by Robert Galbraith
Gah! I have been having such a hard time finding time to read lately!
This book, written by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith (my understanding is that she wanted to see if she could write something that would sell without the benefit of her famous name; she could. The book apparently sold very well before the cat was let out of the bag as to the real author) and published in 2013, is a classic private-eye/murder mystery novel.
Private detective Cormoran Strike, Afghanistan war hero and amputee, recently thrown out by his long-time girlfriend and living in his office, is in a bad place personally and professionally. He can’t pay his bills and has no clients to speak of – until John Bristow arrives in his shabby office one day offering Strike a load of money to reinvestigate the death of his super model sister, the famous Lula Landry – “Cuckoo” to her friends – deemed a suicide by the police. Strike is hesitant to take the case because it does appear so clearly to have been suicide, but the promise of sums that might dig him a long way out of the financial hole he’s in convinces him to accept Bristow’s offer. What begins as mostly humoring the dead woman’s brother quickly turns into something else altogether. What really happened that cold, snowy night when the ethereally beautiful and young Miss Landry fell to her death from a fourth story balcony?
As Strike works his way through interviews of relevant witnesses and interested parties, everybody begins to look like a possible suspect; everyone seems to have had a motive to end Lula’s life. The story takes some interesting turns, and although I found the conclusion to be somewhat unlikely, I still found the story to be engaging and enjoyable. There were some holes in the story, I thought, although I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t read it, so I’ll leave it at that.
Rowling/Galbraith does a wonderful job, as always, of creating vivid characters that come to live on the pages. I love that Cormoran Strike is not strikingly handsome nor debonair, but flawed in his physicality and psyche; these qualities make him likeable and real. His assistant, Robin, who literally stumbles into her job with Strike, is also an admirable and integral character.
I’m looking forward to the second installment in this series, The Silkworm.