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Started Early, Took My Dog
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Jackson Brodie returns in Atkinson's fourth novel (Case Histories; One Good Turn; When Will There Be Good News?) featuring the former policeman. Jackson (semiretired at 50) is doing some private detective work and trying to come to grips with his personal life, which includes a teenage daughter from his first marriage, a son with a former lover, and a second wife who stole his savings. Jackson adds a small dog to the mix by rescuing it from its abusive owner as he undertakes an "innocent" request from a woman in Australia: Could Jackson help her find her birth parents in England? In this literary mystery on the theme of missing children, nothing is innocent or simple. The intricate narrative, composed with deftness and humor, moves among scenes set alternately in 1975 and the present and contains a cast of well-drawn characters whose relationships unfold like the layers of a peeled onion. VERDICT This book will not disappoint Atkinson and Jackson Brodie fans, but it might be a stretch for some readers to keep up with the multifaceted plot, though it is well worth the effort. [Five-city author tour; see Prepub Alert, 12/13/10.]-Nancy Fontaine, Dartmouth Coll., Hanover, NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

When Tracy Waterhouse, a recently retired police detective, sees a repeat criminal offender, Kelly Cross, aggressively dragging a small child through town, she impulsively decides to buy Kelly's child. Meanwhile, Jackson Brodie, a private investigator, also finds himself forcibly taking custody of a vulnerable being-this time it's an abused dog. Both Waterhouse and Brodie find themselves pulled together into a complicated mix of mysteries as they discover more about their new companions. Graeme Malcolm enriches the narrative with his deep, raspy, English-accented voice. When delivering the story from female points of view, Malcolm lightens his growl and shifts tone well enough to be convincing. The one drawback is that sometimes his delivery around quick exchanges between characters or even within the narrative text can be hard to follow. A Little, Brown/Reagan Arthur hardcover. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

"Brilliant...Atkinson seamlessly weaves together [strands] in a plot driven by coincidence and a diamond-hard recognition of man's darker nature...[Tracy's] odyssey as a new parent to a waif dressed in a ragged fairy costume, relayed with both tenderness and wry wit, must be one of the grandest love affairs in crime fiction...For its singular melding of radiant humor and dark deeds, this is must-reading for literary crime-fiction fans."--Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist, starred review
"The sleuthing is less important than Atkinson's fascinating take on the philosophical and emotional dimensions of her characters' lives."--Kirkus
"[The Jackson Brodie books] are an entrancing hybrid of the literary novel/detective story. Case Histories...is a classic....Atkinson's views of contemporary society can be bleak, but she has an amazing eye for kids, dogs and human fallibility."--Mary Ann Gwinn, The Seattle Times
"Magnificently plotted...In the author's signature multilayered style, she shifts between past and present...Atkinson injects wit even in the bleakest moments...yet never loses her razor-sharp edge."--Publishers Weekly, starred review
"I can't take my nose out of Kate Atkinson's new thriller, Started Early, Took My Dog."--Alex Beam, The Boston Globe
"Mixing wry wit and gritty realism, Atkinson deftly smudges the border between literary and detective fiction-with complex, compelling characters negotiating a maze of grisly violence, dark secrets, and shadowy dangers."--Karen Holt, O, The Oprah Magazine
"Wonderful...full of artful digressions and unexpected turns, but it amply makes good on its obligations as a mystery novel to explain the who, what and why."--Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal
"Mold-breaking...Each one of these [Jackson Brodie] books, including this latest, is a delight: an intricate construction that assembles itself before the reader's eyes, populated by idiosyncratic, multidimensional characters and written with shrewd, mordant grace. They are in some respects mystery novels, but they're written with a literary skill uncommon in that genre, and in a mode -- the tragicomic -- that few but the most adept novelists can pull off in any genre."--Laura Miller, Salon
Ms. Atkinson writes passages that simply have to be read twice, once when you first travel through the book and then later, when you want to see just how she tricked you...Ms. Atkinson remains a wonderful stylist and Grade A schemer...She was never confined to the crime genre, has written in assorted other modes and excels at them all. Whatever she goes on to write, she leaves Jackson Brodie at a suspenseful and pivotal moment. Future installments are well worth waiting for."--Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Every time I hear Kate Atkinson has a new novel on the way, I'm filled with delight. I look forward to many authors' books with pleasure and interest, but Atkinson is such a virtuoso that my brain starts fizzing like a glass of bubbly even before I crack the covers. Started Early, Took My Dog does not disappoint...A witty, moving, suspenseful and always surprising story about the things we do for love...Atkinson's books stake out their own territory on the border between mysteries and literary fiction. There are crimes in this book...but Atkinson is just as concerned with crimes of the heart, and with the unexpected consequences of good intentions. She layers plot and time periods with consummate skill, creating novels that work like elegant jazz improvisations, taking us onto amazing yet believable paths that eventually weave together into an even more astonishing result...Atkinson, as always, brings something fresh to [themes as old as storytelling].--Colette Bancroft, St. Petersburg Times

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