Rowling has written an engaging and tightly plotted mystery. The characters are well delineated and clearly drawn. I was especially impressed by how “true” the characters remained to themselves as the plot thickened (when I thought this was a debut novel). The situations with the paparazzi were interesting in retrospect as I wondered how much her own experience with the press and fans influenced her depiction of them.
We learn enough about Rowling’s damaged detective, Cormoran Strike, to like him and want to know more in succeeding installments of this obvious first in a series. His backstory with military service, marriage/divorce and law enforcement “friends” offer opportunity for additional story/plot nuggets for the future. His Girl Friday, Robin Ellacott, is intelligent and a worthy foil to Strike, although the boyfriend/fiancé is unknowable and likely to quickly disappear from the scene.
I liked that both entirely likeable and entirely unlikeable characters played a part in the plotting. There are several clear candidates for the villain and plenty of red herrings along the way. The ending is always in doubt until the final chapters. It is testament to Rowling’s ability that Lula, who is already dead when she first appears in the tale, emerges in totality even without the benefit of including “back flashes” as the book proceeds.
I hope that Rowling continues writing mysteries with Cormoran and Robin in many future novels.