Having read and enjoyed The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling last year I thought my holiday in Egypt was time to give her two detective books The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm (written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith) a try. I’m so glad I did – they were really, really good and perfect holiday reading.
They have in common what I like about other excellent contemporary crime fiction (see my blogs on Addiction to crime fiction and Ian Rankin for instance), in that they have a likeable detective whose life is somewhat chaotic, a very real city backdrop and tackle fascinating worlds that you wouldn’t normally get to peak into.
The first book The Cuckoo’s Calling is the story of the death of Lula Landry (great name by the way, as is the name of the private detective Cormoran Strike), a celebrity model living in one of the swankiest parts of London who falls to her death from her balcony on a snowy London night.
It is totally gripping from start to finish as the characters of Cormoran and his assistant Robin Ellacott are developed – thank goodness it’s the first in the series as I want to spend a lot more time with both of them. Their dynamic feels a bit like the one between Donna and Josh in The West Wing. The life of Lula is also really interesting, as the vultures that gather around celebrity and dysfunctional families are both neatly dissected.
I enjoyed The Silkworm less, but simply because you can’t really beat a book like The Cuckoo’s Calling, and because I warmed to the characters around the murder less and was therefore less gripped by finding out who did it. This one is set in the world of publishing and revolves around an author seemingly killed to revenge a literary betrayal. It is very well plotted and the end was certainly unexpected for me.
I’d definitely recommend giving Robert Galbraith a try. The next book in this series can’t come soon enough for me.