My daughter recommended The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling). It had been on my list for some time, so I finally ordered it.
The Cuckoo's Calling is the first of the Cormoran Strike novels. Cormoran Strike is missing the lower part of one leg, the result of an IED explosion in Afghanistan; is the illegitimate son of a famous rock star and a famous groupie; has just broken up with his long-time, off-and-on, selfish, and manipulative girl friend; and is struggling to keep his P.I. business afloat.
When Robin, a new temp, shows up unexpectedly to serve as his secretary, Strike finds her more than competent, but realizes how temporary her presence will be because he is already behind in his loan payment. Yet, almost as soon as Robin is seated at her desk, a new client walks in and is willing to pay well for Strike to investigate the suicide of his sister Lula Landry, a famous supermodel.
From there, we are off on a twisty investigation with intriguing characters and likable protagonists. The novel is fairly typical in its approach, but then most genres are rarely conspicuously original--most readers expect to recognize certain tropes. What always sets books in any genre apart from others in the same genre (at least for me) is the writing style, the character development, and the verisimilitude of the created world (including minor characters). All of these qualifications in The Cuckoo's Calling satisfied me. I was able to imaginatively settle in with setting and characters and feel present in the story.
Kindle Purchase/Mulholland Books
Mystery/Crime. 2013. Print Length: 561 pages
Thank goodness for the library which had the second book.
I liked this one as much or more than The Cuckoo's Calling because the characters of Cormoran Strike and Robin are expanded, both in present and in background material.
Strike is in a much better position financially after his success in solving the murder of the supermodel in the previous novel. That is not to say that he is making a lot of money, but that he is not in immediate danger of insolvency.
Robin, who loves her job, has turned down a better offer, but her fiance still objects to her working with Strike. Strike's former romantic partner Charlotte Campbell, whose marriage to Jago Ross is imminent, would prefer to lure Strike back into her influence. Both Robin and Strike are going through personal dilemmas involving their relationships outside of the office.
Strike takes on a new case for the wife of an author who has disappeared. Owen Quine has written a manuscript that could expose malicious information about a lot of people involved in the book trade. Even unpublished, the manuscript causes upheaval and fear among authors, publishers, and others associated with Quine.
Again, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. My only complaint is in the elaborately grotesque murder. Without giving a spoiler as to the reason for the depraved method of the murder, I still believe the manner of death could have been less gruesome without having an effect on the plot.
Red herrings, misdirection, and Strike's tendency to keep his suspicions to himself-- keep the reader in the dark about which of the suspects actually committed the murder.
Mystery/Crime. 2014. 455 pages.