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

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

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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316066747
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 10/06/2011
Series: Jackson Brodie Series , #4
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 28,368
Product dimensions: 5.46(w) x 8.34(h) x 1.08(d)

About 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. 148 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.
Anonymous 16 hours ago
Very confusing plot-wise and stylistically. Need a phone directory to follow the multitude of characters. It all sounds rather improbable. Atkinson does not help by using unclear pronouns before using the name of the person several paragraphs later. In one case one person says "Hi!" to someone and the person does not answer for several intervening pages of historical content. The dog saves the day to some extent, but...
MikeFinn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If there was a way of giving this book more than five stars, I would. It is breathtakingly good fiction.It works as a satisfying crime novel and as a mainstream examination both of how we live with the consequences of the choices that we make and the mores and attitudes of Britain now and in 1975.The prose is beautiful. The voice of each character is distinct and believable. Time and place are evoked with an almost clinical clarity. The interior monologues, particularly that of "Silly Tilly" who is slipping into dementia are intimate, accurate and yet easy to read. The shifts along the timeline and between characters' point of view are well crafted so that the reader's understanding of the story and characters of the people evolves into something richly textured and authentic.Despite the gritty nature of some of the themes and the gruesome start to the chain of events that the novel unravels, this remains an optimistic book that can make you laugh as easily as it can make you cry.Perhaps it's because this book describes my own generation but I felt deep empathy with the newly retired police woman, coming to terms with the gap between what she wants and where her choices have taken her. Tilly's tale also stays in memory, not just because of the skilful way in which dementia is evoked but because of the betrayals and disappointments that she has endured. "The Kid" Coutrney/Lucy slices her way into the reader's heart with thumbs-ups and star hand waves and tiny trove of personal treasures that she lays out like an act of prayer.The book is full of people who make the wrong decision or trust the wrong person and pay the price. It is a sign of Kate Atkinson's skill that we come to understand and empathise with these people rather than judging themThe back of the book tells me that this is the fourth book featuring Jackson Brodie. but my lack of knowledge of the previous books didn't mar my enjoyment of this one. Jackson is a curious character, a lightning-rod for strange events that he reacts to with remarkable passivity. A man who would like insight into himself but can only find it in the words of his ex-wife. A man who is surprised to find that the company of a dog is good for the soul.This was my first Kate Akinson book, but it certainly won't be my last.
hep on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading this book. As usual Kate Atkinson gives us complex characters, unexpected plot twists and social commentary.
Tid on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jackson Brodie has left Scotland, and returned to his native Yorkshire. Or rather, his unwilling search for the real roots of a New Zealand woman who was adopted as a child (and who hasn't accepted Jackson's 'retirement'), plus his haphazard attempt to trace his faithless and conning ex-wife Tessa, have brought him back there - to its towns, its glorious countryside, its ruined abbeys ... and its murky recent past. Walking through a park, he witnesses casual acts of cruelty towards a dog, leading him kidnap it with menaces towards its lager lout of an owner. For the remainder of the novel, Jackson is saddled with the "dog" of the title.Tracy Waterhouse, retired cop, single woman, and now unfulfilled security chief of a modern shopping centre, performs a rescue act even more daring, and even more out of character. These two events are simply the prelude to a chain of cause and effect that slowly unravels a 35-year-old murder mystery, uncovers some incidents that the Leeds police (or some at least), would prefer stay buried, and leads to the discovery of the true identity of various children that lie at the heart of the mystery.This is a superbly plotted, inimitably told tale - the latest in the short but welcome series featuring Kate Atkinson's rather luckless and accident-prone detective Jackson Brodie. It would spoil the intricately woven plot to reveal any more about the nature of the events at the heart of this book, but it is (sadly we understand) a worthy sign-off (but only for now?) of this most engaging of characters.It is a story of secrets that lie buried for too long, of the search for identity, of the use and abuse of 'women of the street', and the sturdy resilience of children in the face of brutally overwhelming odds. It dances around the terrible murders committed by the man known forever as the Yorkshire Ripper, and convincingly summons up the shape of urban and suburban life in the mid-1970s.As we have come to expect from Kate Atkinson, the narrative is vivid and engaging, the characters beautifully drawn, and the dialogue never less than natural. Her love of language, so eloquently displayed in her first three novels and short stories, is tempered a little in the Brodie books, but it is still there, and this is a very satisfying read. And not every last loose end is tied up - there is a hint that something is left open (not, I trust, a vain hope?) to pursue in a subsequent tale.
