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

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

3.7 111
by Kate Atkinson
 

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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

Overview

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, Tracy soon learns her parental inexperience is actually the least of her problems, as much larger ones loom for her and her young charge.

Meanwhile, Jackson Brodie, the beloved detective of novels such as Case Histories, is embarking on a different sort of rescue-that of an abused dog. Dog in tow, Jackson is about to learn, along with Tracy, that no good deed goes unpunished.

Editorial Reviews

Kevin Allman
…complicated, elegant and completely satisfying…Atkinson's dark wit and mastery at sketching connections—between people, places, times, things, emotions—are reminiscent of Ruth Rendell, and Atkinson shares that grand master's facility in balancing cynicism, compassion and pragmatism. The result is crime fiction that's also splendid modern literature.
—The Washington Post
Janet Maslin
…[Atkinson's] books cannot be simply read. They must also be wrestled with, and that's where much of the fun lies…Ms. Atkinson remains a wonderful stylist and Grade A schemer…
—The New York Times
Alison McCulloch
The Brodie novels are twisting, turning, tangled narratives that leap from decade to decade, character to character, with the secrets playing second fiddle to Atkinson's sad and funny studies in human nature.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
British author Atkinson's magnificently plotted fourth novel featuring Jackson Brodie (after When Will There Be Good News?) takes the "semi-retired" PI back to his Yorkshire hometown to trace the biological parents of Hope McMasters, a woman adopted by a couple in the 1970s at age two. Jackson is faced with more questions than answers when Hope's parents aren't in any database nor is her adoption on record. In the author's signature multilayered style, she shifts between past and present, interweaving the stories of Tracy Waterhouse, a recently retired detective superintendent now in charge of security at a Leeds mall, and aging actress Tilly Squires. On the same day that Jackson and Tilly are in the mall, Tracy makes a snap decision that will have lasting consequences for everyone. Atkinson injects wit even in the bleakest moments—such as Jackson's newfound appreciation for poetry, evoked in the Emily Dickinson–inspired title—yet never loses her razor-sharp edge. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Jackson Brodie returns in Atkinson's fourth novel (Case Histories; One Good Turn; When Will There Be Good News?) featuring the former policeman. Jackson (semiretired at 50) is doing some private detective work and trying to come to grips with his personal life, which includes a teenage daughter from his first marriage, a son with a former lover, and a second wife who stole his savings. Jackson adds a small dog to the mix by rescuing it from its abusive owner as he undertakes an "innocent" request from a woman in Australia: Could Jackson help her find her birth parents in England? In this literary mystery on the theme of missing children, nothing is innocent or simple. The intricate narrative, composed with deftness and humor, moves among scenes set alternately in 1975 and the present and contains a cast of well-drawn characters whose relationships unfold like the layers of a peeled onion. VERDICT This book will not disappoint Atkinson and Jackson Brodie fans, but it might be a stretch for some readers to keep up with the multifaceted plot, though it is well worth the effort. [Five-city author tour; see Prepub Alert, 12/13/10.]—Nancy Fontaine, Dartmouth Coll., Hanover, NH
Kirkus Reviews

British private detective Jackson Brodie, star of three previous Atkinson novels (When Will There Be Good News, 2008, etc.), finds himself embroiled in a case which shows that defining crime is sometimes as difficult as solving it.

Tracy Waterhouse, who is middle-aged, overweight and lonely, heads security for a mall in Leeds. Retired from the local police force, she remains haunted by one of her earliest cases, when she and her partner found a little boy abandoned in the apartment where his mother had been murdered days earlier. Although the murderer was supposedly found (but died before being brought to trial), Tracy never learned what happened to the child with whom she'd formed a quick bond. When Tracy sees a known prostitute/lowlife mistreating her child at the mall, she impulsively offers to buy the child, and the woman takes the money and runs. Tracy knows she has technically broken the law and even suspects the woman might not be the real mother, but her protective instinct and growing love for the little girl named Courtney overrides common sense; she begins arrangements to flee Leeds and start a new life with the child. Meanwhile, Jackson has come to Leeds on his own case. Raised and living in Australia, adoptee Hope McMaster wants information about her birth parents, who supposedly died in a car crash in Leeds 30 years ago. As he pursues the case, Jackson considers his relationships with his own kids—a troublesome teenage daughter from his first marriage and a young son whom DNA tests have recently proved he fathered with a former lover. Jackson's search and Tracy's quest intertwine as Jackson's questions make the Leeds police force increasingly nervous. It becomes clear that the 1975 murder case Tracy worked on is far from solved and has had lasting repercussions.

