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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, sharp, clever. funny
If you come to this cold, without having read the Jackson Brodie books before you may not like this as much as I did. One of the major criticisms laid against the author is that she includes too many coincidences. This is a bit like dismissing the many popular fantasy and magic books because there is no such thing as magic. The author incorporates these coincidences...
Published on 25 Aug. 2010 by smartesthorse

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Started early, took a while to finish...
I'm a huge Kate Atkinson fan, so I was excited to read the latest in the Jackson Brodie novels. I'm sad to say, I fell a bit out of love with him in this book. I didn't feel like I really connected with any of the characters, even Jackson's "voice" didn't hook me in as usual, and the split timeline felt confusing to me. The most intriguing story was Tracey's, and I felt...
Published on 19 Oct. 2010 by Cat


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, sharp, clever. funny, 25 Aug. 2010
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This review is from: Started Early, Took My Dog (Jackson Brodie) (Hardcover)
If you come to this cold, without having read the Jackson Brodie books before you may not like this as much as I did. One of the major criticisms laid against the author is that she includes too many coincidences. This is a bit like dismissing the many popular fantasy and magic books because there is no such thing as magic. The author incorporates these coincidences deliberately, its part of her unique world and scheme of things, accept this and you have a wonderful read. After all, we are all subject to continual quirks of a fate, if we hadn't taken time out to double check the front door we might have hit that lorry on the wrong side, chosen another cafe and we wouldn't have met the man of our dreams.
Jackson himself I find adorable, he's hard, he fights 'em all off and he's as soft as butter round kids. I did find there was perhaps a surfeit of other characters and bit players in this book and like other readers I couldn't quite see the point of the ageing actress Tilly though it did bring in an amusing side line tale of a soap opera.

The writing is often very funny, I like the bit when she describes a hideous mauve leather sofa as 'an undignified end for a cow' Its wry and dry and it's a bit love it or hate it, I have friends who find this author a real pain in the butt. If you are new to Jackson I would really recommend you buy or borrow the earlier books first, otherwise you will find yourself asking 'Who is Louise? Who is Josie?" If you are a seasoned reader of these books I would say its not the best perhaps but it is still sharp and acute and very very readable..the last of which is surely what we want from a book.
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191 of 199 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atkinson on sparkling form, 29 Jun. 2010
By 
Sukie (South Coast) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Started Early, Took My Dog (Jackson Brodie) (Hardcover)
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Kate Atkinson returns on top form with her fourth crime novel featuring Jackson Brodie, her slighly world-weary, laconic and oh-so-human private eye. This time he's in Yorkshire, trying to trace the family of Hope McMaster, whose roots don't seem to exist. Also in the mix is Tracy Waterhouse, cop-turned-security-guard, who is haunted by one particular murder from the 1970s; Tilly, an elderly actress who is struggling through befuddlement to play her role in a drama series; and DS Barry Crawford, just two weeks from retirement, a keeper of secrets who is weighed down with grief and anger. There is also a dog called The Ambassador.

While Jackson begins to uncover more about the mysterious Hope, Tracy makes a reckless purchase which throws her career and whole future into jeopardy. As ever, Atkinson controls the action perfectly, slipping from one plot-thread into another and weaving the strands tighter and tighter together until all are connected. Family ties, lost and found children, prostitutes, murders and a coincidence or two, this novel is tautly plotted and full of surprises.

