Like most people who follow publishing I was surprised and impressed when Robert Galbraith was revealed to actually be JK Rowling. Like the old stories of the prince consorting with the commoners, I found it fascinating, and immensely admirable, that JK Rowling chose to release her hard work under a pen name. This ensured that the book would stand on its own. And it did well on its own. While I would have been interested to see the reveal happen later, so that the books could have further developed their own following, that was not to be. Ms. Rowling was unmasked, and the first book leaped to the top of the bestseller lists overnight.
But I will argue that, while wholly unlike Harry Potter in any way, these books are good. As a writer, I give props to anyone who can pull off a good whodunit. It is a task that is definitely easier said than done. And I LOVE a good mystery. The girl in me who first feel in love with reading because of Nancy Drew and her pesky meddling needs to be sated every once in a while with a good mystery. And these books provide that. As a reader, too, it can sometimes be difficult to find a mystery that both holds your attention and doesn’t seem wildly unrealistic. I read the three Galbraith books that are out now back to back, and can’t wait for the next book.
I would also say that I enjoyed each book more than the last. It is exciting to see an author of Ms. Rowling’s stature growing as a writer. It gives the rest of us hope, right, if a writer who’s wildly successful and famous can also still conquer new territory? And these books DO get progressively better. The hero and heroine of the book are fascinating, with troubled pasts, and their relationship as detective and budding detective is strong. I like these characters, and want them to succeed. I want to see what happens next with them. This isn’t always the case, especially with mysteries.
I recently read The Silent Girls by Erik Rikstad. While interesting enough, I would not recommend this book. The main character seemed more of a caricature of a detective than a believable detective. He makes a decision part way through the book that was so unbelievable, and so out of character, that I was literally rolling my eyes. You can see the strings too clearly, ya know? Having jus finished another similar book, I am actually even contemplating a post on mysteries that DON’T work, and why. Which is why I felt compelled to recommend the Galbraith series.
Galbraith/Rowling effectively keeps me guessing til the end, and there are constant surprises that I am willing to GO with. Which, to me, is the mark of an adept, intelligent hand behind the prose. I highly recommend this series for lovers of mystery, suspense, and crime fiction.