by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling pseudonym)
Would I have read this novel if I hadn’t known it was written by J.K. Rowling? Probably not since I usually do not read detective novels. I am not sure why since I love a good crime procedural on television. I would think that when I want something quick to read because I finished up some huge novel, I would reach for a detective novel, but I haven’t done that yet. I am glad that I read this one. While I enjoyed The Casual Vacancy, I don’t have the urge to ever read it again. I could see myself reading this one again.
The reader is introduced to Cormoran Strike as a private detective who lost part of his leg while in the army in Afghanistan. He’s also the illegitimate child of a famous rock star and one of his groupies and recently broke up with this long-time girlfriend, which has led him to sleeping in his office since his business is not doing too well and he can’t afford to get his own place at the moment. He has been hiring temporary secretaries, but meant to cancel them when his funds were becoming depleted when Robin Ellacott shows up. She is temping while doing job interviews for a full-time HR position, even though she secretly loves that she will be working with a private detective since she has always been interested in that work.
Right away Cormoran is impressed with Robin’s intellect and she seems more than qualified to do secretarial work so he bounces ideas and theories off of her when a new case comes in through the door that looks to provide way more money than the cheating spouses cases he is usually involved in. A famous model, Lulu Landry, has died after falling from her apartment balcony. It has been ruled a suicide but her brother believes she was murdered. Since the police will no longer listen to him, he seeks out Cormoran’s help.
The novel jumps into the action almost immediately. The backstories of Cormoran and Robin are slowly introduced over time as the plot moves along. These two characters are entertaining together as they try to figure out how to work together. Robin admires Cormoran but also finds that he drives her crazy she she assumes that he only sees her as a temporary secretary, when she wishes he would see her as an assistant detective. She gets these mixed messages from when he asks if he can come help her get some information out of some shop girls that saw Landry days before she died. While gossiping with them, she gets more information than they would be willing to give police or private investigators. Then, when he makes mention of her assignment ending soon, Robin gets her feelings hurt. Cormoran isn’t blind to her mood changes and realizes something is up with her, but is unsure what exactly he said that upset her since he does not think that she wants to be a detective like him and assumes she wants to get on to a real job. I liked their interactions and how they figured out how to work together successfully, and also realized they needed to improve their communication with one another.
The character development between the two characters is great and unexpected. I thought the main character would be an archetype and then most of the story would focus on the actual case to be solved, so I was pleasantly surprised by having an interesting case to read about while also caring about the people solving it.
I found the entire novel to be very fun to read and would recommend it. I read it extremely quickly because I had to know who did it and if any of my guesses were correct. My only problem with it was the reveal at the end was presented in a way with Cormoran telling everyone his brilliant theory, but I find it hard for the reader to come to that conclusion without hearing some facts that were left out until that final reveal. I would have loved to have them inserted at some point so the reader could play along being a home detective.