It’s been awhile since I’ve read a murder mystery (no kissing in this book!), but I’d been intrigued about these books by J.K. Rowling written under a pseudonym for awhile. I’ve read all the Harry Potter books, and enjoyed them immensely, so I was curious to see how she would do with the real world. Instead of wizards and magic we are presented with the death of a superstar model, a person who is regarded in society as being elevated above the rest of us mere mortals. Was it a suicide, as the police believed, or was it something more sinister?
The plot of this book has been used many times in television police procedurals, in movies and in books – someone is dead and a private detective is hired to figure out what happened because the police haven’t managed to do so. In this case, the dead person is Lula Landry and the detective is Cormoran Strike. Lula’s brother is convinced that she didn’t jump out of her apartment window and he hires Cormoran to find out what really happened.
I know that the mystery genre is full of quirky men who solve cases the police can’t – former athletes, former cops, surfer dudes, lawyers and more – and Cormoran falls somewhat into that mold. He’s big and brawny, a former soldier who lost part of his leg in action, and he’s recently broken up with his fiancee (again) and has to camp out in his small office. He’s the illegitimate son of a rock star, whose mother was a groupie that moved around a lot in his childhood. His business is almost at the point of bankruptcy and he has a temp secretary, Robin, that he can barely afford to pay.
The premise of the book sounded interesting – a look at the dark side of the fashion business while Strike delves into Lula’s life, discovering what may have caused Lula’s fall to her death. After all, according to the book blurb: The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man. And yet, it was rather tedious for the most part – too much telling, not enough showing. I didn’t see a lot of sex, drugs and enticement, to be honest.
There were so many characters, and so many interviews with said characters that pulled out bits and pieces of information. We met the neighbors, the security guard, the designer, another one of the models, her boyfriend, and a girl Lula met while in rehab. None of them seemed to have a real motive for murder. I felt that I never really got to know Lula enough to care about why she died. Why was her nickname Cuckoo, after all? In the end, the reveal wasn’t all that earth shattering and I didn’t think the murderer’s motive made much sense. Of course, murder doesn’t always make sense, but still…in light of who killed her, it would have been just as easy to leave it alone.
I liked Cormoran, he was definitely a flawed character who seemed to be kind of a flake at first but you could see along the way that he cared about his work. He’s no Sherlock Holmes, and Robin isn’t Dr Watson, but the two of them worked well together. I see there is now a TV series planned based on the books as well. I wasn’t really picturing Strike as being as sexy as what the actor is:
I was thinking more like this, based on this description: Strike felt abnormally huge and hairy; a woolly mammoth attempting to blend in among capuchin monkeys.
But then, if Tom Cruise can play Jack Reacher, anything is possible!
I gave this a final rate of 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 here (ducking to avoid the rotten tomatoes thrown at me by everyone else that loved this one). At any rate, I have the next book in the series in hand so I’m not giving up on this yet.