Dec 3, 2010


review by Material Witness

Kate Atkinson writes prose of such simplicity and clarity that she makes the process look as if it is ridiculously easy. And even if the writing is almost certainly not easy - although it might be - the reading is.  Her words flow off the page like the nectar of the Gods: delicious, golden, life-giving.  Minutes and hours can pass without notice in her company.

Did I mention I like her books? I love her books. If Kate Atkinson wrote dishwasher manuals, I would read them. If Jackson Brodie, her private detective, spent 100 pages tying his shoelaces or mowing the lawn or reading a Kate Atkinson dishwasher manual, I would read it.
Tied to the deceptively simple, fluent writing are Atkinson's acute and incisive observational skills and fresh view of the world which allow her to bring new life to moribund and ordinary. These talents are deployed with particular precision and impact when describing human emotions and behaviour, which makes her characters multi-dimensional and fascinating and such compelling company on the page. Atkinson also has the gift of timing, continually delivering just the right line at the right moment. This is particularly true of Julia - Brodies' former lover - who is a peripheral character in this book but acts as a sort of commentator on Jackson's choices and actions, as he remembers what she might say at any particular juncture. (This is one of the attributes that makes her books so perfect for audio).

With all this going for it, Started Early, Took My Dog - the fourth book of the Jackson Brodie series - scarcely needs a plot, but Atkinson provides one anyway.

Brodie is back in hs native Leeds, searching out a family history for an adoptee who was moved to New Zealand by her new parents. Despite working all available official channels, he cannot find a trace of Hope McMaster's former life, and is forced to the conclusion that his client's history is less straightfoward and probably less legal than she believes.  READ MORE....

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