This was released on Tuesday. I actually downloaded it on Monday, because I’m currently in the US and so eight hours behind London time, and because my Kindle is still hooked up to Amazon UK, and because I’m really just that much of a fan of anything written by JK Rowling or her alter ego, Robert Galbraith.
This was great. I think it was the best yet of the Robert Galbraith novels, which I put off reading for ages because – well, hype – but which I finally succumbed to at the beginning of this year. For those of you not yet converted, these are written by JK Rowling under a pen name, but they are Not. For. Kids. Seriously. Although they are easy to race through, because of the quality of the writing, subject-matter-wise they are reasonably heavy crime fiction (this one starts with the delivery of a severed leg).
The novels follow the – adventures, except that’s really too benign a word – of Cormoran Strike, private investigator, one-legged Afghanistan veteran, and love child of a rock star and a ‘super-groupie’, and his assistant-cum-work-partner-definitely-just-a-work-partner-nothing-more, green but sharp-as-a-razor Robin Ellacott. Reading about the developing relationship between these two is enormous fun – the characterisation is well-rounded and generally superb, which won’t be a surprise to anybody who’s read Harry Potter.
‘Fun’ is actually an important word here. In the acknowledgements, JK Rowling says she’s never enjoyed writing a novel more than she did this one. She notes that that’s strange, given the subject matter, which is pretty grim. But I sort of get it. It was certainly great fun to read. (I finished it on Wednesday night – reading it in two days of pretty heavy travel, getting out my Kindle whenever my travelling companions did anything like get their phones out, or go to the bathroom.)
This isn’t going to be one of those reviews full of words of the author; it’s not a novel that’s full of quotable quotes. But it’s got a cracking plot that keeps you guessing almost right to the end, a fantastic sense of place (I’ve been in California for two weeks, and it almost made me miss London), and you can’t help but care about the characters. If you need a good old-fashioned crime novel, to read on holiday or on the Tube or really anywhere, then this series is a damn good bet.