Started Early, Took My Dog is KateAtkinson's fourth book featuring semi-retired detective Jackson Brody. In 1975, PCs Ken Arkwright and Tracey Waterho...moreStarted Early, Took My Dog is KateAtkinson's fourth book featuring semi-retired detective Jackson Brody. In 1975, PCs Ken Arkwright and Tracey Waterhouse discover the several days dead body of a prostitute, Carole Braithwaite, and her young child. Current time: Waterhouse, now over 50, recently retired, and working as chief of security for a mall--lonely--impulsively buys a child from a junkie.
As the book opens, Jackson is working as an investigator for Hope McMaster--searching for her birth parents. She was told that she was born Sharon Costello. Her parents, John and Angela were killed in an auto accident when she was two. Hope was adopted by Dr. Ian Winfield and his wife Kitty, a former model. They then moved to New Zealand. Unfortunately, there was no record of a John and Angela Costello killed in a car crash. No record Sharon Costello's birth.
The mystery is whether and, if so, how these two stories will weave together. My pleasure in reading this book--and mysteries generally--is meeting new people, and places and listening in as they grapple with their world. Jackson Brodie is a delightful guide into the world Atkinson creates.
Among the many pleasures of reading Atkinson are her pithy comments on that world. Brody, who has recently turned 50, and thinks, "He had his phone and his car and his music, what more did a man need?" Well, a dog named "The Ambassador," that he rescues from a sadist. As the title suggests, the dog is along for the ride.
Thinking about his adolescent daughter Marlee, born out of wedlock, and her mother Julia, Jackson recognizes that he and Julia were united through their child. "He would never be free of her . . . ."
Visiting abbeys in Yorkshire, Jackson "missed God. But then who didn't? . . . . God slipped out of the building a long time ago and he wasn't coming back, but, like any good architect, he had left his work behind as his legacy." Jackson, who came to the arts later in life, is interested in Emily Dickinson's poetry. "But poetry had wormed its way in, uninvited. A Toad, can die of Light! crazy." Always one to philosophize, Jackson's "definition of 'elderly' had changed as he himself had moved nearer to the event horizon of death."
Jackson's clients want to find out the "truth," but in his "experience, finding the truth--whatever it was--only deepened the mystery of what had really happened in the past."
But Jackson continues his investigation and brings it to a satisfying conclusion.
Along the way, he continues with his insightful comments about the journey. I'll conclude with just one more that I can't resist: "'We share 85% of our DNA with dogs,' the barber said. 'Well, we share 50% with bananas, so I don't think that means anything.'" (less)
Agatha is becoming more reflective, happier with herself. But her volatile, impulsive engagement with life still propels the story. Agatha's misadvent...moreAgatha is becoming more reflective, happier with herself. But her volatile, impulsive engagement with life still propels the story. Agatha's misadventures in love continue, with her friend Sir Charles Fratih center stage. The mystery is a bit far-fetched. (less)
First Aimee Leduc novel I've read. Not really my cup of tea. Leduc's father was a flic who died under suspicious circumstances. Her mother had left lo...moreFirst Aimee Leduc novel I've read. Not really my cup of tea. Leduc's father was a flic who died under suspicious circumstances. Her mother had left long before. Police commissioner Morbier is Aimeé's godfather. The plot hinges on people in the police wanting to pin the murder of his lover on him, possibly because of an investigation he is conducting. I found the revelation of the real killer to be basically unbelievable. (less)
Chemerinsky argues "there is no such thing as a neutral method of interpreting the Constitution. All justices . . . have to make value choices about t...moreChemerinsky argues "there is no such thing as a neutral method of interpreting the Constitution. All justices . . . have to make value choices about the meaning of the Constitution and how it applies to particular cases." (less)
When Kugel became very ill, the background music/buzz of daily living suddenly stopped, and he experienced a sense of smallness. Kugel hypothesizes th...moreWhen Kugel became very ill, the background music/buzz of daily living suddenly stopped, and he experienced a sense of smallness. Kugel hypothesizes that ancient people understood "their own being was essentially small, dwarfed by all that was outside them . . . ." Modern theologians may say: "Man is very big, and God is very far away." "For centuries we were small, dwarfed by gods and ancestors and a throbbing world of animate and inanimate beings all around us, each with its personal claim to existence no less valid than our own . . . . [O]ur brains are still designed for this old way of seeing ourselves." Kugel thinks that "the sense of smallness and discreteness, of fitting into a much larger world . . . made religious perception possible . . . ."
When Kugel was facing death, his "world was much more basic, down to fundamental: holding on, the utter reality of it . . . . Ideas about God seemed a funny luxury. . . . [He was] trying to live among the great elements of the present, wife and children, afternoon suns, the starkness of the late-autumn afternoon sun."
The book vividly describes Kugel's brush with death and his experience of an ancient, palpable sense of connection to the vast whole of God's creation. (less)
Deresiewicz says that as a graduate student he "viewed Jane Austen as a 19th century author "who wrote those silly romantic fairy tales." This book de...moreDeresiewicz says that as a graduate student he "viewed Jane Austen as a 19th century author "who wrote those silly romantic fairy tales." This book describes how his romantic misadventures and dawning recognition of the feelings of others led him to value Austen's understanding "that what fills our days should fill our hearts, and what fills our hearts should fill our novels."
Deeresiewicz says that "when [Austen] created her fiction of ordinary life . . . [i]t was a revolutionary artistic choice, a courageous defiance of convention and expectation: exactly why so many of her early readers had trouble appreciating what she had done, and why her fame took so long to establish itself."
The book contains Deresiewicz's persuasive readings of each of Austen's classic novels.(less)