Under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, literary powerhouse J.K. Rowling has crafted the Cormoran Strike Series, an engrossing new crime fiction series. The Cormoran Strike novels follow war veteran turned private detective Cormoran Strike as he solves sinister murders that have left the authorities stumped. J.K. Rowling brings her extraordinary talents for plotting, suspense and characterization to these compelling murder mysteries for adults.
Writing as Robert Galbraith has allowed Rowling to explore darker themes and moral ambiguity beyond her beloved Harry Potter children’s books. The Cormoran Strike series provides ingenious detective plot twists combined with in-depth character studies and incisive social commentary. Rowling’s flair for storytelling and gift for spinning elaborate red herrings are on full display throughout the binge-worthy series.
At the heart of the novels is the formidable yet fallible fictional detective Cormoran Strike, a grizzled private eye who lost part of his leg serving in Afghanistan. Strike has a knack for getting to the truth of high-profile cases through dogged persistence and his deep understanding of human nature. Rowling has crafted in Cormoran Strike a gritty, wholly original detective with a mysterious past and strict personal code.
Cormoran Strike is aided in his investigations by Robin Ellacott, who begins as his temporary assistant but becomes an equal partner in detection and in life. Their platonic professional partnership, fraught with escalating personal tensions, forms the emotional core of the series. J K Rowling excels at charting the evolution of the duo’s relationship, from Robin’s uncertain beginnings to her growth into a skilled sleuth in her own right.
The Cormoran Strike Series by Robert Galbraith
The Cuckoo’s Calling (2013)
The series launches with celebrity supermodel Lula Landry’s puzzling plunge to her death in central London. Lula’s skeptical brother hires Cormoran Strike to probe whether troubled Lula committed suicide or was in fact murdered. Strike, aided by rookie assistant Robin, soon uncovers a nest of secrets and lies surrounding Lula’s tumultuous life.
A cavalcade of potential suspects emerges, from Lula’s rockstar boyfriend to her manipulative adoptive brother. Red herrings abound throughout the investigation, showcasing Rowling’s ingenuity with intricate, multilayered plotting. In the end, Strike exposes the shocking identity of Lula’s true killer in dramatic fashion. Rowling provides an incisive look at the dark side of fame and privilege along with an absorbing whodunit.
The Silkworm (2014)
In the second addictive installment, the wife of loathed novelist Owen Quine fears her husband has gone missing. She enlists Strike to find him, but Quine is soon gruesomely murdered. It emerges that Quine had penned a salacious exposé targeting nearly everyone in his life. With suspects galore, Strike and Robin navigate the cutthroat London literary scene to uncover which scorned individual committed murder to keep Quine’s damaging opus suppressed.
With plenty of devious twists, Rowling delivers a fun satire skewering the publishing industry, fame-hungry authors and vapid celebrity culture. Strike himself goes from hunter to prey as someone begins poisoning him while he investigates the case.
Career of Evil (2015)
A psychotic serial killer with a vendetta against Strike launches a sadistic campaign, murdering women and mailing their severed body parts to Strike’s office. To stop the diabolical murderer, Strike and Robin must dredge up Strike’s murky past and complicated relationships with ex-lovers and army comrades.
With more graphic violence and unsettling darkness than previous entries, Career of Evil explores misogyny and trauma. Rowling taps into primal terror with skill, while showcasing her impressive range. Red herrings and stunning plot twists abound throughout Strike and Robin’s high-stakes race to unmask the merciless killer.
Lethal White (2018)
When a mentally troubled young man named Billy visits Cormoran Strike’s private detective office seeking help investigating a childhood crime he witnessed, Strike is unsettled yet compelled. Billy cannot remember concrete details and flees in a panic before Strike can question him further.
To unravel Billy’s story, Strike and his partner Robin Ellacott trace a complex trail through London’s underworld and elite circles. They wind up at a luxurious countryside manor harboring sinister secrets. As Strike delves deeper, his fame as a detective complicates his ability to operate out of the public eye.
Meanwhile, Strike’s strictly professional relationship with Robin grows fraught with escalating personal tensions. Their friendship is tested as Robin proves herself an invaluable partner in Strike’s agency while their romantic dynamic remains tricky to navigate.
Lethal White provides an addictive mystery laced with glimpses into Strike and Robin’s tumultuous personal lives. Their twisting investigation ultimately exposes murderous corruption at the highest echelons of power.
Troubled Blood (2020)
Private detective Cormoran Strike takes on a cold case from 1974 when he is approached by a woman in Cornwall who wants help finding her mother, Margot Bamborough, who mysteriously disappeared decades ago. Strike sees the challenge in solving such an old missing persons case but agrees to investigate along with his partner Robin Ellacott.
As Strike and Robin delve deeper into Margot’s background and the circumstances around her vanishing, they discover multiple intriguing leads including tarot cards, an unidentified psychopathic serial killer, and witnesses whose testimonies are uncertain. The case proves to be highly complex with layers of deception.
While combating personal issues of their own, Strike and Robin work tirelessly to uncover what really happened to Margot Bamborough over 40 years ago. However, they come to find that even cold cases from the distant past can still harbor dangerous secrets and threaten serious consequences in the present. It’s a complex mystery that draws the detectives into a tangled web of lies and danger.
The Ink Black Heart (2022)
In the most recent white-knuckle installment, Strike is hired to investigate the grisly murder of outspoken online cartoonist Edie Ledwell. Edie was stabbed through the heart, with her own viral animated series implicated, as it featured a murderous femme fatale.
Suspects include both real-life individuals satirized in Edie’s provocative cartoons and overzealous “superfans.” As Strike contends with personal turmoil, Robin goes undercover in the wild world of internet fandom to unmask the killer. With themes of social media fame and obsession, The Ink Black Heart showcases Rowling’s ability to seamlessly blend incisive cultural analysis with shocking twists.
The Running Grave (2023)
In the seventh book of the Strike series, Cormoran and Robin are tasked with rescuing a guy who has been trapped inside the grasp of a sinister cult. When a father pleads for Cormoran Strike’s help rescuing his son Will from a cult called the Universal Humanitarian Church, Strike learns the supposedly peaceful organization has dangerous extremist undercurrents and unexplained deaths haunting its past.
To extricate Will, Strike’s partner Robin Ellacott goes undercover among the cult’s members in rural Norfolk. Though initially benign on the surface, Robin soon discovers the Church harbors sinister secrets beneath its virtuous veneer. As she lives incognito with the cultists, Robin confronts escalating hazards that test her physically and emotionally.
Meanwhile, Strike deals with disruptions to his personal life and business. This epic seventh installment propels Strike and Robin’s ongoing partnership and rocky romantic entanglements forward with high stakes.
The Running Grave promises to be Robert Galbraith’s most unputdownable book yet. Cormoran and Robin’s courage and detective skills are pushed to the limit in this white-knuckle story of extraction and survival.
With her superbly crafted Cormoran Strike series written under Galbraith’s name, J.K. Rowling has firmly established herself as a virtuoso of adult crime fiction. She blends taut, twist-filled mysteries with indelible character studies and sociocultural insight. These compulsively readable murder mysteries offer irrefutable evidence that Rowling’s storytelling talents extend far beyond the wizarding world.