This is everything a good detective novel needs to be: smart, intricately plotted, descriptive, full of red herrings, and have at heart a plausible motive with all kinds of quirky characters.
PI Cormoran Strike, missing part of his lower leg as the result of a war injury, is hiding out from creditors and living in his dingy London office after a recent row and split from his longtime girlfriend. Although he has no major pending cases, a staffing agency mistakenly sends a secretary, 25-year-old newly engaged Robin Ellacott, for temporary employment. Despite the catastrophe his life has become, Strike allows that he can use her for maybe a week as he tries to get things together.
Then things change. He gets a wealthy client, John Bristow, who asks Strike to investigate his adopted sister's death. The police and press believe that the supermodel, known for a wild party lifestyle, a romantic liaison with a drug addict, and a history of depression, committed suicide by jumping to her death from her 3rd floor balcony. John thinks Lula was murdered. Strike agrees to look into the circumstances surrounding Lula's death and Robin steps into the role of Gal Friday.
I enjoyed this novel quite a lot for all the good things it was as stated above, but also for what it was not. It was not a gory chiller or a romantic suspense thriller, but a mystery that was unraveled slowly and methodically by a protagonist that I'd like to get to know better. I hope that JK Rowling writes another and makes this a series. This novel, her debut in crime fiction, was both classic and a tribute to others in the same vein such as those works by Agatha Christie, PD James, and Dorothy Sayers.
I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys classic mysteries set in London and written with a voice that actually takes the reader along as Strike tries to figure out the truth for his client instead of merely telling a story.
Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for the ARC to review.