I’d been low key wanting to read the Robert Galbraith mystery books ever since it was revealed that they were written by J.K. Rowling. I finally started them and then I couldn’t stop. I’ve listened to the four books on audio one after the other. Here’s why I think you should read them.
Cormoran is an ex-Army investigator who lost a leg in an IED explosion. He is now a private investigator whose firm is failing. When the first book starts he is breaking up with his toxic on again off again girlfriend of 16 years. He’s also the illegitimate (and unrecognized) son of a major rock star and a famous groupie. He grew up shuttling between a stable life with his aunt and uncle and a peripatetic life with his drug addicted mother.
Robin is new to London and newly engaged. She is working at a temp agency who sends her to Cormoran’s firm for a week. He forgot he signed up for a temp and can’t afford her but she makes herself too useful to get rid of.
Rowling is also still great at secondary characters. Each person is unique and has a well thought out backstory. They aren’t just a stock bad guy or witness.
Much like the Harry Potter books there is way more detail in these books than you actually need. I think this is a good thing but I’ve seen some people complain about it. I think if you are used to very spare mystery writing this will seem excessive. There are definitely lots of red herrings and clues that never develop into anything just like it would be in real life. Not everything is important to the story line. That makes these books pretty long but I like that. I like exploring the world that she is making and I don’t want them to be over quickly.
There is a TV show (if you like that sort of thing)
There is a film adaptation of the first three books. The first book is three one hour episodes and the rest are two episodes. I find them frustrating. I think the main characters are well done but everything is so condensed. Secondary characters are dropped. Secrets that are hours in the teasing out on the audiobook are dropped casually in exposition.
I watched The Cuckoo’s Calling and the first hour of The Silkworm.
Everything you ever wanted to know about London transportation
Transportation is a major consideration in these stories. That amuses me for some reason. They are always running around the city but instead of just saying they went here and suddenly they are there, transportation problems are factored in. The Underground is always used because they can’t afford cabs. The time it takes to get anywhere is always discussed. Having to walk far between public transit stops is a problem because Cormoran’s stump hurts and he has multiple untreated injuries during the series that make walking more and more problematic.
What I’d like to see next
I’d love to see his father need his help. Cormoran has met his famous father twice and neither time went well. He has a little bit of a relationship with his father’s other children. I want to see someone in the family get into trouble and need to come to him to sort it out. Then he’d have to dive into all the family secrets and relationships whether they want him to or not.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think?
When an intricate old map is found stuffed into the walls of the bistro in Three Pines, it at first seems no more than a curiosity. But the closer the villagers look, the stranger it becomes.
Given to Armand Gamache as a gift the first day of his new job, the map eventually leads him to shattering secrets. To an old friend and older adversary. It leads the former Chief of Homicide for the Sûreté du Québec to places even he is afraid to go but must.
And there he finds four young cadets in the Sûreté academy, and a dead professor. And, with the body, a copy of the old, odd map.
I had never heard of this detective series until BEA 2016 when Louise Penny was one of the speakers at the adult breakfast. This is the twelfth book in the series. Normally I would never start a series in the middle but I had a copy of the book so I decided to try it.
This seems like a good place for new readers to start. From what I gathered from the text, the detective at the heart of the story had investigated police corruption. After this investigation, a lot of high ranking people were arrested. The detective retired from the police. Now he is taking an interim job as the director of the police academy. He knows that a lot of students are coming out of the school predisposed to brutal conduct. He wants to change the culture of the training.
You don’t need to know much about what happened before to enjoy this book. What you need is explained in the text. The detective lives in a small town that is not on any maps. An old map of his town is found in a wall in a local shop. It has a lot of strange pictures on it. As an exercise, he gives a few cadets copies of the map and asks them to figure out the mystery behind it. Then his major suspect for teaching police misconduct is murdered and a copy of the map is in his nightstand. The detective thinks someone is trying to frame one of the students – a girl whom he admitted to the school after she was previously turned away.
There are several mysteries explored in this book. Who killed the professor? Why did the new director admit this girl to the school? Why isn’t the town of Three Pines on any official maps? Who made the one map it is on?
This book is set in Quebec City and the surrounding countryside. I haven’t read many books set in Quebec. The author lives there and her love for the community and culture comes through.
I’d recommend this book for anyone who like police stories and mysteries. It was interesting enough that I will pick up future books. I probably won’t go backwards because reading this one does tell you what happened in the previous books.
About Louise Penny
She lives with her husband, Michael, and a golden retriever named Trudy, in a small village south of Montreal.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
“Two nights ago, a young woman brought her husband into the emergency room of the Sriphat Hospital in Thailand, where he passed away. A guard thinks she remembers her coming in before, but with a different husband – one who also died. Ladarat Patalung, for one, would have been happier without a serial murderer-if there is one — loose in her hospital. Then again, she never expected to be a detective in the first place. And now, Ladarat has no choice but to investigate…”
Ladarat Patalung is a nurse ethicist at a hospital in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand. When a police detective asks for her help in searching records to see if this woman has brought other men to the hospital, she finds herself falling in love with the idea of being a detective.
