I'm going to be honest here - I hadn't even heard of this book until the Internet went crazy over the reveal that Jo wrote it.
Two things -
a) Jo wrote this
b) It's a whodunit involving a private eye.
So, naturally, I simply HAD to read it.
Somehow, branching out (again) and writing a crime-mystery novel seems natural for Jo (because, come on, who saw that Peter Pettigrew plot twist in PoA coming, amirite?). Not surprisingly, she manages to pull it off with panache. For those of you who have read The Casual Vacancy, after the bleak world of Pagford, it is a pleasure to see Jo's dry wit on paper again. While it is certainly less "adult" than TCV, fair warning - there is still a healthy sprinkling of f-bombs throughout the book (but, honestly, that should hardly matter at this point)
Imposing and, yet, vulnerable at the same time, the bear-like protagonist of the novel, Cormoran Strike, private eye, is immediately likeable. He is exactly opposite to Poirot in appearance but just as sharp when it comes to details. It is such fun to watch him piece together the clues to the murder of one Lula Landry, along with the help of his personal assistant, Robin, who, I might add, is perfectly adorable. The relationship between Strike and Robin is extremely endearing, and can I just say, I ship them SO HARD!
While the plot of the book is not exactly fast-paced, it has enough things happening to keep the reader from getting bored. Fans of Agatha Christie will find nothing new in this novel and, indeed, will have guessed the killer(s) way before the big reveal, but Jo has taken a tried and tested story and turned it into a refreshing read nonetheless, with her trademark writing. The level of detail in each description is amazing and her gift of creating solid, complex characters - as always - astounds. Observe -
“Another minute passed, and then a small black man was suddenly crossing the floor towards Strike, catlike and silent on rubber soles. He walked with an exaggerated swing of his hips, his upper body quite still except for a little counterbalancing sway of the shoulders, his arms almost rigid.
Guy Somé was nearly a foot shorter than Strike and had perhaps a hundredth of his body fat. The front of the designer’s tight black T-shirt was decorated with hundreds of tiny silver studs which formed an apparently three-dimensional image of Elvis’s face, as though his chest were a Pin Art toy. The eye was further confused by the fact that a well-defined six-pack moved underneath the tight Lycra. Somé’s snug gray jeans bore a faint dark pinstripe, and his trainers seemed to be made out of black suede and patent leather.
His face contrasted strangely with his taut, lean body, for it abounded in exaggerated curves: the eyes exophthalmic so that they appeared fishlike, looking out of the sides of his head. The cheeks were round, shining apples and the full-lipped mouth was a wide oval: his small head was almost perfectly spherical. Somé looked as though he had been carved out of soft ebony by a master hand that had grown bored with its own expertise, and started to veer towards the grotesque.
Brilliant. I loved it. Looking forward to the sequel!