I am a huge fan of Kate Atkinson's books. Her characters are perfectly and wittily described, the writing is punchy, humorous and tight, and the momentum builds and builds throughout to a satisfying ending. The dialogue is always spot-on and realistic, and I think she captures relationships brilliantly - particularly Jackson's relationships with his ex, Julia, his daughter, Marlee, and the eponymous dog in this novel, as well as the dynamic between Tracy and Barry. This is sure to be another massive hit for Atkinson, and well deserved. I'm already looking forward to the next one!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wish it was 5 star...but I agree with too many 1 and 2 star reviews., 5 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Started Early, Took My Dog (Jackson Brodie) (Hardcover)
I have been looking forward to tackling my paperback copy of the latest Jackson tale. I even considered buying it in hardback (a rarity for me) but I'm glad I didn't stretch to that extravagance. I've never really understood anyone who gives Atkinson less than 3 stars - but I find myself agreeing with a lot of their comments this time. I am also beginning to feel that there is a tiny, tiny bit of a 'forumla' appearing with these Jackson books. The disparate characters and jumbled plot-lines worked well in 'Case Histories'; exceptionally well in 'One Good Turn'; very well in 'When Will' but seemed far too forced in 'Started Early'. I felt that Jackson didn't really connect with any of the characters, the plot or his Yorkshire homeland - and so I felt that I wasn't connecting with Jackson either. The story was good enough but I feel it was just not really finsihed off to the same high standard of her previous. There seemed a lot of hype around this novel and I wonder if Atkinson's heart wasnt really in it this time.
I loved Tracy and if she had been absent I'd have really struggled with 'Started Early'. However, Tilly was a side-line too far and too oblique to the rest of the action (the ending on the railway lines? Really?). In my opinion it could have done with a bit more on Linda instead (never mind Lomax et al!). Still, I read it in super quick time and feel that it does add to the Jackson stable more than it detracts. But it's a long way off being Atkinson's best.
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111 of 120 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well crafted character piece, wrapped in a mystery..., 14 July 2010
By 
Christopher Meadows (York, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Started Early, Took My Dog (Jackson Brodie) (Hardcover)
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This book is really three different character pieces woven into one story; the narrative switches between private investigator Jackson Brodie, security manager Tracy, and weathered, partially senile actress Tilly. It also leaps between the 1970's and the present day. This can be a bit confusing initially, but makes the narrative flow between temporal breaks appear seamless once you get used to it.

Each character has their own unique internal voice and dialogue, all compellingly written and well realised. The spoken dialogue is equally well written, clever, well paced, and feels `real', rather than crafted. Tracy and Tilly, in particular, come off as regular, every day people, dealing with (sometimes) extra-ordinary events. Their reactions, actions and motivations seem to gel together well, and there isn't much in these two characters to disbelieve.

Jackson Brodie, who I believe is a recurring character in other novels by the same author, has a slightly less believable back story (musingly admitted by the character himself), but manages to be both sympathetic and amusing to read. The ancillary characters also have their own well-detailed motivations, and made watching the `mains' interact with them aq pleasure.

The central mysteries of the plot centre around a crime committed in the 1970's, which is linked to an investigation in the here-and-now. I won't discuss the details, but will say that it all hangs together very nicely. The pacing kept me turning pages, looking for the next clue to the larger mystery, and the final outcome was both intriguing and satisfying.

A good story, excellent characters, and a clever mystery - a good read.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Started early, took a while to finish..., 19 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Started Early, Took My Dog (Jackson Brodie) (Hardcover)
I'm a huge Kate Atkinson fan, so I was excited to read the latest in the Jackson Brodie novels. I'm sad to say, I fell a bit out of love with him in this book. I didn't feel like I really connected with any of the characters, even Jackson's "voice" didn't hook me in as usual, and the split timeline felt confusing to me. The most intriguing story was Tracey's, and I felt really cheated by the end - what on earth happened?! I went back and re-read One Good Turn and When Will There be Good News? after I finished this, and read both of them in a couple of nights, whereas I dipped in and out of this over the course of a few weeks. I found it a disappointing and frustrating read in comparison with Atkinson's other novels, and hope the next episode - assuming there is one - is back on track.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Started Early, Kept on Reading, Didn't Like the Ending, 7 Mar. 2011
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I bought this book, never having heard of Kate Atkinson, when the cheery assistant in Waterstones said I could get it for half price with the other book I was buying. I normally don't bother with these special offers, but he was a nice guy and said it was a great read.

