jackson Brodie. He comes standard with a chunk of the classic crime solver attributes: a disastrous personal life populated by ex-wives, children he doesn't see enough of and great loss. He is secretly sensitive, intuitive and has a healthy disregard for authority but Brodie has more than enough in...more
Angela
This, the fourth in a series of novels in which Jackson Brodie features, is as entertaining and gripping as the others.

Personally, I enjoy Kate Atkinson’s writing, but this is not a particularly easy read. Amid the intertwining plots and time periods it is easy to lose one’s way - concentration and attention to detail are definitely required of the reader! No bad thing though and the rewards a great. The story is full of interest and humour - lots of murder, mystery and mayhem along the way to...more
Robert
This isn’t like any mystery I’ve ever read before, and I’ve probably read more than my fiscal allotment, devouring PIs of the hard-boiled and amateur variety, cozies, and police procedurals with reckless abandon, the way one might consume Cheez-Its on the living room sofa during an episode of The Office. So, naturally, I thought I had seen it all, and then this son of a gun came along, and I ended up scratching my head trying to fit STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG into a gift-wrapped box with a giant...more
Liz
This was a reread, and one I thoroughly enjoyed. Atkinson tackles the familiar theme of violence against women - in this case against particularly underpriveleged women such as prostitutes. By setting the story in Leeds, with one timeline running just before the Yorkshire Ripper began his reign of terror, Atkinson highlights the differences between the way such victims were viewed thirty years ago and now - and the prejudices that still remain.

At the heart of the story are two innocents: a littl...more
Dan
Adoption should always be like this
More than once I’ve thought Kate Atkinson should have titled her series of four Jackson Brodie books “Crash I, II, III & IV.”

These books – all of them – are about smashups, people or vehicles colliding and incidents past and present piling up on one another.

The action is mostly chaotic, frenetic and always unexpected and characters in each of the books – usually nearer the end – are like atoms smashing into each inside a super-collider. And always there see...more
Laura Lam
Background and Synopsis:

Kate Atkinson is a long-standing favourite author of mine. She writes novels about strange family histories and in recent years branched out and started a mystery series starring Jackson Brodie, yet they are unlike any mystery series you have read before. Emphasis is primarily on the characters, and the plots are strong yet rely a bit too heavily on coincidence. But the characters have a way of getting under your skin. The prequels to this book are Case Histories, One Goo...more
Carl Brush
I’ll say at the outset that Left Early, Took My Dog wins the 2012 WW best title award. It’s early, so I may run across something to match it, but I doubt it. The last notable—Irving’s Last Night in Twisted River —was a great moniker whose book failed to live up to its cover. Not so Left Early.
I do believe I’ve read all of Kate Atkinson’s novels and loved them all. I recently happened on a PBS miniseries based on When Will There Be Good News, which was okay.
But this is my first dose of a printed...more
Lisa
Atkinson is a thinking persons writer, who is also not caught up in using big words to discuss big concepts. This is extremely difficult to pull off, as many authors try to either dumb down their ideas to fit a certain reading genre or they inflate their work with self-importance. Atkinson digs deep into the human psyche and weaves tales upon themselves and over again, and everything in her books is connected. There is a reason for everything she does and everything falls into place, one by one,...more
Mark

I greatly enjoyed this book, and I think, now that I've read my fourth Jackson Brodie novel, that I have finally figured out why I can never quite give Kate Atkinson five stars for these novels, even though I'm drawn to them repeatedly -- but more about that later.

As with her previous entry, "When Will There Be Good News?", this story has Brodie as a primary character, but not necessarily the main character.

In "Started Early", Atkinson shows off a couple of her fortes: Ingeniously weaving toget...more
Trina
These are much better than the average "mystery". Jackson Brodie is a private detective, but he is kind of an anti-hero protagonist and makes fun of his own many failings. The writing is good and the characters are unusual. I've read all 4 Jackson Brodie books -- like Erin I wonder if it's time for Atkinson to turn her hand to another protagonist. Liked it a lot, though.