The sleuthing is less important than Atkinson's fascinating take on the philosophic and emotional dimensions of her characters' lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316122863
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
03/21/2011
Series:
Jackson Brodie Series , #4
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
93,000
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

1975: 9 April
 
 
Leeds: ‘Motorway City of the Seventies’. A proud slogan. No irony intended. Gaslight still flickering on some streets. Life in a northern town.
 
The Bay City Rollers at number one. IRA bombs all over the country. Margaret Thatcher is the new leader of the Conservative Party. At the beginning of the month, in Albuquerque, Bill Gates founds what will become Microsoft.At the end of the month Saigon falls to the North Vietnamese army. The Black and White Minstrel Show is still on television, John Poulson is still in jail. Bye Bye Baby, Baby Goodbye. In the middle of it all, Tracy Waterhouse was only concerned with the hole in one of the toes of her tights. It was growing bigger with every step she took.They were new on this morning as well.
 
They had been told that it was on the fifteenth floor of the flats in Lovell Park and - of course - the lifts were broken. The two PCs huffed and puffed their way up the stairs. By the time they neared the top they were resting at every turn of the stair. WPC Tracy Waterhouse, a big, graceless girl only just off probation, and PC Ken Arkwright, a stout white Yorkshireman with a heart of lard. Climbing Everest.
 
They would both see the beginning of the Ripper’s killing spree but Arkwright would be retired long before the end of it. Donald Neilson, the Black Panther from Bradford, hadn’t been captured yet and Harold Shipman had probably already started killing patients unlucky enough to be under his care in Pontefract General Infirmary.West Yorkshire in 1975, awash with serial killers.
 
Tracy Waterhouse was still wet behind the ears, although she wouldn’t admit to it. Ken Arkwright had seen more than most but remained avuncular and sanguine, a good copper for a green girl to be beneath the wing of. There were bad apples in the barrel – the dark cloud of David Oluwale’s death still cast a long shadow on police in the West Riding, but Arkwright wasn’t under it. He could be violent when necessary, sometimes when not, but he didn’t discriminate on the grounds of colour when it came to reward and punishment. And women were often slappers and scrubbers but he’d helped out a few street girls with fags and cash, and he loved his wife and daughters.
 
Despite pleas from her teachers to stay on and ‘make something of herself ’,Tracy had left school at fifteen to do a shorthand and typing course and went straight into Montague Burton’s offices as a junior, eager to get on with her adult life. ‘You’re a bright girl,’ the man in personnel said, offering her a cigarette. ‘You could go far.You never know, PA to the MD one day.’ She didn’t know what ‘MD’ meant. Wasn’t too sure about ‘PA’ either.The man’s eyes were all over her.
 
Sixteen, never been kissed by a boy, never drunk wine, not even Blue Nun. Never eaten an avocado or seen an aubergine, never been on an aeroplane. It was different in those days.
 
She bought a tweed maxi coat from Etam and a new umbrella. Ready for anything. Or as ready as she would ever be.Two years later she was in the police. Nothing could have prepared her for that. Bye Bye,Baby.
 
Tracy was worried that she might never leave home. She spent her nights in front of the television with her mother while her father drank – modestly – in the local Conservative club.Together,Tracy and her mother, Dorothy, watched The Dick Emery Show or Steptoe and Son or Mike Yarwood doing an impression of Steptoe and his son. Or Edward Heath, his shoulders heaving up and down. Must have been a sad day for Mike Yarwood when Margaret Thatcher took over the leadership. Sad day for everyone. Tracy had never understood the attraction of impressionists.
 
Her stomach rumbled like a train. She’d been on the cottage cheese and grapefruit diet for a week.Wondered if you could starve to death while you were still overweight.
 
‘Jesus H. Christ,’ Arkwright gasped, bending over and resting his hands on his knees when they finally achieved the fifteenth floor. ‘I used to be a rugby wing forward, believe it or not.’
 
‘Ay, well, you’re just an old, fat bloke now,’ Tracy said. ‘What number?’
 
