Mark's Reviews > Started Early, Took My Dog

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
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's review
Jan 05, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011

Started 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.'"

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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Cate Isn't Marlee's mother Josie? I thought Nathan was the child with Julia. I'm finding this book a bit confusing - with all the ruminating on girlfriends/wives past.

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