Started Early, Took my Dog is the last installment in the Jackson Brodie series by Kate Atkinson. It was originally published in 2010 when I first heard of Atkinson and the series, so this book has been in my TBR list for a long time now. Last week I realised it was the last in the series I’m writing my dissertation about and decided to read it. It took me two sittings. The following is a SPOILER-FREE review.
A day like any other for security chief Tracy Waterhouse, until she makes a purchase she hadn’t bargained for. One moment of madness is all it takes for Tracy’s humdrum world to be turned upside down, the tedium of everyday life replaced by fear and danger at every turn.
One of the things that worries me the most is that most of Atkinson’s books do not have a proper description. When I was first recommended to read her books, I did some research and none of them really called my attention. Their descriptions are too dull and simple and have nothing to do with the complex world the reader enters as soon as they start reading. This also happened with Started Early, Took my Dog and also – let’s be sincere – I’m not good at giving closure to things I love. It took me three years to watch the FRIENDS finale! I felt that, if I finished the Jackson Brodie series, I would not have more detective series to read when of course, I do have many others like Kay Scarpetta and Jenny Cooper.
But, regarding the book: typical Atkinson. Fragmented narrations, hyper-connectivity among every character and every little thing they do. But above all, some important social criticism. In Started Early, Took my Dog, Jackson is in York looking for the biological parents of a woman who moved to New Zealand as a child with her adoptive parents. There, he encounters a 1970’s cold case and all the policemen and a policewoman who investigated that case happen to be related to a much more complex plot. Everything is related and of course, everything has consequences.
Another typical Atkinson feature is the constant questioning of right and wrong. The book deals with some very interesting and current issues such as children’s care, adoption, biological vs. adoptive parents etc. Anything you can imagine related to children is laid down for you to question here. So, I wouldn’t recommend this book to people who have very strong views about infancy and biological vs. adoptive parents.
Finally, I really want to think this is not the last book ever to be published in the Jackson Brodie series. I really hope it is not because there is a great difference in quality between the first one – Case Histories– and this one. I do understand Atkinson’s need to write about another issues and definitely her latest book Life After Life is a masterpiece, but I hope she does not forget about Jackson Brodie.