‘Twenty-five. It’s at the end.’
 
A neighbour had phoned in anonymously about a bad smell (‘a right stink’) coming from the flat.
 
‘Dead rats, probably,’Arkwright said.‘Or a cat. Remember those two dogs in that house in Chapeltown? Oh no, before your time, lass.’
 
‘I heard about it. Bloke went off and left them without any food. They ate each other in the end.’
 
‘They didn’t eat each other,’ Arkwright said. ‘One of them ate the other one.’
 
‘You’re a bloody pedant, Arkwright.’
 
‘A what? Cheeky so-and-so. Ey up, here we go. Fuck a duck, Trace, you can smell it from here.’
 
Tracy Waterhouse pressed her thumb on the doorbell and kept it there. Glanced down at her ugly police-issue regulation black laceups and wiggled her toes inside her ugly police-issue regulation black tights. Her big toe had gone right through the hole in the tights now and a ladder was climbing up towards one of her big footballer’s knees. ‘It’ll be some old bloke who’s been lying here for weeks,’ she said. ‘I bloody hate them.’
 
‘I hate train jumpers.’
 
‘Dead kiddies.’
 
‘Yeah. They’re the worst,’ Arkwright agreed. Dead children were trumps, every time.
 
Tracy took her thumb off the doorbell and tried turning the door handle. Locked. ‘Ah, Jesus, Arkwright, it’s humming in there. Something that’s not about to get up and walk away, that’s for sure.’
 
Arkwright banged on the door and shouted,‘Hello, it’s the police here, is anyone in there? Shit,Tracy, can you hear that?’
 
‘Flies?’
 
Ken Arkwright bent down and looked through the letterbox.‘Oh, Christ—’ He recoiled from the letterbox so quickly that Tracy’s first thought was that someone had squirted something into his eyes. It had happened to a sergeant a few weeks ago, a nutter with a Squeezy washing-up bottle full of bleach. It had put everyone off looking through letterboxes. Arkwright, however, immediately squatted down and pushed open the letterbox again and started talking soothingly, the way you would to a nervy dog. ‘It’s OK, it’s OK, everything’s OK now. Is Mummy there? Or your daddy? We’re going to help you. It’s OK.’ He stood and got ready to shoulder the door. Pawed the ground, blew air out of his mouth and said to Tracy, ‘Prepare yourself, lass, it’s not going to be pretty.’


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Kate Atkinson lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, was named Whitbread Book of the Year in the U.K. in 1995, and was followed by Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Not the End of the World, Case Histories, One Good Turn, and When Will There Be Good News?.

