Thursday, 8 May 2014

Book Review - Started Early, Took My Dog - Kate Atkinson

Synopsis - A day like any other for security chief Tracy Waterhouse, until she makes a shocking impulse purchase.  That one moment of madness is all it takes for Tracy's humdrum world to be turned upside down, the tedium of everyday life replaced by fear and danger at every turn.

Witnesses to Tracy's outrageous exchange in the Merrion Centre in Leeds are Tilly, an elderly actress teetering on the brink of her own disaster, and Jackson Brodie who has returned to his home county in search of someone else's roots.  All three characters learn that the past is never history and that no good deed goes unpunished.

Review - 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 recurring 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. 4*

ISBN 978-0-552-77246-4 Black Swan edition 2011, Transworld Publishers 

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