Started Early, Took My Dog

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 February, 2011, 12:00am


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Started Early, Took My Dog
by Kate Atkinson
Black Swan, HK$104

Having hit the best-seller lists with her quirkily intelligent Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson has forged a mightily impressive and successful career as a writer of quirkily intelligent crime novels: her last book, When Will There Be Good News, was the third to feature her private detective, quirkily intelligent of course, Jackson Brodie. Started Early, Took My Dog is episode four in Brodie's adventures, although he does not take centre stage. That role is given to Tracy Waterhouse, a former police detective turned security chief. The plot too shuttles between past and present: Leeds in the mid-1970s, where the Yorkshire Ripper may or may not have killed Brodie's sister; and the present day, where Waterhouse buys (yes, buys) the abused daughter of a drug addict, who is later murdered. The surface of the story is playful and literary. Atkinson is a great comic observer: 'the women were all drinking shooters with ridiculous names - Flaming Lamborghini, Squashed Frog, Red-Headed Slut'. But violence is present wherever you look, especially violence towards young women. The balance between light and dark is admirably maintained. Roll on volume five.