Englischsprachige Literatur

Atkinson Kate

Started early, took my dog

Transworld/Random House, London 2010


Kate Atkinson, born 1951 in Yorkshire (?), prize-winning author of several novels, has written four crime stories featuring Jackson Brodie, the middle-aged ex-military, ex-cop private detective, and this is the fourth, latest instalment. Like the title it comes along as the soliloquy of an elderly dog-owning lady reminiscing about her youth in the seventies, throwing in witty, wise or sarcastic bonmots about life in general: “Pensioners didn´t behave like pensioners anymore, they all thought they were ruddy Sean Connery.” (p. 263) - “It used to be the poor  who were thin and the rich  who were fat, now it seemed the other way round.” (p 256)

For the sake of story-telling she splits herself into several main characters, but they all think and speak Atkinsonesque. The action weaves back and forth between 1975 and the present, until Atkinson has woven such a dense web that everybody is connected with everybody. Nice try, but not convincing.

Jackson Brodie is engaged by an Australian lady who was adopted by an English couple in Leeds and now wants to find her real parents. The adoption took place in 1975 together with the brutal murder of a prostitute. The local police in Leeds covered everything up, but truth will out in the end, won´t it? The present day part of the plot includes former police officer Tracy Waterhouse who buys a four-year-old child from another prostitute. Jackson, acting as a counterpart, saves a dog from cruel treatment and is saved by him in return.

It takes a strong believer in Atkinson´s literary skills to put up with all that.