Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson (4 stars)

Masterful characters discover a world of crime and corruption

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

Popular private investigator Jackson Brodie makes a dramatic return in Kate Atkinson’s latest offering; as he delves into the past and discovers a world of corruption, killings and cover-ups. Set in Leeds, Started Early, Took My Dog marks another triumph for its award-laden, best-selling writer as it switches seamlessly between modern-day happenings and the events surrounding the brutal murder of a prostitute in 1975. We flit between the stories of three main protagonists – tough yet secretly tender security chief Tracy Waterhouse, loveable hero Brodie and Tilly our fading TV actress – and as their lives start to bleed into each other, enticing clues and killer lines peppering the trail, a much darker underbelly is soon revealed.

Almost as compelling as Atkinson’s latest twist-ridden plot, is the way the Edinburgh-based author has over the years totally mastered character portrayal. Sharply written sentences are densely packed with information so you feel like you know these people inside out after just the briefest of introductions; and paragraphs are filled with their musings on shared past experiences, crime and society, all aired to make, on occasion, rather uncomfortable reading.

On the face of it, this book is a parade of tragic types all suffering from differing degrees of cynicism and a longing for something they never had. Read between the lines of Started Early, Took My Dog, however, and you are rewarded with an intensely fascinating study into the effects of time and the constant battle between right and wrong with plenty of complex questions to be answered along the way.


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