Reviewing “Started Early, Took My Dog”
I love Kate Atkinson’s work and I must admit, I’d never heard of this novel before. But within a few pages, which opens with a rotting body in an apartment and Tracy Waterhouse as a young policewoman about to discover it with her partner, you’re pretty much drawn in. This is a clever plot, which rockets back between the 1970s and forty years later, the past catching up with the present. A murder, a search for identity, and a kidnapping: what more could you want from a story?
As a writer, I particularly admire the way Atkinson is able to create subtle links between the then and now – mentions of a certain cottage, or somebody’s wife, which all give the strong feeling that time is interconnected no matter how you try to escape it. The characters are beautifully drawn – Tracy Waterhouse (as tough and physically robust as a man, but with a mothering instinct second to none); Tilly (an elderly actress with dementia); Courtney (the kidnapped kid who eats her way through everything offered and collects memorabilia in her increasingly heavy satchel); Jackson Brodie (the partly active private detective who finds himself with a rescue dog and a soft spot for his former wife Julia); and many others.
Even better, the wry (and sometimes inappropriate) humour and wit of this novel had me laughing out loud several times.
All in all, a wonderful read.