As the entire world knows by now, Robert Galbraith is actually a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books.
I was pleased when this one came up for the book group, as I’m unashamedly a fan of the Harry Potter series and of crime fiction.
With Harry Potter, I’ll admit to being one of those people who started out a bit snobby about adults reading kids books. I only started reading them because we were covering the BBC’s Big Read top 100 in the book group. It didn’t take me long to get hooked though.
While I never quite reached the level of queuing up overnight for the new ones as they came out, I did buy the last couple on the first day.
So I was keen to read Rowling’s take on a genre I’ve always enjoyed. Overall I wasn’t disappointed. Red herrings, clues and complex plots abound in the Potter books and that carries over well into a crime story – think of how we’re led to believe Snape is the villain of the first book, or the mystery of who opened the Chamber of Secrets. As with the Potter books, the writing style is simple and keeps you turning pages, and characters are well developed.
Despite the modern setting, it’s an old fashioned mystery in the Agatha Christie tradition. A large cast of characters is assembled and explored, all with some motive to be the killer, until the detective finally confronts the true villain with an exposition of his findings. That’s not necessarily a criticism – part of the pleasure of reading a book like this is in trying to figure out the clues for yourself.
It’s not perfect. The killer’s motive – and motive for kicking off the story – are the weakest part of the book, which leads to the ending feeling like an anti-climax. Despite being a quick read, it could also have been shorter. While it was necessary in Harry Potter to describe the magical world in detail, it’s not needed in a real world setting.
Overall I enjoyed it and I’d describe it as a strong second division crime novel. It’s not in the Premier league of, say, a Michael Connelly, but it’s a good take on the genre and I’ll be interested to see how the series develops.in Books