I’m not usually into crime fiction but I thought I’d give these a try as I’m a big fan of J.K. Rowling (who isn’t?). In case you didn’t know, after the release of the first Cormoron Strike novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, Galbraith’s real identity of J.K. Rowling was leaked.
J.K. Rowling was awarded substantial damages for the breach from the solicitors that revealed her true identity. Rowling donated the damages, along with the royalties from The Cuckoo’s Calling to The Soldiers’ Charity, a cause that would be close to the main character, Cormoran Strike’s heart.
The Cormoran Strike novels are made up of three crime fiction stories following a private detective and his assistant Robin Ellacott.
The Main Characters
Strike is a private detective and a war veteran. He was an SIB investigator but was discharged after he lost the bottom half of a leg in an explosion in Afghanistan. His mother, who died of a heroin overdose, was a ‘super groupie’ of Jonny Rokeby, Strike’s father. Strike has little to do with his dad though. As a former boxer in the army, he has a large physical presence and what is described as ‘pube like’ hair. He likes his tea the colour of creosote and is partial to a pint of Doom Bar.
Robin is originally from Yorkshire but now lives in London with her accountant Fiancé, Matthew Cunliffe. Robin dropped out of university, for reasons that become clear in the third book, and at the start of the series is working for a temp agency. She was delighted to be placed at Strike’s private detective office and proved herself to be clever, resourceful and pleasant to be around. She is attractive with strawberry blond hair. Her Yorkshire accent becomes more pronounced in times of tension.
Book #1 – The Cuckoo’s Calling
Strike is living in his office after breaking up with his attractive fiancé. He owes money and doesn’t have enough clients to pay the bills or find somewhere to live.
Robin is euphoric after accepting Matthew’s proposal to get married and even more so when the temp agency send her to work at a detective agency, something she’s always longed to do.
The adopted brother of renowned model Luna Landry hires Strike to investigate her supposed suicide. Strike is reluctant to take it on and is sceptical about the brother’s claims but he needs the money—to pay the agency for Robin’s time if nothing else.
Robin proves herself to be invaluable around the office and Strike continues her employment after the week is up, paying her what he can afford. Her fiancé Matthew wants her to stop working for Strike and get a better paid job.
The more Strike looks into Lula Landry’s death the more suspicious the circumstances seem. With Robin’s help he gets his life back into some order while tracking down the killer.
Book #2 – The Silkworm
After solving the Landry case, business has picked up and Strike is hired to find a missing writer Owen Quine. The manuscript Quine was apparently most recently working on ends with him being killed in the same gruesome way in which the writer is eventually found to have been murdered. The novel also attacks Quine’s editor, agent, wife and many others giving us lots of people with motives to kill.
Strike and his assistant Robin’s relationship becomes strained as she feels undervalued in her role. Robin’s fiancé Matthew dislikes Strike (a feeling that is mutual) and this doesn’t help. Strike wants to give Robin more responsibility but is concerned that Matthew won’t like it and he doesn’t want to ruin her relationship.
Together they identify the killer and Strike enrols Robin on an investigative training course as a gift.
Book #3 – Career of Evil
Robin is now working with Strike as an investigator. As Strike had foreseen, this puts strain on her relationship with Matthew, who she is due to marry soon.
Robin receives a woman’s severed leg through the post. The clues lead Strike to believe it was from someone holding a grudge against him.
As Strike and Robin investigate the four main suspects, we find out more about both of their pasts. Robin also finds out Matthew cheated on her whilst at university.
While the pair are tracking down the suspects, the killer strikes twice more and has his eyes on Robin.
The police warn the private investigators to keep away from the suspects and out of the case but Robin takes matters into her own hands to expose a child molester. Strike has no option but to fire Robin. He knows who the killer is now but has to prove it alone.
These books are hard to put down with gripping plots and characters you just want to find out more about. Five stars from me.