I once read JK Rowling describe her Harry Potters as "whodunits in disguise", and indeed they are. Although they are set in a magical world with wands and owls and ambiguous Potions professors, they are loaded with foreshadowing, red herrings and plot twists, and each one, with perhaps the exception of The Order of the Phoenix, with a mystery at its heart; who's trying to get the Philosopher's Stone? Who opened the Chamber of Secrets? Why is Sirius Black trying to find Harry? Who put Harry's name into the Goblet of Fire?
The new Strike novel was released on Tuesday
As such, opening the latest Cormoran Strike murder mystery thriller, Lethal White, brought back the same sensation as opening a Harry Potter book when I was growing up. The intrigue is there, only instead of a magical castle, we are on Tottenham Court Road in 2012. The mystery is here, but instead of Voldemort, we are faced with flesh and blood criminals to track down. And the characters you become deeply attached to, yep, they might not have round glasses or bushy hair, but they are also most definitely there.
This is JK Rowling's fourth Strike novel
Following the wedding cliffhanger of 2015, fans have waited three years to see if Robin Ellacott, all-round person you'd love to go for a drink with and general hero, would go through with her marriage to the jealous, conventional Matt, especially since the reader is well aware that he deleted Cormoran's voicemail asking her to return to the detective agency after Strike fired her in a moment of anger, all the while knowing how much the job he hated meant to his fiancé.
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While we won't be giving away any spoilers here, it's fair to say that Robin's love life is one of the many focuses of the book, and sometimes becomes a mystery in itself. The main mystery, of course, is the perfect jigsaw puzzle that we have come to expect from a Robert Galbraith novel, in which Cormoran and Robin must investigate a delusional young man's claims that he'd seen a murder as a child, while a government official hires Strike to dig up information on a blackmailer threatening to release some unsavoury information about his past.
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Written with JK Rowling's usual witty verve, quick-paced dialogue and with the deliciously complex mystery to wrap your head around at its heart, I expect fans of the Strike novel will devour Lethal White despite its hefty 656 pages, just to get to the heart of the excellent whodunit… while of course remaining highly invested in the complex relationship between Cormoran and Robin and where it'll be headed next. Fingers crossed it doesn't take another three years for us to find out!