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Started Early, Took My Dog 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 108 reviews.
Humbee More than 1 year ago
Kate Atkinson's new book will leave you wanting more, positively! She's a wordsmith with a story that insists that we make moral choices we'd rather ignore. One of her primary protagonists, Tracy, an otherwise "hard-nosed" member of the police force ...handling sexual offences, vice, human trafficking, and just about anything nobody else wanted to... is retired and wondering what to do with her life! Shopping on an afternoon at the local shopping center, she watches as an old druggie she recognizes from her days on the force, Kelly, appears to be dragging a tiny little girl and screaming at her. Tracy is drawn into the fray by instinct and curiousity. She follows Kelly, continuing to observe as she kicks at the child, screams at her to stop singing, dragging her through the crowds and down the street. Since Tracy knows Kelly's other children have already been taken away from her, and that she obviously isn't "clean," she wonders what the freakish woman is doing with this little girl! When all is said and done, Tracy offers Kelly a chunk of money to "buy" the child from her. Kelly's eyes are wide with greed. The transaction is made...the child's hand is transferred to Tracy's, and Kelly rides off into the sunset on the local bus. However, not before she mouths something like, "But she's not....." And Tracy is left wondering what she's done...helped or kidnapped a child! A child who instantly become one she can't bring herself to part with! Thus, begins this novel from the pen of Kate Atkinson. With a menagerie of lush, loveable characters complete with their particular idiosyncracies that only serve to make them more endearing, she has us captured from the get-go. Not only does she give us the quintessential darling, little urchin, but she also includes a scrappy little dog that was rescued from a snarling, abusive hood! Attention given not just to description but also to the quirkiness of inner thoughts and dialog; as well as to bucolic surroundings makes for a great deal of this author's genius. Plus, I wonder how she could have made the tension knot up inside me over that scruffy mutt! Ms Atkinson seasons her novel with wit, perfect timing and a humor that will catch you off-guard when you least expect it. I found myself laughing and smiling often as I read this book. While she is astute and serious about her main and parallel storylines, and there is much to learn here with regard to morality and choices, her subtle, silver-handed delivery with its tinge of the obsurd is unique to her style. It's no wonder that she has won awards for her previous work. Jackson Brodie, the soul searching, former private detective of "Started Early, Took My Dog," is a character featured in others of her books. His odd relationship with his ex-wife throughout the story is so charming. It has the qualilty both to madden and sustain him, making it a sadistic little treasure for the reader to enjoy in and of itself! I need to read more about him, absolutely. Kate Atkinson is a writer of exceptional quality. I highly recommend reading her newest book, "Started Early, Took My Dog." It's an enjoyable read that goes well with a glass of wine, some Respighi (Ancient Dances and Airs Suite 2..) on low, and a comfy chair...sophisticated and easy on the heart. Highly recommended without reservation. Deborah/TheBookishDame
fred5962 More than 1 year ago
I didn't know Kate Atkinson until I watched "Case Histories" on our PBS station. Since then, I've read all of the Jackson Brodie series. This book, "Started Early, Took My Dog", was a little different from the first three. For one thing, Jackson Brodie is not always the main focus. I like the fact that other interesting characters, some repeating from the other books, are filled out in this book. Some are left hanging, as is his propective love interest. Maybe Louise which come out in future books. After watching the "Case Histories" pieces on PBS, which combined stories from the first three books, I was glad not knowing how the story would probably end. [You know how television writers like to change things.] I hope Ms. Atkinson continues with Jackson Brodie. He sounds like someone I would like to know better.
TheReadingWriter More than 1 year ago
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 heavy "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 is bad news for Brodie, as he has a nasty history with trains. The trenchant sense of humor for which Atkinson is known is on display and she describes with clear-eyed compassion and humor our ridiculous, and sometimes hideous, human condition. Motives and choices, the bobs and weaves of persons doing wrong, all have the ring of truth, as do the intentions and interventions of well-meaning, over-worked coppers on the beat. Set in Leeds, the story gives one a distinct sense of cold, cruel, rough, and distrusting. One wonders how anyone gets out of there with their psyche intact. Perhaps they don't, the author seems to say.
Frisbeesage More than 1 year ago
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 unexpectedly picks up a dog, The Ambassador, and still loses women left and right. It seems all he has to do is contact a female for her to disappear. He'll have to get ahold of one of them if he hopes to find any answers, but how? Meanwhile Tracy Waterhouse, a retired police officer, has had all the disappearances she can take. Determined to save one child from its fated course she will literally stop at nothing. I absolutely love the Jackson Brodie series and each book is better than the last. Jackson is his usual fumbling, luckless, but well meaning and loveable self. He is still grappling with the long ago loss of his sister and seems fixated on finding lost women and children, even his fraudulent ex-wife. He manages to keep his dry and very funny sense of humor throughout his trials and I couldn't help but be entertained by the bad spots he gets himself into. As usual, what starts as a tangled ball of story lines neatly unravels to a single strand in the end. Kate Atkinson's writing is so sophisticated and sharp that these mysteries are elevated well above the norm. The characters are so realistic and human that you can't help but relate to them and love them despite their flaws. I only hope I get to read more about Tracy Waterhouse and Courtney in the next Jackson Brodie book. A true literary mystery, Started Early, Took My Dog is for anyone looking for a page turner that will engage your heart and your brain.