booktwitcher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fast paced page turner. Loved it with the less than perfect but somehow lovable, Jackson Brodie as the returning hero. Again, as with all of the Brodie novels, thee are always two or more stories running together.
AriadneAranea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really excellent - the fourth novel featuring Jackson Brodie, and the best of them. It's complex, literate, grand and surprising, as Jackson unpicks the threads of a decades-old cover-up while another ex-police officer, Tracy Waterhouse, makes off with an illicit mystery child and wonders whether and how she can possibly get away with it. Just brilliant.
dsc73277 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In my view this is the best so far in Atkinson's series featuring ex-soldier, ex-cop, and ex-husband (twice) Jackson Brodie. It is the one that has the most to say about what I describe as "the way we live now", living in a bankrupt country (not strictly true, yet) that seems, in common with much of the world, to have lost its way. Brodie has himself been stumbling around for years, never staying anywhere long, and never able to fully come to terms with his sister's murder when they were both teenagers. In this installment he returns to his native Yorkshire tyring to trace the family of a women emigrated to New Zealand as a child in the care of her adopted parents. In doing so, he opens quite a Pandora's box with significant consequences for a number of West Yorkshire police officers, a retired officer now working in shopping mall security, and an ageing actress with a failing mind and career. Leeds is as central to this novel as Edinburgh is to the Rebus books, although whereas Ian Rankin seems to do no harm to most outsiders prevailing image of Edinburgh as one of Britain's most "liveable" cities, one cannot help but feel that this book only serves to reinforce negative ideas of Yorkshire's administrative centre, both now and in the 1970s.
Greatrakes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is the opposite of the last book in the Jackson Brodie series, When Will There Be Good News was all width, this one is all length. There are a few flashbacks to the 1970s, but generally it's a road movie, a made for TV book.It also has too much Jackson Brodie in it, I like him as a hapless foil for other characters, but he is too much of a cartoon character in large doses. He is a sort of fantasy character, a Mills and Boon hero as redesigned for women who like their men to be bright but not too bright, macho but sensitive, and beaten unconscious at least twice in every novel.So anyway, prostitutes are murdered in the past and present, children are kidnapped past and present and an actress with dementia fell under a train.
phoebesmum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another outing for Jackson Brodie (and, indeed, his new-found dog), with the usual interweaving of numerous plots, some resolved satisfactorily, some not so much. Casts a very dim, though possibly not undeserved, light on ¿70s police methods. The dog survives, at least for this book; I wouldn¿t bet on its chances in further volumes.
baystateRA on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Be sure to read the other Jackson Brodie books before this one; there are frequent references to events in the earlier books. I didn't like this one as much as I have the others, though. Maybe because the love interest is offstage for the whole book. Maybe without that element, the characters seemed too adrift from each other and less engaging to the reader (i.e. me).
ShellyS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jackson Bodie is often a poor excuse for a detective. He can be so dense sometimes. And he's often his own worst enemy. But he's honest, has a good heart, good instincts, is a decent guy, has a habit of hooking up with women who are wrong for him, and ends up always doing the right thing. He also has baggage. A lot of baggage. His sister was murdered when he was a boy and he's never gotten over it, especially because her killer was never found. Both his parents are dead, his older brother killed himself. He's got a teen daughter, an ex-wife, an ex-lover and a son by the ex-lover, and a fake wife who emptied his bank account. Then there's the near-death experience in a train wreck in a previous book, and it's understandable that Jackson has issues. In this tale, he's looking for the true identity of a woman who was adopted as when she was a toddler. Concurrently, a retired policewoman, Tracy Waterhouse, buys a little girl from a prostitute, an event that propels the action of much of the story. As the story progresses, a series of events, small and large and amazingly coincidental, knit together to form a whole that is riveting and emotional. How Jackson's investigation ties into a 30-year old murder of a prostitute that Tracy and her partner discovered forms the backbone of the plot. Add in an aging actress sinking into dementia, a dog Jackson rescues from his abusive owner, and a mysterious man in a gray car, and you've got a typical Atkinson novel, one with stories that reach into the past and lead back to an explosive climax when all the scattered elements come together.The mystery isn't the point, exactly. I figured out most of it, even if I didn't nail the actual killer. This is more than a mystery. It's a novel with a mystery driving it. It's more the story of lost and found children, abuse and survival. And it makes for addicting reading.