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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

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

Mystery fans must check this out! 
by Kate Atkinson
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Reagan Arthur / Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (October 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316066745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316066747
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches 
      Genre: Mystery
      My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0

Book Description
Publication Date: October 6, 2011
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.
Review: This is a twisting mystery presented with a wonderful literary bent.

The book begins with the poem “For want of a nail the shoe was lost....” The story then proceeds to follow  circumstances surrounding the disappearance of children and how the ultimate impact.  There are two stories intertwined by the character connections.

Tracy Waterhouse, a large awkward girl, was new to the police department in 1975. Tracy and her partner discover a murdered prostitute,  and small boy who had been abandoned for weeks. Tracy keeps trying to follow-up regarding the child but reaches a dead end being told that he has been sent off to an orphanage and records are sealed.

In current day retired Tracy spots a woman she knows as a prostitute, druggie and thief, verbally abusing a child as she drags her through the mall. Tracy impulsively buys the little girl and decides she will liquidate her assets, move far away and raise the child as her own. A witness to the exchange is a sweet elderly actress, Tillie, who is going senile and mixing her screen life with real life.

Meanwhile Jackson Brodie, a retired policeman, semi-retired Private Investigator, is searching for the identity of a client who has learned her past is false. The leads have sent Jackson to interview a social worker and several police officers who handled the death of a prostitute and an orphaned child in 1975. One of those officers is Tracy. As Jackson sets out he sees a man abusing a dog and manages to acquire the dog to take along his investigation.

Tracy is afraid that one of her former co-workers is on her heels. As she and the child are slipping away from her house they stumble into Jackson who agrees to give them a ride.
Ironically Jackson is not the only one looking into the 1975 murder incident. A real P.I., Brian Jackson, is searching on behalf another client who may have connection to the 1975 event.

The story isn’t straight forward and it took a few chapters to recognize that it was going to bounce around.  It requires patience and attention to keep track. The author weaves from past to present and through the lives and memories of the characters who were involved in 1975 and in current day events as the past starts to unravel. There are paralleling features in the two time lines as the characters criss-cross with twists and surprise suspects.

I really liked the detailed description of circumstances with purposes and nuances that portray the emotions of the characters. There is wonderfully sardonic humor throughout the book. The author uses poetry, play and literary references that add interest and fit nicely with the mind flow of the story.  The writing has a very different feel to me ... almost ethereal or “misty” which seemed fitting to the puzzle of the mystery.  The facts are tied up at the end although the future is left open and that too fits the story. There is an interesting Reading Group Guide at the end.

This is the first Kate Atkinson book I have read but I will definitely seek out other works.  If you like mysteries you should try this book. Just don’t expect a straight forward path of clues but be prepared for a path that includes prosaic and meandering mind trails along with investigative twists and literary pearls.

A favorite quote:
“The interrupted journey, the unexpected gift, the unforseen encounter. Life had its plots.”

Thank you to Hachette - Little Brown & Co. for this book to read and review.

1. Visit the author's website and tell me something of interest you found there.  This is required for entry.

2.  For an extra entry, become a follower or tell me if you are already a follower.

3.  For two entries, blog, facebook, tweet (any of those networks!) about this giveaway and tell me where you did.

It isn't necessary to use separate entries unless you want them in different chronological order.
(Four total entries possible.)

* This contest is only open to residents of US and Canada.
* This contest will close 10 PM (Central) on December 30, 2011.
The winner will be randomly selected from all entries.
Winners will have 72 hours to respond by email or the winners form linked in the announcement.


  1. I love the large pic of all the authors books right on the hoe page. It really grabs you're attention.


  2. I am a follower


  3. I found this interesting:Kate was awarded an MBE in the Queen's 2011 Birthday Honours, for services to literature

    old gfc follower under Martha Lawson

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  4. Kate was awarded an MBE(Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire", an honour given by the Queen to people who are citizens of Commonwealth countries) in the Queen's 2011 Birthday Honours, for services to literature.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  5. I am a GFC follower

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  6. I learned that Kate was awarded an MBE in the Queen's 2011 Birthday Honours, for services to literature.

  7. I am already a follower via GFC, google reader and email.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  8. Tweeted:

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  9. I found the title of her first book interesting - Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Sounds like something I'd enjoy.

    I am a GFC follower. Thanks for the giveaway.


  10. nice idea, thanks for sharing...

  11. Kate use to live in York. That is where I am from.Please enter me in contest.I would love to read her books.

  12. I think I am going to be hooked on her books, all of them looks so good, especially 'Behind the Scenes at the Museum'.


  13. I follow you with GFC and e-mail among other ways.


  14. I tweeted:


  15. Thank you very much for the chance to win!
    GFC Krystal Larson edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom
    I love the Behind the Scenes portion of the authors' web site.

  16. Kate was awarded an MBE in the Queen's 2011 Birthday Honours, for services to literature.

    tiramisu392 (at)

  17. I found a total of 8 books on her website. Didn't know she was such a prolific writers.

    I am a follower.

    harvee44 at

  18. I learned that she is fascinated by losing identity and people who are lost which is a cool idea for a book.
    follow on gfc as Helen
    helldog3 at


Your comments are always appreciated!


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