JK Rowling has a crime winner here


LAST weekend I felt like someone who’d stumbled across a valuable treasure in a second-hand store when I heard it had leaked that JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, had secretly written a crime novel under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Thanks to my trusty Kindle (aptly called a PlayStation for nerds) I could start reading Cuckoo’s Calling the same evening (if you don’t have an e-reader you’ll have to wait a little while as the hard copy is not yet available in South Africa). But come on, do you really believe the author’s identity was accidentally leaked?! Oops, another million for the publisher.

But the book lives up to all the hype.

When a supermodel falls from her balcony one cold winter’s evening everyone is quick to assume it was suicide. But her adoptive brother, who was openly opposed to her relationship with an unsavoury boyfriend, refuses to believe it and enlists the services of private detective Cormoran Strike.

On the face of it Strike is not the best person to investigate the matter. He looks like someone who pulled his clothes out of the laundry basket (because he has), his unpaid accounts are piling up, his life is under threat and he sleeps on a camper bed in his sparsely furnished office because he’s been kicked out by his girlfriend.

But he has one thing that counts in his favour – his sidekick Robin (think Batman and Robin). At first Robin comes across as a bit of an airhead, who’s just got engaged and is only interested in bridal magazines. But it’s always been her dream to work for a detective agency and she soon convinces Strike she’s more than just a stand-in typist.

Don’t expect a thriller in the same vein as a Robert Ludlum or Dan Brown. There’s no running down streets with bullets whistling past the hero’s ears. Strike has a disability so he’d battle to run. Rather expect a book with a clever plot written by someone with an eye for detail – which is what you’d expect from an author of Rowling’s calibre.

Once her identity was revealed reviewers were kicking themselves for not spotting it earlier and have since given detailed clues which point to the fact the book was firstly written by a woman and secondly by JK Rowling. Go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jul/18/cuckoos-calling-robert-galbraith-jk-rowling-review to read more.

Now the big question is whether this is the start of a new series. Some reviewers are sceptical, saying that if the main characters were police detectives it would’ve opened the door for more and more interesting cases. A disabled, insolvent private investigator apparently has limited possibilities.

But if Lee Child could come up with so many interesting murder cases for Jack Reacher, a military policeman on the run who only ever has the clothes on his back, I don’t believe JK Rowling will be stuck for ideas. I hope there are more books in the pipeline because Cormoran and Robin have enriched the world of books.

– Gerda Engelbrecht

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