I am reading this for Modern Noir, and it fits that square quite well.
Rowling is have a rollicking good time exploring the various conventions of the mystery novel. The London setting is a strength, and, as always, her characterizations are solid gold. The mystery is less than riveting, but it's engaging enough that I don't really care.
This is the first of the Cormoran Strike novels written by JK Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The story revolves around a beautiful troubled model Lula Landry who one cold snowy winters night falls from the balcony of her penthouse London flat. Was it suicide or was she pushed? Her brother John Bristow is convinced she was murdered and employs the services of Private Investigator Cormoran Strike to uncover the perpetrator.In Cormoran Strike we have a wonderful fictional detective, even his offices with a steel spiral staircase and unfashionable London location has a touch of Philip Marlowe, Chandler's finest creation. Strike is a man who is deeply scared both mentally and physically by his experiences in war torn Afghanistan. His right leg below the knee is missing the result of an improvised explosive device (IED) when he also saved the life of one of his comrades. The pain from his missing limb is a constant reminder of the hell of Helmand province. His childhood was no less traumatic, living in squats with his drug addicted mother Leda and rarely seeing his rock star father Jonny Rokeby
Strike has acquired a new secretary Robin and it soon becomes clear that this highly intelligent woman is a golden asset in the disorganized lifestyle that our PI leads. Although Robin is engaged to the controlling Mathew there is certainly an attraction between this ambitious lady and her older damaged employer. Strike is aware of this danger but he cannot help himself admiring the beauty and intelligence displayed before him..."but having normal sight and an unimpaired libido, he was also reminded every day she bent over the computer monitor that she was a very sexy girl."..
A good crime author will always attempt to shield the identity of the killer until the final chapters and Robert Galbraith is a master of illusion and deception. The reader is taken on a descriptive journey through the beating heart of London where..."its colourful windows displayed a multitudinous mess of life's unnecessities"....and on that journey an eclectic mix of characters is on show including the extravagant camp designer Guy Some...."nearly a foot shorter than Strike and had perhaps a hundredth of his body hair. The front of the designers tight black T-shirt was decorated with hundreds of tiny silver studs which formed an apparently three-dimensional image of Elvis's face"...and Lula's birth mother Marlene Higson..."she was wearing a pink Lycra vest top under a zip-up grey hoodie, and leggings that ended inches above her grey-white ankles. There were grubby flip-flops on her feet and many gold rings on her fingers; her yellow hair, with its inches of greying brown root, was pulled back into a dirty towelling scrunchie".....
I must confess that I have managed to read the 3 books in the series out of order but that has certainly not ruined my enjoyment. The writing is of the highest quality and it has been a great adventure discovering the complicated background of Cormoran Strike and his beautiful assistant Robin. The dynamics of this relationship is something that Galbraith explores in more detail in the later books and it all adds to the excitement of this highly accomplished beautifully written novel.
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