Started Early, Took My Dog - Kate Atkinson For me this, the latest chapter in Kate Atkinson's of Jackson Brodie books combines the best of the previous three novels, the darkness of 'Case Histories', the humour of 'One Good turn' and the complex plotting of 'When will there be Good News'

As usual Atkinson deftly weaves the inter twining skeins of characters and their stories but this one really plays with your mind.

“For example, there's not only Jackson Brodie on the case but (unknown to him) another private detective with the suspiciously similar name of Brian Jackson. Their investigations run on parallel tracks. Brodie and another former detective bump into each other, each unaware that the other holds the key to the case they are both working on, one of them having kidnapped a child, the other having kidnapped a dog. One of the other characters is an elderly actress called Tilly who's got a job playing the mother of a TV detective in a series somewhat like Heartbeat in which Jackson's former partner Julia also makes a brief appearance." 

And when Jackson meets Julia, you're not completely sure that he has done, so often does he have imaginary conversations with her in his head. Similarly, Tilly isn't quite sure whether what she's seeing is real or imaginary, because that's what happens when dementia is starting to take hold of an actress's mind in which so much fiction has already metastasised into fact.”

Sad to hear that this might be the last Jackson Brodie for a while

“Right now, though, says Atkinson, she needs a break from Brodie. "The first book was such a joy to write because I came to it absolutely fresh," she says. "It went so well that I carried on with a second novel, even though I had never intended to. With this one, although it helped that I could take him back to Yorkshire, the plotting was so complicated towards the end that it really made me realise that I needed a break. I know that I've got to come back fresh and I don't feel that at the moment. He's just got to develop offstage, and I need to go off and do something different. So the next time I see him might be in seven years' time, something like that." And then she offers me a tiny Emily Dickinson feather of hope. "But I might change my mind."

I hope so as the world is a darker place without a Jackson Brodie book on the go...

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