Dark Humor with a Twist: Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

Started Early, Took My Dog is the fourth in a sequence of quirky, quasi-mystery novels by English author Kate Atkinson (Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News?.) Kate Atkinson lives in Edinburgh, where the second book was set, but, according to her Web site, Started Early, Took My Dog is her “hymn to Yorkshire [England].”
Started Early, Took My Dog
follows the same style as her other novels about Jackson Brodie, a former police inspector turned reluctant private investigator, but it seemed to me as though she may be getting tired of using the popular formula. (Maybe the BBC TV show, Case Histories, has caused her to lose interest in Jackson Brodie as a fictional character or maybe she is just going on with the books for the sake of readers who want a happy ending for Brodie, or maybe she is under contract with her publisher and the money is good.)
In Started Early, Took My Dog, as in the other Jackson Brodie books, readers get bits and pieces of the actions of different characters who at first seem completely unconnected, but whose past and present lives eventually intersect, merging briefly before breaking apart. Most of the main characters in Started Early, Took My Dog are police or former police, and as in all the Jackson Brodie books, most of them have an air of world-weariness, an attitude of “I’ve seen it all while eating a sandwich,” such as might develop over years of seeing lives full of human drama reduced to dead bodies on a daily basis. Occasional flashes of joy or despair startle them out of their bleak outlook, reminding them that life still has unplumbed depths and keeping them from offing themselves.
The writing is still excellent, as always, and the humor is still strong. Started Early, Took My Dog is worth reading just for the author’s one-line descriptions of what her characters see and think. Maybe because Jackson Brodie’s love interest is offstage in Scotland for the entire book, or because I’m more of a cat person and so wasn’t charmed by Brodie’s rescued pup, Started Early, Took My Dog just didn’t charm me as much as the earlier books.
There are some spoilers in it about events in the previous books, so I recommend reading the books in order.

Other blogger’s opinions (mostly good):
B. Morrison

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International Noir Fiction
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