The novels focus on two main characters. Cormoran Strike, a British veteran of the war in Afghanistan turned Hardboiled Detective with a missing leg, a massive debt, a messy break-up, and no clients; and Robin Ellacott, a young just-engaged woman whose temping agency has accidentally given Robin her dream job of working for a private eye Cormoran. Robin quickly becomes his Hypercompetent Sidekick, and together, They Solve Crime.
There are four books in the series:
- The Cuckoo's Calling (2013)
- The Silkworm (2014)
- Career of Evil (2015)
- Lethal White (September 18, 2018)
This series contains examples of the following tropes:
- An Arm and a Leg:
- Cormoran lost his left leg to an improvised explosive device while on a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
- Career of Evil's plot kicks off after someone mails a severed leg to Cormoran's office.
- Badass Normal: Strike may be a Muggle, but that doesn't stop him from being a badass.
- Black Comedy: A Rowling staple returns in full force in this series. In Career of Evil, Strike's use of black comedy as a coping mechanism for dealing with horror is actually a minor plot point.
- Cluster F-Bomb / Country Matters: To a lesser degree than The Casual Vacancy, but still, this is not a series accommodating to virgin eyes.
- Epigraph: Each book has one epigraph per chapter, with sources themed after the plot. The Silkworm quotes Elizabethan-era plays, while Career of Evil quotes lyrics from Blue Öyster Cult songs and Lethal White quotes the Henrik Ibsen play Rosmersholm.
- Gay Best Friend: Guy Somé to Lula Landry, Joe North to Owen Quine.
- Literary Allusion Title:
- Lampshade Hanging: In The Cuckoo's Calling, the accused killer remarks to Strike that he should take up fantasy writing if his detective career doesn't work out.
- Meaningful Name: As lampshaded by Cormoran, Robin is the perfect name for a young sidekick. One wonders if Rowling knew about female Robins like Carrie Kelly when she chose the name.
- Cormoran is the name of a giant in Cornish folklore, and Cormoran Strike is not a small man. The name is also one letter off from "cormorant," a kind of seabird; given Robin's avian name, it's appropriate that he'd have one too.
- Police are Useless: To a degree. The police in the series are not so much incompetent as they are unwilling to explore other possibilities when they already have a perfectly reasonable suspect or explanation at hand.
- Production Throwback: Strike's office is located on Charing Cross Road, the same street as the Leaky Cauldron, though, as a Muggle, he is unaware of its existence.
- Product Placement: Doom Bar Ale, many times.
- Reality Ensues/Technology Marches On: Certain elements of the Crime Fiction formula are updated to accommodate for things like the existence of the Internet.
- Sure, Let's Go with That:
- Cormoran has long given up trying to correct people who mispronounce his name as "Cameron", since as a detective it makes for a more cooperative witness for him to just go with the flow. In one instance in Career of Evil, he actually gives his name as "Cameron" to a subject that he suspects wouldn't be able to grasp his real name.
- For that matter, Strike often finds this to be a good practice in general sometimes to go with something an interview suspect puts out there if he can manage to do so believably, as they can often be more cooperative if they think they're being believed.
- 20 Minutes into the Past: The first two books are set in 2010, the third in 2011, the fourth in 2012.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Cormoran and Robin. Seeing as how we first meet Robin after she'd just been engaged to Matthew and she is properly (if unhappily) married to him by the end of the third book, it's possible it will stay that way. That is, until the fourth book, when Robin discovers that Matthew has been cheating on her and promptly leaves him.
- You Know the One: While Lula Landry and Owen Quine are referenced by name after their respective books, their murderers, John Bristow and Elizabeth Tassel are only mentioned indirectly.