When I heard The Casual Vacancy was being published, I was excited; Harry Potter was an incredibly significant part of my youth, and I wanted to see if J.K. Rowling could utilise her literary skills for adult readers. Sadly, while I enjoyed the book, it did not feel like much of a transference from her previous writing, and I was disappointed.
When the news was leaked that Robert Galbraith, author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, was in fact J.K. Rowling I had to read it. To my delight I loved it; although it is a shame J.K. Rowling lost her anonymity, I am glad the revelation has brought me something wonderful. The prose are miles better than the more simplistic The Casual Vacancy; you would never have guessed she had written it.
After losing his leg to a landmine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.1
J.K. Rowling is a literary magician; her technique for creating wonder characters and intricate plots worked here where it did not in The Casual Vacancy. There are two key protagonists leading the story, with minor characters compiling the mystery; Cormoran Strike – I’m having flashbacks to Hermione as I am still having to tell my head to stop pronouncing it Conmoran – was an epically good private eye, he isn’t stunning but he is smart. Robin was an enjoyable Robin to Strike’s Batman – pardon the pun – she doesn’t fall in love with Strike and she wants to be an equal to him, not just his handyman. She is not unrealistically attractive or intelligent, she could be anyone. While I would have liked her to have a little more force, I get the feeling the more this series goes on the more oomph she will gain. Afterall, she and Strike have just met, we’ve not nearly seen all her personality yet.
The multi-ethnic plot was fantastic; it was refreshing to read a novel where more than half the characters were not white – a realistic representation of London where the novel is set. Finally, the mystery itself was gripping; once I had time to properly sit and engage with it – this is not something you can read for an odd half and hour here and there – I couldn’t put it down.
Brilliant, just brilliant.