‘C.B. Strike’ review: Faithful adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s detective series

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With Rowling as one of the executive producers, the TV show moves smoothly along, excising the problematic parts and the gory, unpalatable details

J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith created a fairly humdrum character for her detective series. Cormoran Strike’s backstory — his father is a rockstar, mum was a super-groupie, he left Oxford to join the Military Police and left the army after his leg was blown off in Afghanistan to become a private investigator, is far more interesting than the cases he investigates.

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Rowling has written five books as of now with the fifth, the contentious Troubled Blood coming out in September 2020. The Cuckoo’s Calling (2013), a charmingly old-fashioned investigation into the death of a supermodel, introduces Strike and Robin, who starts off as a temporary assistant and goes on to become Strike’s business partner. The Silkworm (2014) is set in the world of publishing (most detective fiction writers have to set one book in the land of letters). Career of Evil (2015) introduces that other thriller staple—the serial killer. Politics, activism, horses, art and blackmail come together in Lethal White (2018). Troubled Blood sees Strike and Robin investigate a 40-year-old disappearance.

C. B. Strike

  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 11
  • Run time: 59 minutes
  • Starring: Tom Burke, Holliday Grainger, Kerr Logan, Ben Crompton, Natasha O’Keeffe, Killian Scott, Ann Akin, Sargon Yelda, Caitlin Innes Edwards, Ian Attard
  • Storyline: A former soldier-turned-private detective investigates crimes with the help of his trusty, beautiful sidekick

Four of the novels have been adapted for television. Tom Burke plays Strike and Holliday Grainger plays Robin. With Rowling as one of the executive producers, the adaptations are faithful to the books but not obsessively so unlike Chris Columbus’ adaptations of the first two Harry Potter novels. The books got bulkier going from 464 pages in The Cuckoo’s Calling to a ginormous 944 pages in Troubled Blood. The adaptations move smoothly along, excising the problematic parts and the gory, unpalatable details.

Apart from the mysteries Strike solves, the show, like the books, also follows Strike and Robin’s personal life. There is Robin’s relationship with Matthew (Kerr Logan), who disapproves of her career choice. Strike’s tempestuous relationship with Charlotte, (Natasha O’Keeffe) and the artistic Lorelei (Natalie Gumede) are also explored.

 

The leads and supporting cast, including Ben Crompton as Shanker, Strike’s informer; Caitlin Innes Edwards and Ian Attard as Strike’s friends Ilsa and Nick, and police officers Killian Scott as Eric Wardle, Ann Akin as Vanessa Ekwensi and Sargon Yelda as Richard Anstis are engaging.

The detection will not stand up to much scrutiny as clues pop up suddenly and connections plucked out of the air. So perhaps instead of whodunit, maybe the biggest mystery would be whether Strike and Robin will get together at the end of the series. Till then we can watch the ex-military police man (not the big, hulking fellow with a fascination for prime numbers) solve curly crimes from his office/ home on Denmark Street.

C. B. Strike is currently streaming on Disney+Hotstar



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