Tag Archives: Jackson Brodie

World Book Day 2013…

Really it is probably preaching to the converted mentioning World Book Day here, yet I did feel it would be wrong of me not to, for that is indeed what it is. People were asking me if I was doing anything special for World Book Day, rather shamefully I am not. Though as I type this I have just sorted out a lot of events for ‘In Other Words’, Liverpool’s Literature Festival and been on the blower about a bookish trip to London I am making at the end of the month –so in a way my day has been so bookish it has made me feel a little booked out. However I still think I should mark the day in some way, but how?

Well I have stolen the idea off The Readers, the book based banter (books, books, books) podcast I co-host, and the section we now call ‘Reading Horizons’ and used to call ‘What We Have Read, Are Reading and Want To Read Next’. So I thought we could all spill the beans on that and see what we can inspire everyone else to read by sharing them and some thoughts on them.

Reading Horizon

So I have just read ‘The Wizard of Oz’, which I will be reporting back on fully tomorrow, for the very first time. This was in part because Hesperus Press have done the most amazing covers in their editions this year and also because I have become obsessed with the new Oz movie – just from the trailers, which I have been watching twice a day just for a fix. I have a slight obsession with the Wicked Witch of the West and so am also very excited that I am seeing the film tomorrow night, so wanted to read the book before that.

I have just started, literally today, ‘Life After Life’ by Kate Atkinson. I am a HUGE fan of Atkinson, I love her Jackson Brodie books and her literary fiction, especially ‘Human Croquet’, and her short stories, some of which I must reread soon. I have to admit I have had this proof a good few months, after throwing a small – very small – tantrum about not getting it when loads of people had it (diva moment, very, very rare) then it arrived and I was just too excited to read it. You know that feeling of ‘I love this author, I will love this book… but what if I don’t or what if no other book this year will compare to it?’ That!

Finally, ‘The Hunger and the Howling of Killian Lone’ by Will Storr. I know relatively nothing about this book but I was asked if I would like to read it as it might just be up my street. It arrived and with taglines like ‘The secret ingredient of unforgettable food is suffering’ and ‘There are no ghosts. There are only stories too stubborn to die.’ I think it will indeed be right up my street.

So now over to you, share the book love. What have you been reading, what are you reading, and what do you fancy reading next… and why?

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

Started Early, Took My Dog – Kate Atkinson

When one of the books you have been most looking forward to all year pops through my letter box my mind seems to split in two. The first half wants to drop whatever it is I am already reading and start it that second. The second half holds off with a mixture of wanting to wait because once I have read it its read and also the fear that it might not be as good as the others. I always find the latter interesting as I don’t tend to be a pessimistic person. These debates went on when ‘Started Early, Took My Dog’ (which might be one of my favourite book titles of the year) by Kate Atkinson arrived, in the end however I just caved in.

‘Started Early, Took My Dog’ is the fourth in what has become a series of ‘literary crime’ novels, as they have been pigeon-holed by publishers/bookshops not by me, featuring Jackson Brodie. Yet if you are now worrying ‘oh I haven’t read the other three’ fear not because what is brilliant about this set of books is that they all stand alone and (as a few of my family members have – not naming any names) you could read them in any order. But let’s get onto what ‘Started Early, Took My Dog’ is all about shall we?

To try and encapsulate the story or plot of ‘Started Early, Took My Dog’ is actually quite difficult. It’s quite a complex plot, though not so complex you have no enjoyment in it in fact quite the opposite, told over two periods in time and through several different view points in each. As the main story, told in the present day, opens we are in Yorkshire where Jackson Brodie has come out of ‘semi retirement’ as a private investigator to look into the past of Hope McMaster who was adopted and taken to New Zealand. We also have Matilda ‘Tilly’ Squires an aging and slightly forgotten actress in the Yorkshire drama ‘Collier’ who is suffering from the start of dementia. We also have Tracy Waterhouse a former Sergeant for the West Yorkshire Police and now Head of Security in the Merrion Shopping Centre  who is completely unaware that she is about to do something that will change her life forever.

The second interweaving back story from mid 1970’s when Yorkshire was in the grip of several serial killers. This is where we meet a much younger Tracy and her colleagues investigating the murder of a prostitute and her son who vanishes from orphanage to orphanage as if someone wants him not to be found. How does all this weave together and what does it have to do with the aforementioned Tilly and Jackson? Well you would have to read the book to find out and you really should because the way Atkinson does it is not only incredibly clever (without leaving the reader completely lost) it’s also very readable.

The more I read of Atkinson’s work and in particular this series, the more of a genius I think she is. Not only do you have a mystery or two in the book to work out, you have this overall mystery of just how on earth everything interlinks and with ‘Started Early, Took My Dog’ she draws out the process by introducing each character and bringing their circumstances and personalities to the fore. No one dimensional characters here, not even if they are merely in the book for a page or two. All the main characters are marvellous, readable and real. In doing so she also gets to voice her thoughts on both issues from the past (in this case the serial killings in the seventies which gripped the nation and left many women in fear) and in the present (prostitution, child welfare, the recession, dementia) through their back stories which makes it even a fuller read. If you are reading them in order and for Jackson Brodie (as my Gran does) then he does soften a little in this one and all because of the most surprising new sidekick.

I also think ‘Started Early, Took My Dog’ has learnt from its excellent predecessors. It has the darkness of ‘Case Histories’, the humour – though less farcical and more contained – of ‘One Good Turn’ and the brilliant complexities of the coincidental plotting in ‘When Will There Be Good News?’ whilst also like its predecessors being nothing like any that have gone before it. I can’t wait for the next one!

A book that will: show you why crime fiction can be so good and why its so annoying that some of it doesn’t get a mention in the big prize long lists. 10/10

I don’t think I can suggest any perfect prose partners for this other than the earlier books in the series. I could suggest some of the Sophie Hannah or Susan Hill crime novels because Hannah makes the impossible and complex possible, and Hill interweaves crime with great social awareness and themes, yet though I love them dearly Atkinson seems to interweave the two. If you haven’t read these then you really must. If you have read this and/or its predecessors what did you think? Which other novels by Atkinson have you tried? I really must give ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ a whirl.

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Filed under Books of 2010, Kate Atkinson, Review, Transworld Publishing