Last time I looked at Kate Atkinson's website, I got the impression she was done with Jackson Brodie, at least for a while. That was back when I read When Will There Be Good News. But apparently I was wrong! What a pleasure to discover Started Early, Took My Dog, a new mystery featuring this complicated man (ex-cop, ex-soldier, private investigator, denizen of Edinburgh and other northern cities).
As usual in Atkinson's books, multiple plot strands (from both the past and the present) intertwine to create a twisted web of crime, corruption, moral ambiguity and emotional wreckage. This story also features a new character, ex-detective Tracy Waterhouse, who seems to have a lot in common with Brodie: On the same day that Brodie kidnaps a dog from his abusive owner, Tracy kidnaps a little girl from her abusive mother. Meanwhile, Brodie wants to talk to Tracy about her memories of a case from 40 years ago, another kidnapping of a child. Tracy is as tightly wound as Brodie, and just as respectful of the rules (sarcasm). I liked her.
So can you follow it? Yes, because Atkinson is always up to the task: no loose ends, nothing left to coincidence. She is an expert at this form. If you haven't read these books, you should start with the first one, Case Histories. They are really, really good.
And here is another treat: When I visited Atkinson's website, I discovered that the BBC has made a TV series of the first few Jackson Brodie titles, starring Jason Isaacs, who is skinnier than I imagine Brodie to be, but who otherwise looks perfect for the part. I don't think Netflix is carrying this yet in the U.S. but I'm sure it will arrive soon enough.
Becky Holmes blogs about books at A Book A Week.