By now we all know that JK Rowling wrote a secret book under the name Robert Galbraith. My fiancé (can I use that word without sounding like a total tool?) read out the news to me from his twitter and I immediately dragged him to the bookstore to find it. We were greeted by a 2-book sized hole on the shelf where the 2 copies of The Cuckoo’s Calling had sat until that morning when store employees were greeted with a line of people who had read the news earlier than me.
After looking into things a little bit, I realized that I was in for at least a 10-day wait while the publisher set up another print run. But here’s where I got sneaky. I could have ordered it in store from Chapters, or even online via Chapters. I chose bookdepository.com, the UK-based online book retailer. Not only did I get it sooner than the rest of the Lower Mainland, it was also discounted.
In all seriousness, I could not have acted a bigger dork when I picked that book up from the post office.
I believe that I disclosed this when I posted about The Casual Vacancy, but I love JK Rowling. She’s my literary idol. I’m not totally sure how objective I am able to be when it comes to her writing. I really enjoyed The Casual Vacancy! The ending! So many feelings. Obviously, it was not Harry Potter, but I think that was kind of the point.
Anyway. As Robert Galbraith, Rowling had the chance to be judged purely on her (superior) writing talents. And from what I’ve read, reviews were generally positive. However, without the name, the book didn’t sell. Conundrum. (How smug would you be if you were one of the few that had read it when you thought it was just some unknown author?) Then the lawyers talked and we were treated to a surprise Rowling book. The author herself is, understandably, rather piqued about the whole thing. I’m sure she enjoyed the freedom to write without Harry Potter dogging her. I’m not sure we’d have a chance at a second Cormoran Strike (there she goes with those fabulous names again) novel if Rowling hadn’t been unveiled though.
And that. Would be a shame.
So Cormoran Strike is an Afghan war vet who is missing one leg and has started his own private detective business. It’s not going well. His girlfriend has just run out on him, he has no place to live and he can barely afford to pay the temp, Robin, that has shown up for a week’s work.
Then the brother of a dead supermodel shows up asking Strike to look into the mystery surrounding her apparent suicide and things start to look up. The brother agrees to pay double the normal rates and it turns out Robin the temp is not only an admin superstar but she has always secretly dreamed of being a private detective. Given the chance, they’d probably make a formidable team.
We all know that I love crime fiction and this one is excellent example of its genre. Not as twisted or sick as some of the Scandinavians (they are messed up) but it definitely kept me guessing. Rowling really has a knack for creating brilliant characters and she does the same in The Cuckoo’s Calling – even peripheral characters like Robin’s fiancé and Strike’s sister Lucy have backstories and personalities that jump out at you.
I think we’re all just going to have to face the fact that JK Rowling is just a very talented writer, no matter the genre.