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Book Review: Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

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

If the quirky title to this book doesn’t grab you, then the author might. This wonderful, insightful and unexpected tale of four different lives converging is by Kate Atkinson, an author of which I knew nothing until I read her amazing and moving, Life After Life. This book, recommended to me by a dear friend, is one in the Jackson Brodie (PI) series and, as the first I read about the eponymous and clever investigator, happens to be a doozy.

It commences with former cop and now shopping centre Security Guard, Tracey Waterhouse, rushing to resolve a problem and then behaving in a way that is completely out of character. Her act of madness (driven by kindness) sets off a chain of events over which she has no control and which rapidly disintegrate into a life and death situation.

In the meantime, there is a woman who doesn’t know her past and hires Brodie to uncover it, a cop with an all-but dead daughter for whom he grieves constantly, an aging actress whosedementia is ruining her career and thus life but in understated ways. Seemingly disconnected, the further Jackson investigates the crime he’s involved in, the more these disparate tales and lives begin to converge.

Peppered with wit, irony and flashes into human nature that you want to savour and repeat to others they are so apt, as well as heart-breaking and astute observations, this is a fabulous read. Someone described it in an earlier Goodreads review as the ‘intelligent reader’s beach read.’ Add to that it’s for anyone who loves beautiful writing, great plotting and losing oneself in other people’s stories and this is that book.

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