Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007-2013. Please give credit where credit is due.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Book notes No. 42 : Started Early, Took my Dog, Kate Atkinson

Cold. Colder. In fact, very much colder than recent days. The waterfalls are all proudly displaying icicles, and everywhere the soil is hard with frost.

I don't know what drew me to this book, which appeared recently out of the blue in my Amazon recommendations. I guess it must have been the title, which accurately describes what I do most days. (Perhaps Amazon have been spying on me...)

The jacket blurb explains to those idiots who haven't heard the news (idiots like me) that Kate Atkinson is a literary writer. Behind the Scenes at the Museum, her first novel won the Whitbread Book of the Year when it was first published and is therefore officially Literature. The jacket blurb goes on to explain that Ms Atkinson has turned her hand to crime fiction, that this could actually be considered a downward step, but that in fact in some way she has stooped to conquer.

And they'd be right. She has certainly conquered me with this fascinating, fast-moving crimmie, which I read in only three sittings. I regretted the late night each morning-after, but not the pleasure of the reading.

The story is told from three different perspectives: Tracy Waterhouse the plump, plain, retired policewoman; Tilly, the ageing actress in a wobbly wig; and Jackson Brodie, the gumshoe on the trail of a lost child that has brought him back to his home town of Leeds. 

With these three protagonists as reference points, Atkinson has put together a racy read full of the hairpins, cliffhangers and switchbacks that are essential to good crime writing. And amid all the comings, goings and doings, amid all the red herrings and pints of ale, amid the murders and the mystery there is some spanking good writing. The 1970s in the north of England are evoked in all their glory, and so is the north of today, bankrupt and bleak but with moments of timeless beauty. There are plenty of wry jokes, a number of scenes that wring the heart and one or two meditations that really get to the nub of things - for me at least - when it comes to talking about children and the way they are treated in our society.

A damn fine read, and well worth the mornings after.

5 comments:

V. said...

Like you I read it very fast. I agree. It's a corker. Happy Monday.

melissa said...

Great review and I love your Douglas Adam quote on the reply page.

I'm going to put that book on my book depository list. :)

LindyLouMac said...

Oh goody a new Kate Atkinson for my wishlist, thanks for drawing it to my attention with this review Louise.

Clipped Wings said...

Sounds like a must read. Thanks.

diana said...

I think I'll download it to the Kindle and have a go. Grazie. :)

Monday, 24 January 2011

Book notes No. 42 : Started Early, Took my Dog, Kate Atkinson

Cold. Colder. In fact, very much colder than recent days. The waterfalls are all proudly displaying icicles, and everywhere the soil is hard with frost.

I don't know what drew me to this book, which appeared recently out of the blue in my Amazon recommendations. I guess it must have been the title, which accurately describes what I do most days. (Perhaps Amazon have been spying on me...)

The jacket blurb explains to those idiots who haven't heard the news (idiots like me) that Kate Atkinson is a literary writer. Behind the Scenes at the Museum, her first novel won the Whitbread Book of the Year when it was first published and is therefore officially Literature. The jacket blurb goes on to explain that Ms Atkinson has turned her hand to crime fiction, that this could actually be considered a downward step, but that in fact in some way she has stooped to conquer.

And they'd be right. She has certainly conquered me with this fascinating, fast-moving crimmie, which I read in only three sittings. I regretted the late night each morning-after, but not the pleasure of the reading.

The story is told from three different perspectives: Tracy Waterhouse the plump, plain, retired policewoman; Tilly, the ageing actress in a wobbly wig; and Jackson Brodie, the gumshoe on the trail of a lost child that has brought him back to his home town of Leeds. 

With these three protagonists as reference points, Atkinson has put together a racy read full of the hairpins, cliffhangers and switchbacks that are essential to good crime writing. And amid all the comings, goings and doings, amid all the red herrings and pints of ale, amid the murders and the mystery there is some spanking good writing. The 1970s in the north of England are evoked in all their glory, and so is the north of today, bankrupt and bleak but with moments of timeless beauty. There are plenty of wry jokes, a number of scenes that wring the heart and one or two meditations that really get to the nub of things - for me at least - when it comes to talking about children and the way they are treated in our society.

A damn fine read, and well worth the mornings after.

5 comments:

V. said...

Like you I read it very fast. I agree. It's a corker. Happy Monday.

melissa said...

Great review and I love your Douglas Adam quote on the reply page.

I'm going to put that book on my book depository list. :)

LindyLouMac said...

Oh goody a new Kate Atkinson for my wishlist, thanks for drawing it to my attention with this review Louise.

Clipped Wings said...

Sounds like a must read. Thanks.

diana said...

I think I'll download it to the Kindle and have a go. Grazie. :)