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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Definitely weird, but I liked it.
A few weeks ago, I watched Jack and the Cuckoo-clock Heart on Netflix and enjoyed it. I then downloaded the corresponding album by Dionysos and fell in love. So of course I had to track down a copy of the book to make my obsession complete.
Overall, it was a good read. A weird one, but a good one.
The writing is beautiful. Malzieu really creates some magnificent images. I loved his descriptions. They are lovely and grotesque all rolled into one. The book is written in a kind of steampunk-y, Tim Burton-esque way that works well. I liked all the weirdness of the Ghost Train, the historical people that popped up, and of course the concept of a clockwork heart.
Plot-wise, the book was interesting enough. It was fascinating to be along for the ride on Jack's strange adventure. But by the end, I was a bit tired of Jack's love quest. I will say, I much preferred the movie ending to the book ending. The book ending makes everything seem pretty pointless. It is obvious why the ending was changed for the movie.
Other than that, the movie sticks pretty closely to the book. Besides the sex. There is lots of sex stuff, which is much more subtle in the movie.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. The story itself was good and the characters were interesting. But the main reason I liked this book so much was the language used. The writing is simply beautiful. So unique and fantastic. Great imagery.
... and really, is there anything she can't write?
This may not be the most ingenious of plots (supermodel with "issues" falls to her death from the balcony of her high rise apartment; after the police have declared her death a probable suicide and closed the case, her brother shows up at the office of a down-and-out P.I. with a somewhat checkered past and pleads with him to reinvestigate; P.I. has a new temp secretary who gradually and reluctantly becomes his sidekick), but as always, it's all in the execution, and here, Rowling delivers on all fronts; from tone of voice to attitudes to every other aspect that's indispensable to creating well-rounded characters ... and what a cast of characters she's come up with, too. She has an impeccable ear for dialogue, for the snazzy, street-wise language that few mysteries can do without, especially those published today -- all the more those set, like this one, in the demi-monde of fashion, film, rock (music, meth / cocaine, and whisky-on-the), modeling, moguls, and money both old and new -- and for endowing her characters with entirely credible human emotions. All of her characters, that is, regardless how important they are to the story. Even today, there are few mystery writers who manage that sort of feat.
And honestly, can you possibly think of a greater name for a protagonist, a run-down P.I. at that, than Cormoran Strike?
Count me in for book 2 of the series soon -- I wonder what took me so long to get to it in the first place.
Oh, and never mind that she published this under a male pen name (nice try, Joanne) ... the cat was out of the bag within weeks, if not days IIRC, and I am SO counting this book towards the "R" square of the Women Writers Bingo / Challenge.