Saturday, 14 May 2011

Started Early, Took My Dog

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

This is the latest in the Jackson Brodie series of detective novels by Atkinson. I've read a couple of her earlier novels, including her first two and the first Jackson Brodie book. Bought this while browsing in WHS one day.

It's a complex plot so I'm not sure I can summarise it here. Back in 1975 a small child who'd witnessed a murder went missing - the whole episode was hushed up. WPC Tracy Waterhouse was one of the police who found the mother's body, but despite her efforts she could not find what had happened to the child. Now, Brodie has been asked to find an adopted woman's roots, and he stumbles across the story of the murder and thinks there might be a link. But someone else seems to be following up the same leads as well. Meanwhile, Tracy, now a middle-aged spinster, somehow finds herself abducting a little girl to fill an aching gap in her life. Brodie himself acquires a small dog in an unconventional way - lots of small displaced creatures throughout this novel.

The story twists and turns and ends in a satisfying way.

I found myself struggling to get into this book for the first 100 pages or so, but then it rattled along at a good pace and I enjoyed the second half. I think this was because of Atkinson's stream-of-consciousness style. She starts a scene, then wanders off to tell some backstory, then wanders off that backstory to tell some other backstory and it can be pages later that we get back to the scene. This worked well (if I'm remembering correctly) in her first novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum, because the theme of that book was all in the backstory - what had happened before. But at the start of this book I found it a bit annoying. We needed to know Tracy's character, but did we need to be told how her parents met?

If you're a fan of this author you'll like this book. And I will certainly read more of hers - overall I do like them. One thing I noticed was the complete absence of cliches. Wish I could do that.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you about this book - I enjoyed it but not as much as the other Jackson Brodie novels. This all got a bit confusing (but it might be because I read it over a couple of weeks rather than a couple of days). Who were all these various characters? I had to keep flicking back to try to remember. Also, apart from the dog and Jackson Brodie, I didn't particularly like the other characters. I wanted to like Tracy but I wasn't sure about her and what was the point of Tilly, really? It was all a bit self-indulgent, I felt - yes, too much backstory at times and it often turned into a bit of a 'ramble'. But, having said all that, I still enjoyed it and Kate Atkinson is still one of my favourite writers and yes, she does manage to avoid cliches!!