I don’t normally read mysteries, although I do watch them on TV, strangely. I obviously knew who the book was actually written by, and I’d kind of avoided it for that reason, but it got enough praise I thought I would give it a go. Glad I did.
I was pulled into the story very quickly by our unorthodox introduction to the two main characters. They’re both nicely drawn and well rounded, even if they do fill somewhat stereotypical roles. Cormoran is a private detective, and Robin is a secretarial temp, though she quickly turns out to be doing a lot more than usual duties.
Stereotypes are something of a theme, with many of the characters appearing to simply tick boxes for their various roles, whether it be solicitors or fashion designers, supermodels or policemen. I don’t think this is generally a bad thing, because these people have become stereotypes for a reason. It also acts as shorthand for the numerous characters we meet. They’re kept from being cardboard cut-outs because each is given a slight spin to keep it fresh.
I’m usually fairly good at reading the signs, but was kept guessing until the end, which is all you can ask from a mystery. The spotlight switched between various people during the story too. Thankfully we didn’t get a Poirot/Marple-esque summing up with all of the possible perpetrators, but there is a long scene where Strike gets to show off, something that felt a little too staged.
There were a few jarring moments when the veil of reality was rumpled a little too much as well, but these were few and far between.
As for the presentation, Robert Glenister does a great job of bringing the characters to life, along with subtle accents.
A good read, an interesting story, a complex and ruthless villain, which we’re led through by a pair of rounded protagonists. There’s already another book in the series and I wouldn’t hesitate in picking it up.
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Reviewed: 30th October 2014