Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Cormoran Strikes after Harry Potter rests

For the uninitiated, Cormoran Strike is the lead character in the crime series by Robert Galbraith. For the more uninitiated, that's the pseudonym under which JK Rowling writes.
..And for the more more uninitiated, that's the author of Harry Potter. 

Today, Robert Galbraith is shortlisted for Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year for her third book in the series, 'Career of Evil'. It seems like the perfect omen to talk/write about her.

Apparently, a reporter unearthed that Galbraith could indeed be Rowling, by the aid of a computer program, and determining it based on their language choices. That makes me happier - if EL James wrote under a pseudonym, I am sure "Oh My" will figure prominently in it. :)

For a layman with a normal mind, like me, the similarities between the two series are few:
  • Set in London
  • A strong feminine character as a sidekick
  • Wordy, descriptive, and hence believable.
  • There is the hint of a romance, but nothing in-your-face.
  • The plot is convoluted, and very difficult to predict.
  • The protaganists are both physically and noticeably scarred - a lightning scar on the forehead in one, and an amputee with a prosthetic leg in another. 
  • Breaking laws seems to be a given :)
  • There is more focus on "how to", rather than "who". Remarkably, even the crime series doesn't go for the time-tested big reveal in the end. In most of her novels, the killer is one among the shortlisted set of suspects. Its the how, like the Harry Potter and his attempts to finish Voldermort, that defines the storyline.

However, I did not expect a Cormoran Strike out of a Harry Potter creator, since the differences are way too many:
  • The most obvious is the genre of course. One is fantasy fiction (however much we believe otherwise), and the other is a very  grimy realistic crime novel.
  • The target audience is, theoretically, different. Harry Potter was aimed at the younger audience, while Cormoran Strike is definitely for adult readers. Career of Evil is especially disturbing.
  • Harry Potter is instantly likeable, while Strike takes some getting used to. Strike is not without his flaws (with his history, his drinking problem and his affliction to junk food).
  • As Rowling, she focused on forbidden forests and new creatures, and not so much on job profiles. As Galbraith, he focused on concrete jungles and different professions (fashion, editing etc), providing a very concise Arthur Haileysque feel to it.
  • While both are set in UK, the feel of the book is very different. I am not sure how everyone sees the book, but for me, Harry Potter felt like it was in a sepia/vintage tone, while the Strike series was in a decidedly darker, grey tone. The locations are dirtier and edgier and to put it in perspective, every scene in the Strike series seems to occur in Knockturn Alley.

With more Cormoran Strike novels to look forward to, I am glad that she hasn't stopped writing. I really hope she is considering writing a romantic novel series under another pseudonym, since she seems to be good at everything she pens.


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