Robert Galbraith is J.K Rowling.
Yes, I’m pretty sure we all know that now and I feel safe in the knowledge that I haven’t just broken the internet.
The protagonist of Galbraith’s novels is as about as far removed from a certain boy wizard as it is possible to get. He has a far less prosaic name for a start, but a far more prosaic profession. For a character in a novel, anyhow. Cormoran Strike is a private investigator who, when we first meet him in The Cuckoo’s Calling, is not enjoying much luck. He has just separated from his fiancee, with whom he has had a long and tempestuous relationship, is heavily in debt and has very few clients. Strike isn’t quite what you would call a ‘people person’, something compounded by the difficulties he faces as an amputee (a former soldier, Strike lost a leg during the Afghan War).
Strike is a brilliant character and it is his relationship with his (female) assistant, Robin Ellacott, that really makes this series for me. Robin starts off as the temp that Strike cannot afford. Slowly, he realises the worth of this intelligent, competent young woman and she becomes invaluable in helping him solve cases. Their relationship is beautifully drawn and a scene from the second novel, The Silkworm, in which they are driving on a motorway in bad weather is one of my all-time favourites.
It is the strength of Robin and Cormoran’s relationship, which does have a tantalising ‘will they-won’t they’ element to boot, that is powering my anticipation for the third in the series, Career of Evil (due to be published in the UK on 22nd October by Sphere). However, these novels are also very well written, with compelling plots and intriguing casts of characters. They are very contemporary in flavour, with grisly, complex cases at their heart. There is also a distinct nod to the Golden Age detective story. Both novels have Christie-esque lists of possible suspects and buckets of red herrings. Like Agatha in her prime, Galbraith gives the reader all the clues they need to solve the puzzle: can they work it out before Strike does?
In Career of Evil, Robin receives a mysterious package, only to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Strike identifies four people from his past who could be responsible, taking matters into his own hands when the police focus their enquiries on the one person he is sure couldn’t be the perpetrator. As Robin and Cormoran investigate the lives of three men capable of extreme violence, they face danger and a race against time.
I can’t wait!