‘A claustrophobic world haunted by the past’ – Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

Started Early, Took My Dog is a labyrinthine mystery that begins on a morning in a busy shopping centre with an unusual purchase. Its star for me was Tracy Waterhouse, a newly retired police officer who sees, and seizes, the opportunity to rescue a child from what she sees as an inevitable fate. What we learn, however, is that she is not the only one. A thirty five year old mystery is at the heart of this maze: a prostitute is found murdered and her child, found by her body, is sucked in to the system and never seen again. The horror of this murder lingers with the band of police officers involved, and when a private investigator begins to mention the case again, it sets in motion a spiral of bad memories.

The characters that populate this Yorkshire set story are developed to perfection. There is Jackson Brodie, the gruff private investigator on the trail of the past life of a client in New Zealand who opens a massive can of worms. In his search for his client’s parents, he makes men and women who had long buried their crimes question not only their actions, but their relationship with their children. At every turn he takes, doors close on the information he needs and we see characters scurrying to protect themselves.

A stolen baby, a bought child, a buried grandson and a child in a coma link these characters to the past. While one child wants to know where she came from, a whole band of people linked by a tragedy want to keep her from ever learning the truth. As the net closes in, Tracy’s ex-partner realises he must be the one to bring them all to justice.

Any Cop?: A well established, intelligent mystery, Started Early, Took My Dog draws you in to a claustrophobic world haunted by the past. Delightfully slow at revealing the facts, it will keep you guessing until almost the last minute.

Helen Dring

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