2345 pages of Galbraith/ Rowling excellence. Here is the series review so far of the amazingly written Cormoran Strike Novels – A crime series with depth, mystery and heart.
So I’ve just noticed the books are not in the right order above. Stupid me. Ha! First we have The cuckoo’s calling, followed by The Silkworm, then Career of Evil, and finally, so far, Lethal White. This will be a series review, if you’d like to read the individual reviews for each book, click on the links imbedded in the titles above so you can have have a read of them. 🙂
So what are these books about? Who is Cormoran Strike? Well, Strike is a private detective working in London. He’s, like many of Rowling’s (Pen name Robert Galbraith) wonderfully written characters, truly flawed, and comes with many traits we as readers can relate to.
Each book is centred around a different case, generally containing some sort of murder, as many crime books are I’m sure. Each case more challenging than the previous, and each book delving deeper into both the characters of Cormoran and his partner Robin, a young lady who aspires to be like Strike himself, a detective.
But I’m not here to talk about each book individually. I’m here to review the series, so far, as a whole, and why I love it so much. Firstly, and it’s something that crops up in many of my reviews, are the character development. Rowling is an absolute master when it comes to character. They are so well fleshed out, and so believably flawed and motivated in their own right you can’t help but get lost with them, almost to the point where you also know them.
In fact at one point during Lethal White, my mum turned to me and asked me why I was so miserable. ‘What’s the matter with you?’ she asked. It took a moment for me to really understand why she was asking me this. I was actually feeling bad for a fictitious person! It was as though my subconscious had genuinely made me believed I had come to know the characters, almost to the point where their problems had become my own. ‘Oh,’ I said, ‘it’s stupid really. I just found out that Robin…’ …But I won’t spoil it for you.
I had picked up the first three novels in a charity shop for five quid. An absolute bargain for what I was getting myself into. In fact I was almost gutted with the fourth book (which was far too new) as it was not yet a paperback to match my appropriately worn charity books. But the main reason would always come down to J.K. Rowling. The woman is a goddess to me. She’s unremarkably talented, and it overjoys me to know I live in a time where she exists, where I can follow her work with her, hoping one day she may in fact read this. You never know.
With The Cuckoo’s calling, it was a great introduction to this new world I would be immersing myself. It was familiar, being set in London, and it was nice to read something non fantasy for a change, exploring the ripeness of a detective’s life, experienced through both a professional (Strike) and a novice (Robin).
The Silkworm took a much darker turn in the series, as is with the Potter books, which was interesting as it gave a first hand glimpse into the publishing world and those who are affected by it, and how, what would seem a relatively innocent industry, is still crawling with controversy, danger and poisonous motivation.
Career of Evil dims the lights even more, exploring character backstory magnificently, and shaving off Strike and Robins otherwise strengths to reveal their intimacies and their weaknesses, raising the stakes and tightening the tension, splattered with violence that is just far more intimate than the previous novels.
Finally with Lethal White, the currently latest novel in the series, the book takes a much more political turn, doing away with the dark dingy areas of the London setting and settling more into an upper class elitist (though dangerous and scandalous) world of parliament, exploring many themes of misogyny, supremacy and right and left wing rivalry.
So what should you expect from the Strike series? Firstly, and it’s not for everyone, the series has LOADS of dialogue. For me, I love this in novels. I love the back and forth exposition of characters, and though the series starts with little cruciality, the need to gather information and piece together the clues of each case in each novel gets ever more complex and rewarding.
Characters, arcs, motives and severities come flying at you from every direction throughout Strike and Robin’s journey, and this all increases more so as the series progresses. The books are also a great opportunity to get stuck into characters you just can’t dislike: characters with flaws, problems, realism and heart, regardless of their roles within the books.
The series is pretty long I’ll grant you that. Totally, I got through the series within a month, though had I not pushed myself (me being quite a slow reader) I know it could have taken me longer. But it was nothing to do with the books themselves. I just so happen to be a time taker when it comes to getting through pages. So don’t expect any super exciting loud explosiveness in each chapter. These books are thorough, provoking and intelligent, and they demand your concentration and attention all the way through, so for me, someone who has until recently, grown up with Harry Potter and the like, this was a new, exciting and challenging experience.
All in all, I’d give this series a 5 star. Truly, I don’t know how to fault it. And even the bits I didn’t like: the lack of pace here and there, the pages upon pages of single conversations, they were nothing compared to the richness, complexity and sheer competence displayed in one woman’s extraordinary gift of delivering her readers characters we love and admire, and stories we wish, despite their violence and conflict, were tangible and real.
Thank you J.K. Rowling for giving me this opportunity to admire the words you bring to us, and the magic you cast upon our lives. Cormoran and Robin will forever stay with me.
“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” – Dumbledore