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Kate Atkinson's books because they mirror real life in such wonderful fashion: the weird, the fantastical, the tragic, the whimsical, all rolled into a beautiful literary package. Started Early, Took My Dog is no exception, and I was immediately captivated by Tracy Waterhouse and her story. Atkinson has such a wonderful eye for the tiniest of details--a child making "starfish hands" as she sings, the annoyed sigh of a very patient dog in a rucksack--that mesh with plot lines that collide in the most improbable (and frequently quite satisfying ways). Definitely an enjoyable read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great dective novel with literary allusions sprinked deftly throughout.
Sandra Scofield More than 1 year ago
I dont know why anyone wd think this series is slow. I find myself reading hurriedly because so much is in question. The author is British so u have to get her wit. I think she is great.
Leslie Spooner More than 1 year ago
... but that is what is fun about this book. You meet these interesting people who initially seem unrelated, and their stories gradually fuse into one in surprising ways. A lot of fun!
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
Started Early, Took My Dog is the fourth book in the Jackson Brodie series by popular British author, Kate Atkinson. Set some two years after When Will There Be Good News, Jackson is wandering around England, looking for his fake wife, Tessa, and researching the real parents of a New Zealand adoptee, Hope McMaster. At the same time, ex-cop Tracy Waterhouse finds herself buying a toddler from a prostitute, while ageing actress Tilly Squires slowly sinks into dementia. As Jackson follows leads to dead ends, he finds a doppelganger is treading the same paths, and stumbles into a thirty-year-old crime. This instalment has a great cast of characters, including crooked cops, retired social workers, prostitutes, actors, children and a dog. Jackson manages to rescue a dog, be followed, beaten up, have his dog bugged, his car stolen and end up hogtied in a rubbish skip. As always, the dialogue is snappy and Atkinson’s strength is her characters’ inner monologues: “Jackson tried to remember why but the tiny people who resentfully ran his memory these days (fetching and carrying folders, checking the contents against index cards, filing them away in boxes that were then placed on endless rows of grey metal Dexion shelving never to be found again) had, in an all too frequent occurrence, mislaid that particular piece of information” and “Ravaged by acne, if you knew Braille you could probably have read his face” and “Schrodinger, whoever he was, and his cat, and anyone else that felt like it, had all climbed inside Pandora’s box and were dining on a can of worms”. There are lots of literary quotes, misquotes, bits of poetry and jokes. The plot, as always, is original and keeps twisting and turning to the very end. While it is not essential to have read the earlier books of this series, this book does contain spoilers for earlier books, so it doesn’t hurt to read them in order. Once again, Atkinson provides a brilliant read and one can only hope there will be more of Jackson Brodie. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm reading my third novel by Kate Atkinson. She has a unique style,keeping the reader guessing as she ties together the seemingly totally unrelated pieces.
Wanda Broadhead More than 1 year ago
Jackson Brodie is now a private detective. He cares very deeply about the people he helps, but he is somewhat naive and easily waylaid by those very people I really enjoy the way Kate Atkinson writes. She has created a sympathetic character in Jackson, flawed though he is, you find yourself rooting for him to be successful not only in the cases he handles, but in his personal life as well...he does better on his cases. A smart, sometimes funny, somtimes sad , but always interesting character and the series about him is worth your time
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've loved all the books in the Jackson Brody series so far but this was unfortunately not as exciting as the first 3. It took awhile to get interested in what was going on and at that point I enjoyed the story but then it ended and it seemed like some questions weren't answered, dont want to spoil for anyone but it had to do with Tracy's storyline. Maybe that was the point, let us decide for ourselves, but in this case I'd have rather known than make it up in my mind.
marie murray More than 1 year ago
Another fun intriguing read from the mistress of interlocking stories. Loved it
Zipcat More than 1 year ago
A good read--contains lots of subtle humor. I've never seen a dog frown before, either.
BlairsMum More than 1 year ago
Kate Atkinson is my favourite author. I am on a journey of reading all her books! This book was a bit convoluted, but if one stays with it, she unwinds all the mystery and makes the connections that tie it all together. Her characters are always interesting and I especially like the use of recurring characters who become very familiar and a delight to read about again...almost like old friends! I read all her books at least twice as they are so interesting and so very well written. I highly recommend it!!!!
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Take off your clothes he orders
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is another Jackson Brodie mystery. This mystery is filled with missing persons, flashbacks to the 1970s in England, and Jackson always thinking about his dead older sister and his ex-wives and his childen. You are still guessing almost to the end how all the mysteries are solved. Reading the last couple of pages won't help.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kate Atkinson is such an original voice. I've read 4 of her mysteries and also Life After Life. Enjoyed them all. The stories meander along but are well tied up by the conclusion. For me, it's the words I enjoy and the characters' side comments. Keep the Jackson novels coming, Kate. I'll keep reading them.
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