Her life has been stagnant. She was widowed twelve years ago after just a few years of marriage. Her life revolves around her job and her cat. Now she is being proactive and getting involved in the lives of people around her.
It becomes obvious very quickly that this book is written by a Western man for an intended audience who is not familiar with Thai culture. Terms that would be easily recognized by a Thai audience are painstakingly defined. The author has spent a lot of time in Thailand and has done a lot of research but it does distance the reader from the story. He works all this detail in by having Ladarat contemplate everything around her very deeply. It makes her come off as a very cerebral and unemotional character who is always partially removed from the people and circumstances around her.
I love the premise of the main mystery. Why does a woman bring in a second dead husband a few months after her last one died? That’s what made me interested in the book. I also haven’t read many books set in Thailand. However, there are several other plots in this book and sometimes that mystery gets forgotten for a while. There is the story of an American man who is injured while on his honeymoon. This serves to set up discussions on American versus Thai responses to health care and crises. There is also a mystery man hanging out in the waiting room who never speaks to anyone. Ladarat is charged with getting rid of him because there is an inspection of her hospital in a few days and the administration doesn’t want homeless people hanging around.
I did learn about Thai culture and attitudes while reading this book. I’d recommend this for people who like deliberately paced stories with plenty of slice of life details about places that they aren’t familiar with. Another book that does this well is The Marriage Bureau for Rich People.
East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood's high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can't or won't touch. They call him IQ. He's a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. He charges his clients whatever they can afford, which might be a set of tires or a homemade casserole. To get by, he's forced to take on clients that can pay. This time, it's a rap mogul whose life is in danger. As Isaiah investigates, he encounters a vengeful ex-wife, a crew of notorious cutthroats, a monstrous attack dog, and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. The deeper Isaiah digs, the more far reaching and dangerous the case becomes.
Isaiah Quintabe’s whole world fell apart when his brother Marcus died leaving teenaged Isaiah on his own. In order to make his rent he gets a local drug dealer and petty criminal named Dodson as a room mate. It changes both of their lives.
Now years later Dodson has a case that he thinks Isaiah would be interested in. It has a huge paycheck attached and Dodson has decided to help out to get his cut – whether Isaiah wants him around or not.
This book reminded me a lot of a Carl Hiaasen novel. The mystery is convoluted. The characters are quirky and unexpected. The book is laugh out loud funny at times.
IQ is a loner who is brilliant and who has trained himself to be observant and make deductions like Sherlock Holmes
Dodson is a drug dealer who wants to move on to crimes with a better class of criminals
Deronda is a woman from IQ and Dodson’s past who is looking to be become famous any way possible
Cal is a depressed rap superstar who has a greedy entourage
Add in a hit man with an obsession with breeding the perfect attack dogs
The story is told through dual time lines.
Cal is too depressed to leave his house and go into the studio to record his contractually obligated next album. Anything he writes is way too depressing to record anyway. He is attacked in his house by a gigantic dog. He only gets away by falling in the pool and making so much noise that the neighbor calls the police. A man comes out of the woods to get the dog and lets Cal live. Isaiah takes the case.
In the Past
Dodson has just moved in with a grieving Isaiah. He realizes that he has a genius as a room mate and that genius is in need of money. He decides to put Isaiah’s brain to use to think up better criminal activities.
It is interesting to see what happens in the past to make Isaiah the detective that he is today. This is supposed to be the start of a series and I can’t wait to see what Isaiah gets up to next.
My only quibble is that at one point they rob a pet store and take feline epilepsy test strips. I wish they would have gotten me some. Those would be handy since nothing like that actually exists. The author probably meant feline diabetes test strips. Sorry, that’s my veterinarian side coming out.
First come first served and if you want to throw in a few dollars for shipping that would be great but not required.
"Moving Pictures "is the story of the awkward and dangerous relationship between curator Ila Gardner and officer Rolf Hauptmann, as they are forced by circumstances to play out their private lives in a public power struggle. The narrative unfolds along two timelines which collide with the revelation of a terrible secret, an enigmatic decision that not many would make, and the realization that sometimes the only choice left is the refusal to choose.
I’ve talked here before about not being a big comic/graphic novel fan because they are too short. However, my library just got Hoopla which lets you read graphic novels from their collection on an iPad. I figured I would be more likely to read them that way than getting multiple short books from the library. After I read my first 25 page comic on the life of Ganesh, which was interesting, I realized that I could only download 10 books a month. That killed my plan to read all the short ones about the Indian gods and goddesses. So I started looking to see what books they had that were fairly long.
Moving Pictures is 146 pages. It is the story of a Canadian woman working at a French museum during World War II. She has been in charge of boxing up the non-important works of art and storing them in the basement of her museum. She has decided to stay in France during the war for reasons that aren’t clear to her coworkers. At the beginning of the book she is being interrogated by a German officer about her work at the museum.
The artwork is black and white and very minimalist except when a particular piece of art is being discussed. It shows up well in digital form.
The story is told in flashbacks to show how these people ended up in this interrogation room.
This is a good introduction to historical fiction graphic novels.