[investigating the dead woman’s movements] “She had an appointment at home with a make-up artist she knew, and her friend Ciara Porter joined her there. You’ll have seen Ciara Porter, she’s a model. Very blonde. They were photographed together as angels, you probably saw it: naked except for handbags and wings. Somé used the picture in his advertising campaign after Lula died….”
Midnight found Strike drinking a can of lager and reading about the posthumous controversy that Bristow had mentioned, of which he had been vaguely aware while it unfolded, without being very interested. A furore had sprung up, a week after the inquest had returned a verdict of suicide, around the advertising shot for the wares of designer Guy Somé. It featured two models ... Both wore huge curving angel’s wings…
Strike stared at the picture for minutes, trying to analyse precisely why the dead girl’s face drew the eye so irresistibly, how she managed to dominate the picture…
observations: So the big question is, of course, would you have known it was JK Rowling writing this is you hadn’t been told? I don’t think I would have known for a moment (despite all the classical tags – Classics was Rowlings’ subject, and Latin resonates through the Harry Potter books): but I’m pretty certain I would have thought it a very unlikely book to have been written by a man. About three-quarters of it is written from a male POV, and that seems to be done very well, no complaints – but the bits about women and their interactions and clothes are very real and convincing, too much so for most male writers. If anything, I might have thought it was a male/female double, like Nikki French.
And of course once you know – well, the only other famous writer with the initials JK is the economist JK Galbraith.
And is it good? Yes, it’s excellent – not perfect, but highly enjoyable. It’s very traditional: someone is dead, a member of the family isn’t happy, a private detective is brought in. We happily follow his investigations, which occasionally get bogged down in a bit too much of who was where at exactly what time, and who exactly went into or out of the block of flats. He has a messy personal life, a temporary assistant (who is going to leave the job any minute…. any minute… still there) and a good line in spotting clues. The logistics of the solution are well-worked-out, but defy belief, but that's OK.
The book is set among some very, very rich people, and it is quite entertaining to contemplate that JK Rowling really is that rich, unlike most people who write about that world. She knows whereof she speaks.
There is every sign that this is going to be a series, and that is undoubtedly good news.
There’ll be another entry on the book later.
Rowling's The Casual Vacancy (which we also liked very much) featured on the blog here and here.
The photograph is by Denise Perry – see her website here.