Author: Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling), 2014.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Mystery. Detective Fiction.
Other Details: Hardback. 455 pages.
When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him. And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before . . . - synopsis from author's website.
J. K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith has produced another old-fashioned detective novel that proved a very effective mystery laced with a degree of satire aimed at the insular world of literary publishing. As one character observes: "...Writers are a savage breed, Mr. Strike. If you want life-long friendship and selfless camaraderie, join the army and learn to kill. If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels."
Rowling's chapter epigraphs are taken from Jacobean revenge tragedies and some characters also have a background in the academic study of the same. So alongside Cormoran as the down-on-his-heels gum shoe that harks back to the pulp fiction of the 1930s, there is this interesting sub-text that resonates with this older literary tradition.
Rowling is known for creating vivid characters as well as telling compelling stories. I have come to love Cormoran and Robin both individually and as working partners. There is a tension between them and yet also a growing trust; along with a hint of sexual attraction, though it is understated. In addition, Rowling does a splendid job in depicting London during the snow bound winter of 2010. It is one of those novel's in which you feel as though you are walking the streets alongside the characters.
In all a very enjoyable summer read. I borrowed this in hardback from the library but will no doubt buy when in paperback as I have the first book The Cuckoo's Calling. I am so pleased that Rowling has confirmed that she will continue with this series.