Cormoran Strike

Created by Robert Galbraith
Pseudonym of J.K. Rowling


“What a really nasty, seedy job you do.”
— a disgruntled woman in Lethal White

Released in April 2013 to generally favourable reviews and a giant yawn from the public, British author Robert Galbraith’s first novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, introduced an intriguing new private eye to the ranks.

Big, hairy CORMORAN STRIKE lost his leg while serving in Afghanistan, and his career back home in London as a private eye isn’t going too well, either. Nobody’s knocking on his door and the phone isn’t ringing.

Not that his personal life is any better — his fiancée has just dumped him, and he’s been reduced to sleeping in his shabby office above a bar. Robin Ellacott, the sharp, idealistic young temp who’s been dispatched to handle his secretarial needs describes him, rather less than charitably, as “sixteen stone… of dishevelled male” and an increasingly morose Cormoran himself reluctantly admits that his life is “bubbling towards catastrophe.”

So when a client comes a-calling, wanting Cormoran to investigate the death a few months earlier of his sister, Lula Landry, a superstar model, the big lug doesn’t say no. Anything to change his luck.

Anything to change his life.

The police have ruled it a suicide, but her brother doesn’t buy it — and after a little poking around, neither does Cormoran.

Even better, though, is the way the battered detective faces the world. It’s a refreshing change from the typical cynical headcases one usually sees — through it all, Cormoran remains at turns compassionate and surprisingly tender, even while he’s serving up a cold, hard look at society and its ills, from the obsession with celebrity to the growing chasm between the haves and have-nots.

As I said, reviews were genrally quite favourable, drawing comparisons to everyone from Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie to George Pelecanos’ Spero Lucas.

Me? I thought the author’s style was reminiscent of Dick Francis‘ clipped but formal prose style, and his stoic but damaged Sid Halley.

Publisher’s Weekly tagged it a “stellar debut” and our pal Duane Swierczynski suggested that “hard-boiled crime fans are going to go cuckoo for this one. I haven’t had this much fun with a detective novel in years.” Similar accolades and blurbs arrived from Booklist, Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Library Journal, Mike Cooper and several others.

Not bad for the first novel in a new series. But the sales weren’t exactly spectacular, and the novel looked like it was going to pretty much disappear down the drain.

Until…  it slipped out in July of the same year that Robert Galbraith was, in fact, a pseudonym of J.K. Rowling (of Harry Potter fame). You might have heard of her.

The story is that Rowling wanted the book judged on its own merits, and given the over-the-top, baying-at-the-moon, mostly toxic reaction to her first mystery, A Casual Vacancy a year earlier (apparently it wasn’t Harry Potter) by her “fans,” can you blame her for hiding behind a pen name?

Evidently some can. The reaction to the discovery that she was using a pseudonym for her second crime novel was swift and surprisingly hostile from some quarters, particularly from the whiny wannabes who can’t quite get it out of their green-tinged heads that the book, besides being limited to muggles, received pretty decent reviews even before the author’s real identity was revealed.

And you have to give it up for Rowlings — she decided to keep the pseudonym going, in a giant fuck you to easily offended. The second book in the series, The Silkworm, came out a year later, followed by Career of Evil in 2015.

All highly recommended. And they all sold well enough that in 2017, a seven-part British television series based on the three books made its debut, starring Tom Burke as Strike and and Holliday Grainger as Robin.

Even better, though, was the in late 2018, she released a fourth book in the series, Lethal White, which is currently being adapted for television.



  • STRIKE | Buy the DVD
    (aka “C.B. Strike”)
    (2017-18, BBC One/Cinemax)
    Seven 60-minute episodes
    Based on the novels by Robert Galbraith
    Writers: Ben Richards, Tom Edge
    Directors: Michael Keillor, Kieron Hawkes
    Starring Tom Burke as CORMORAN STRIKE
    and Holliday Grainger as Robin Ellacott
    Also starring Kerr Logan, Killian Scott, Ben Crompton, Natasha O’Keeffe, Martin Shaw

    • “The Cuckoo’s Calling (Part One)” (August 27, 2017)
    • “The Cuckoo’s Calling (Part Two)” (August 28, 2017)
    • “The Cuckoo’s Calling (Part Three)” (September 3, 2017)
    • “The Silkworm (Part One)” (September 10, 2017)
    • “The Silkworm (Part Two)” (September 17, 2017)
    • “Career of Evil (Part One” (February 25, 2018)
    • “Career of Evil (Part Two” (March 4, 2018)
    • “Lethal White” (TBA)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.



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