So, yesterday I am having lunch with a friend of mine and raving about a new first novel I’m reading. I wrote a post sometime ago bemoaning the fact that there were no British crime novels featuring private detectives other than those set between the wars. Now, here was a book to fill the gap, The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. A hundred pages in I was completely hooked. As I said in my previous post, I read a lot of crime fiction and I know a good ‘un when I meet it. So, it seems to do the reviewers. That’s how I first picked up on it, because the reviews when it was published back in April were universally excellent. Having finally persuaded the library to buy a copy, I find that other writers feel the same way about it. The front cover proclaims Val McDermid’s view that
‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ reminds me why I fell in love with crime fiction in the first place
while Mark Billingham calls Cormoran Strike
One of the most unique and compelling detectives I’ve come across in years.
And, when I finally put the book down last night, now half way through, I was agreeing with them whole-heartedly and hoping that Robert Galbraith was contemplating a very long series.
Well, this morning I would still endorse that view even though I now know that there are two pieces of fiction contained in this book. The second is on the back fly leaf which tells us that
Robert Galbraith is married with two sons. After several years with the Royal Military Police, he was attached to the SIB (Special Investigation Branch), the plain-clothes branch of the RMP. He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry. The idea for protagonist Cormoran Strike grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who have returned to the civilian world. ‘Robert Galbraith’ is a pseudonym.
Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym. Well, you can see why that might be the case. In his line of work he probably wouldn’t want to be identified. Except that this morning’s Sunday Times has revealed that the writer hidden behind the pseudonym is actually J K Rowling.
Now, this was clever – more than that, this was sensible. The novel was reviewed on its own merits. There was no hype, no question of comparison being made, no one was judging the writer, just the book, which is as it should be. And, I repeat, the book, at least the first half, is excellent.
If I have one quibble about this revelation it is that I could wish they had waited a week so that I could have finished the novel without knowing who the writer really was. I would have liked to review it here completely cold. And initially I was worried about the possibility that this would also mean that it was a one off. However, that concern was removed by the last sentence of the newspaper article. Apparently the second novel is already with the publishers.
Anyway, that’s my reading for today laid out. The copy I have is the only one in the Birmingham Library system and by tomorrow morning I would imagine that the reservation list will be running into three figures, so I’d better try and finish it quickly. I hope the publishers have enough ready to deal with the demand.