Characters you won't likely forget. Language that stays with you and you wish you could replicate. Ivan Doig is a wonder.
I'm (sort of) ashamed to admit I never read the Harry Potter series, even though I know that the books are deservedly beloved, but I'm just not a fan of fantasy. But I am a fan of non-gory mysteries, and Rowling's eye for detail and the ability to convey that detail in elegant writing is a delight. Also, her characters (at least the main ones) are smart, and she makes the reader feel smart and not-talked-down-to as well. Cuckoo's Calling is a fine whodunit and even if you think you know the killer early on, you're never really sure until Cormorant Strike (how terrific is a name like that?) -- a wonderful, fully realized character, by the way -- confronts the evildoer. I usually just listen to books on hikes or in the car, but this time I couldn't stop listening.
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