April – a month of blossom and bird song and, of course, books. With the sun threatening to shine, there’s no better time to dig out the picnic blanket and head to the park, with of course, a good book for company. And Kate Atkinson’s Started Early, Took My Dog is a great book to put a spring in your step. Started Early sees the return of the detective Jackson Brodie, the man women readers are in love with thanks to his ‘shepherd mentality’ – as Atkinson said ‘he’s not going to close the door until everyone’s home.’
The last Brodie book was called, When Will There Be Good News? And the good news is, a TV series is being made of her Brodie books, starring the lovely Jason Isaacs. The other reason Started Early is book of the month is because it is also a homage to Yorkshire. Set in and around north Yorkshire – Harrogate, Fountain’s Abbey, Leeds – it’s a chance to indulge in a cup of coffee at Bettys and soak in God’s own county in this page-turning caper with as always, a big heart that guides us through some of the darker impulses of life. A prostitute’s murdered corpse is found locked in her flat three weeks after the murder. It’s 1975, and with the body is the woman’s toddler, alive but traumatised. PC Tracey Waterhouse attends the scene. Decades later, working as a security chief at the Merrion shopping centre, she makes a shocking impulse purchase. Enter stage left, aging actress Tilly, on the brink of dementia and Jackson Brodie on a mission to find out the identity of an adopted child and the past re-enters all of their lives. The plotting is as rich as a ‘faberge egg’ – remarkable when Atkinson says she doesn’t plot her books. It’s not surprising she is such a bestseller, when you reach the last page you don’t want to leave her world.