London PI Cormoran Strike’s final feud with his arguably insane fiancée leaves him camping in his office, wondering how his last two clients will keep him afloat and pay for his new secretary, Robin. When a childhood acquaintance asks him to investigate his supermodel sister’s apparent suicide, Strike finds a distraction from his problems that’s happily attached to a check. Lula Landry was surrounded by rabid paparazzi, a drug-addled social circle, a dysfunctional adopted family, and a shifty, newly found birth mother, making suicidal despair hard to dismiss. But with Robin’s surprisingly adept assistance, Strike dismantles witness statements, applying masterful deductive skills to find evidence of murder. – Christine Tran

I would guess by now, everybody already knows Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J. K. Rowling. Alright, confession time. I have never liked J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. I gave the first book a chance but gave up after 2 pages. The writing is fine but what done me in was the genre. I just don’t dig fantasy. Don’t crucify me pleaseeee… However, I adore detective procedural and decided to give this a shot.

There are a lot of stuff that I like, but overall I can’t say I have enjoyed it tremendously; more on that later. The characters are well-drawn, especially for Strike and Robin, whose budding relationship opens up many possibilities. Robin’s enthusiasm for sleuthing is contagious and Strike’s proclivity for occasional self-pity feels authentic. Thankfully, Galbraith doesn’t go head deep with it and steers the plot back to the crime readily. The story has the structure of an old-fashioned classic that resembles Agatha Christie’s plots. I appreciate Strike’s reliance on keen deduction and observation, and the whole story comes to a full boil with a torrent of revelations at the end. The story may be straightforward and unambiguous, but I likened that to having a classical feel to it. However, I find the story drowning in overly written descriptions that drag the pace down to a painterly crawl, and because of that suspense and tension are dulled down to a lull. The passages may be well-written and I picked up so much new vocabulary, but I am of the opinion that detective procedurals need to stay focused and the pace fast. If it does slow down, it is because we need to contemplate the new discoveries. Most days I could barely read 30 pages and I only managed to hit over that number as I reached the climax. But I am glad I have finally read a J. K. Rowling.

Right now I am reading Fuminori Nakamura’s The Kingdom and this is exactly how one should write a crime novel with an existential ring to it.