Mystery lovers: have you read any of Robert Galbraith's novels yet? They're so good! Galbraith (a pseudonym for J. K. Rowling...now where have I heard that name before...?) writes a series featuring private investigator Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. Of the three that have been published so far - The Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil - each is better than the last. A fourth book, Lethal White, is expected to be published this year, and Rowling has said that she plans to keep the series going, with perhaps an additional ten books planned.
Strike is an intriguing character. He's a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and lost part of his leg while in service, an injury which Galbraith does not gloss over. He is often in pain and/or preoccupied by it, and on occasion it compromises his ability to do his job. His relationships are messy - his emotionally abusive former fiancé can't be counted on to stay out of his business, he finds his parents (a famous rock star with whom he has no contact and a flower-child groupie, now deceased) profoundly embarrassing, and even the few close friendships he has can become awkward when business bleeds into his private life. He is as intelligent, perceptive, and intuitive as you would expect a good detective to be, but at the same time he can be maddeningly obtuse and even negligent regarding such points as his own safety and well-being.
Enter Robin, a temporary secretary with an interest in detective work and a previously unsuspected talent for it. Despite his initial reluctance to involve her in matters beyond booking appointments and billing clients, Strike is forced to acknowledge that Robin is immensely helpful to him in his work. He doesn't like to lean on anyone, but he finds himself leaning on Robin and becoming a better detective as a result. Strike and Robin form a heisitant partnership, much to the disapproval of her priggish fiance Matthew, who is openly jealous of Strike. The background of friction between Strike and Matthew provides an extra bit of tension to stories that are already deeply disquieting.
In The Cuckoo's Calling, Strike is charged with investigating the death of a fashion model who fell from a balcony - was it accident, suicide, or murder? In The Silkworm Strike's search for a missing writer ends in the discovery of a shockingly horrific crime scene. Which of the many people who detested the man is responsible? Career of Evil opens with Robin receiving a package containing a severed leg - unbelievably, things go downhill from there.
What does Galbraith have in store for us in Lethal White? Time will tell. In the meantime, a BBC series based on the exisiting Strike books will begin airing this June on Cinemax. I will definitely be watching!