Newsflash! Just found out from a friend that the title is from an Emily Dickinson poem. Maybe everybody knew but me? here is th...more
Janette Fleming
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Trish
Kate Atkinson outdoes herself in this new novel featuring Jackson Brodie, private detective. He's back in England, doing some desultory checking on the parentage of a woman living overseas who had been orphaned in the 1970s. The story is braided with several threads, i.e., an aging actress suffering from dementia, a young child so heavy as to seem "dense as a small planet," and several other retired police. Atkinson handles it masterfully, bringing it all to a neat knot in a train station. This...more
·Karen·
Maybe I'm overdosing on Kate Atkinson right now. My Mum brought this with her and managed to finish it while she was staying with us, despite her obsession with being helpful. Luckily I had four hand-knitted pieces that have been sitting around waiting to be turned into a pullover, so I could offer her her favourite job of hand-sewing, but apart from that it was sometimes tricky to find tasks for her to do. But she must have sat unoccupied for long enough to get right through this, and of course...more
Denise
Started Early, Took My Dog continues the saga of the perennially unlucky Jackson Brodie. No longer a police officer, no longer really a private detective, Jackson nonetheless roams the countryside looking for lost women. When he lands a rare client she is one of these lost women - her birth certificate comes up a fake, her biological parents don't exist and her adoptive parents are both dead. Who is this woman and why has her history been erased? As Jackson stumbles through his investigation he...more
Pascale
A convoluted detective story with good character development. But beyond that, the thing that lingers on long after finishing one of Kate Atkinson’s books is a feeling of ravished enchantment, the fuzzy memory of something very enjoyable yet imprecise.
I remember I absolutely LOVED Behind the Scenes at the Museum, as well as several of her other books, but can’t or the life of me recall what they were about, just that once I enter into her world, I invariably start to think of Agatha Christie’s...more
Veronica
Another good read from Kate, one of my best so far this year. This lively tale was a particular relief after ploughing through Saramago's difficult Blindness. Atkinson's prose sweeps you along into the story and the characters. Jackson Brodie is here again, but as always he doesn't necessarily take a starring role. I loved the character of Tracy, the lonely ex-cop security chief whose impulse buy kicks off the story. And the dog makes an excellent sidekick for Jackson. Although it deals with mur...more
Maggie James
I quite enjoyed this book, but nowhere near as much as 'Emotionally Weird' and 'Human Croquet'. For one thing, it's less funny; whether that's intentional on the part of Kate Atkinson for her Jackson Brodie series, I'm not sure.

I found the structure of the book odd in places. There's a scene at the beginning, between a character called Steve and an unnamed male, which hangs on its own and is not referred to until much later on in the book, leaving me wondering for ages what it was all about. Al...more
David
I think we can all identify the necessary components for the "construct your own Kate Atkinson doorstopper" kit by now:

* gruesome secrets in somebody's past, to be unraveled as the story proceeds
* abducted child(ren), past or present
* enough bouncing around on the narrative timeline to induce whiplash in the reader
* grisly deaths in the present
* police officers behaving badly
* aforementioned bad behavior presented in a shamelessly manipulative fashion to engage the reader's sympathy
* a minimum...more
Angela
This, the fourth in a series of novels in which Jackson Brodie features, is as entertaining and gripping as the others.

Personally, I enjoy Kate Atkinson’s writing, but this is not a particularly easy read. Amid the intertwining plots and time periods it is easy to lose one’s way - concentration and attention to detail are definitely required of the reader! No bad thing though and the rewards a great. The story is full of interest and humour - lots of murder, mystery and mayhem along the way too....more
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Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and she has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since.

She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories,...more
More about Kate Atkinson...
Life After Life Case Histories (Jackson Brodie, #1) When Will There Be Good News? (Jackson Brodie, #3) Behind the Scenes at the Museum One Good Turn (Jackson Brodie, #2)

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“Fiction had never been Jackson's thing. Facts seemed challenging enough without making stuff up. What he discovered was that the great novels of the world were about three things - death, money and sex. Occasionally a whale.” 16 likes
“This Jackson bloke was the ruddy Scarlet Pimpernel, here, there and everywhere, always one step ahead of Barry. And everywhere he went, women were disappearing.” 4 likes
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