Saturday, November 23, 2013

Book 100: The Cuckoo's Calling

Once I heard that J.K. Rowling had published this under a pseudonym, I knew I had to read it.  Admittedly, that sounds odd since I still haven't read The Casual Vacancy (I really like Harry Potter, but I wasn't sure if wanted to read about a small English town, even though I read those kind of novels all the time; I guess I was just afraid of being disappointed), but this one just sounded fun.  I love mysteries, and hopefully this is the beginning of another series.

Cormoran Striker, a veteran of the British campaign in Afghanistan, decided to use his military background as an investigator to open up his own PI office after losing his leg and leaving the military.  As the novel begins, he is very close to losing everything.  He and his long term on-again, off-again fiancee have broken up and he has resorted to living in his office that he will probably soon lose as well.  Even though he is broke, the temp agency sends him another secretary, so now he has yet another bill to worry about.  Robin, the new secretary, just got engaged, and has several interviews for more permanent jobs lined up.  In other words, things are looking very well for her, but she is very excited about the idea of helping solve cases so she is a bit disappointed when confronted with Strike.

However, Strike soon gets a very well paying client in the form of John Bristow who wants Strike to look into the suicide of his sister, famous super model Lula Landry.  John disagrees with the police investigation and believes there was foul play involved.  Though hesitant to take the case and take advantage of Bristow, Strike agrees to look into it, and soon Robin and Strike are deep into the world of the rich and famous as well as Landry and Bristow's complicated family history.

Being used to Rowling as the author of the Harry Potter series, there were one or two small scenes that surprised me, only because they were very adult.  I enjoyed the developing working relationship between Robin and Strike, and the slow revelations about the characters and the case.  Strike is constantly surprised by Robin's competence after his previous experience with the temp agency, and she adds quite a bit of professionalism to the office, helping him make a good impression on potential and current clients.  Additionally, as curious as Robin is about Strike's background, she refrains from directly asking him, though she does indulge in the occasional Google search about his famous father.  I also thought Lula's world was well developed, and Strike is set up very well as a fish out of water in the fashion industry during his investigation.  I hope that Rowling explores the world of the PI more, and that is the beginning of another successful series for her rather than a stand-alone novel.

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