The book begins excitingly enough with a murder in Leeds in 1975, and then quickly moves to the present day. The novel from then on switches between the past and the present - as we find more out about what happened in 1975, we start to solve the mysteries of the present day. There are three main characters, Jackson Brodie,the retired cop turned private investigator who appears in previous novels by the author; Tracy Waterhouse, a young PC who discovers the murder in 1975 and whom we meet again in the present day, retired from the force, as a security officer in the Merrion Centre in Leeds; and Tilly, an old actress slowly losing her marbles. Woven through the story is the theme of the loss or absence of children, which affects many of the main characters in different ways. Indeed, the central plot of the story is the mystery of the lost childhood of a woman who lives in New Zealand and wants to know where she came from.

"Started Early, Took my Dog", is from the opening line of a poem by Emily Dickinson and her poetry infuses the story through the mind of Jackson Brodie. It is perfectly possible to read and enjoy this book without having read the previous novels featuring this protagonist, but there is a lot of backstory of his character, and some of this is a bit confusing with many of the women he's had relationships with lightly sketched in. I assume we would know more about them for having read the previous works.

The story kept me enthralled enough for me to read the second half of the novel in a day, but the exciting plot twists that keep you going through a Dan Brown novel are a bit sparse here and we find the truth of what happened in the main plot surprisingly early. The sub-plot of Tilly though seemed flabby. You bear with her through the story because you assume she must have some critical function to the main plot but in the end are irritated that her relevance is marginal and the denouement in which she appears is just plain silly and unnecessary.

Also annoying are the unresolved plots. When the main inciting incident happens to Tracy at the beginning of the story, one of the characters says something to her that she doesn't understand, but we never find out the truth of this remark. There is also a murder, again, fairly central to the story, that is unresolved.

The two main protagonists eventually meet through a coincidence of quite ludicrous proportions and one of the characters gets out of a sticky situation in a way more reminiscent of James Bond than a novel with aspirations of literary fiction, but aside from these irritations,the novel is a joy to read. Atkinson writes beautifully. Her prose sparkles with depth and beauty, despite the drab and depressing subject matter, but is never plodding and with the twisting and turning of viewpoints, often of the same scene, she cleverly maintains suspense throughout the novel.

I enjoyed reading it, but not so much so that I want to rush out and read her previous books. However, I'll probably get the next one in the series, if only in the hope that we get some of those annoying plots solved.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome return for Jackson Brodie, 27 Jan. 2011
I have been reading Kate Atkinson with great enjoyment since "Behind the Scenes at the Museum", and I was delighted when Jackson Brodie, the dishevelled-yet-attractive hero of "Case Histories", turned up again in her next two novels. This book is his fourth outing, and the book ends with a teaser which suggests it won't be his last appearance - so there is yet hope for his apparently doomed romance with the lovely Louise Monroe.

This story is set in Yorkshire rather than in Scotland, and involves the typical mix of Kate Atkinson characters: some villains, some victims, and some (including Jackson himself, of course) who will happily cross the line into illegality, but with such excellent motives that we can't help being on their side. And as ever with Kate Atkinson's novels, although there is a level of gritty realism, you have to be able to accept a high level of coincidence to be comfortable with the plot. But these are not conventional detective novels, although there are crimes and mysteries at their heart - they are witty, character-based stories in which the good (or at least, well-intentioned) try to right wrongs and thwart evil-doers.

My personal favourite of the Jackson Brodie stories so far is "One Good Turn", which is a brilliantly plotted story, brimming with interesting characters. I don't personally feel that "Started Early" is quite as good as that, or its sequel "When Will There Be Good News?" - the characters are not quite as engaging, and even though the main plot threads were all drawn together at the end of the book with Kate Atkinson's usual aplomb, I was left with one nagging question which didn't seem to have been answered adequately for a completely satisfying resolution. I also wondered whether the many references to Jackson's past - his former wife and the train crash especially - would have been annoying for those who came to this story without reading the previous three Jackson Brodie novels.

In short: if you are already a fan of Jackson Brodie, you will not want to miss this book. If you haven't read any Kate Atkinson before, I would start with "Case Histories" and work through the Jackson stories chronologically.
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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Short changed!, 7 Oct. 2010
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This review is from: Started Early, Took My Dog (Jackson Brodie) (Hardcover)
If you like Kate Atkinson then you'll probably like her latest offering, although the plot does stretch credibility even further than she usually does. My main grouse is that it is unfinished. We are left waiting for the next installment as she doesn't bother to resolve one of the main plot lines. That's a cheap ploy Ms Atkinson to try ensure sales of the sequel! The book should stand alone as a good read - it's not a serial. I felt cheated at the end of this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book Review - Started Early, Took My Dog - Kate Atkinson, 9 May 2014
Luckily for me, I had watched the TV version of this story with Jason Isaacs in the starring role as Jackson Brodie. And yes, it made good television, a couple of short series to get a flavour of the characters. Of course, the book has a lot more going on, after all, it has to be condensed to fit in the allotted timeslot the show is given. It must have been a year since I had seen the TV show and I had forgotten the plot. However, in the book there is so much going on and so many characters that I was thankful to have had a taster. I think it did make it easier for me to follow and keep up with the events in the story.

It is well written with typical Kate Atkinson humour and Jackson comes across pretty much the character that actor Jason Isaacs has made his own. One missing ingredient in this story, she only gets a mention, is Detective Louise Monroe who usually provides a more off than on love interest for Jackson. Apart from the crime or action in this story we have some flashbacks or reminiscences to Jackson's family past; the re-occurring highlights of his sister's tragic death and the women in his life including his daughter Marlee. But again only mentioned. Even Julia does not really feature until the end.

There are quite an array of characters in this story. Jackson is chasing up an inquiry into someone's past and discovers far more than he bargained for. Yet, it appears he is not the only PI on the trail, but searching for different reasons. Typically, where Jackson treads there is trouble and both he and the PI trailing him start to dig up some information which has long been buried and forgotten and there are people who want the truth to remain hidden. Running parallel to this and also, with a connection to the past is Tracy Waterhouse's story, a former policewoman now retired, and running the security at the Merrion Centre. There is a lot in there to hold the audience and if you can keep up with the storyline then this a very good read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Improbable but comforting., 10 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Started Early, Took My Dog (Jackson Brodie) (Hardcover)
I have some sympathy with those readers who found this a little hard to get into. I read the first hundred pages with disappointment,largely because of the improbability of the situation that seemed to be developing in the novel. My copy was hijacked by my daughter and I didn't get it back until the other day.Miraculously,all seemed to have changed in the interim,possibly because I had waded through the truly abysmal latest offering from C.J.Sansom,and I rattled through the rest of "SETMD" with real enjoyment.

The plot of the novel became no less ludicrous in the second half than at the beginning but what increasingly shone through were Ms Atkinson's humanity,her boundless wit and acute observation of character and location.She also has something to say about how we should act towards each other and,especially towards children.There is a comforting, redemptive quality about her stories, particularly this one.Notions of decency and honour are presented with little attempt at camouflaging irony.She promotes tolerance and understanding and admires bravery. She can be shamelessly emotionally manipulative (stray dogs,beguiling kids) at times but manages to redeem herself through sharp humour and crisp,believable dialogue.

By the end,I was enjoying every page, although I thought the last dip into the past was superfluous.The Emily Dickinson poem underlined the noble purpose of this story.Sometimes it's worth dipping a toe into the dangerous waters of sentimentality to say something worthwhile and I think Ms Atkinson has done that here.
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Started Early, Took My Dog (Jackson Brodie)
Started Early, Took My Dog (Jackson Brodie) by Kate Atkinson (Hardcover - 19 Aug. 2010)
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